Faust, Parts 1 and 2 By Johann Wolfgang von Goethe Summary and Analysis Part 2: Act I: Pleasing Landscape

Summary

The second part of Faust is much longer than the first and contains many complicated allegorical elements. Because less emphasis is usually given to Part Two in classroom study and to avoid unnecessary confusion, this section of the treatment is briefer than the first. It concentrates on the main details of the plot and the broad philosophical themes of this part of the story.

At twilight Faust rests in a flowery meadow where he tries to fall asleep. A choir of spirits led by Ariel sings to him. When Faust awakens he feels refreshed and ready to continue his adventures.

Analysis

Most striking about the beginning of Part Two is the complete change of mood from the final scene of Part One. It appears as if the past has been obliterated and Faust has retained in his memory no continuity of experience from which to draw upon to increase his self-knowledge or moral sensibility. At the same time the choir's song expresses the power of Nature to cleanse and renew even the most tormented soul. Faust seems inspired by a faint glimpse of the eternal truths he is seeking. He realizes now that man cannot grasp the ultimate directly and must find it in a context suited to his limited human perceptions. Faust will continue his efforts to satisfy his ambition, but on a scale more in proportion to his abilities. In addition, he will no longer seek fulfillment in sensual passion.

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At the beginning of Part Two, what solution does Mephistopheles, dressed as a jester, give for the kingdom's financial problems?




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