Faust, Parts 1 and 2 By Johann Wolfgang von Goethe Summary and Analysis Part 2: Act V: The Great Outer-Court of the Palace

Summary

A gang of Lemures (a species of monkey, but also a name for a type of ghost) under the supervision of Mephistopheles works at digging Faust's grave. The blind Faust comes out and overhears the sound of their shovels. He thinks that they are continuing the work on his project. Faust is filled with a proud vision of the prosperity and happiness of the people who will someday inhabit the reclaimed lands. He is self-reliant and confident despite his impending death as he describes the utopian future he visualizes. As he speaks he utters the words of the bargain made in Part One, "Stay, thou art so fair," but he intends them in relation to the future in which he sees the fruition of his dreams and work and not to the present moment. After saying these last words Faust collapses dead in the arms of the Lemures, who lay him on the ground beside the grave. Mephisto has ignored the context of Faust's statement and complacently assumes that he has won Faust's soul.

Analysis

Mephisto is concerned only with the terms of the pact in a strict legalistic sense and does not realize that the most significant factor is that Faust's soul has never been surrendered to him. Faust's victory over Care has resulted in a personal reformation that will, in the eyes of God, outweigh all the years he lived in moral error. The deaths of Gretchen, Euphorion, Philemon, and Baucis have taught Faust the duty of self-surrender. Just before his own death he finally discovered that which he was seeking — the meaning of his relationship with the rest of humanity, past, present, and future, and the joy of participation in the continuous constructive activity that permeates the universe.

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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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