Fist. The tragedy part two

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Title page of the second part of the tragedy, completed in 1831

Fist. The tragedy second part in five acts (also . The tragedy second part of Faust or short Faust II ) is a continuation of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's Faust .

After Goethe had not worked on the Faust material for twenty years since the completion of the first part in 1805 , he expanded upon earlier notes on the second part of the tragedy from 1825 to the summer of 1831 . The work was published in 1832, a few months after Goethe's death.


Pre-print of the still unfinished Faust II from 1828

The drama consists of five acts that have self-contained contents. Only the reference to the entirety of Parts I and II establishes the context of the tragedy. In contrast to the first part, the focus is no longer on the soul and emotional life of the individual person, but the person Faust develops steadily, becomes a socially and historically acting entrepreneur, fails in this role too and is completed in the political vision of a liberal one World order.

In the second part, Faust actively devotes himself to various activities and thus corresponds to an ideal of the classical period: Man should develop all his skills. As an artist, he creates a play in the first act, but fails to translate it into reality. In the third act, Faust embarks on a journey through time through the ages. The Nordic-romantic artist Faust is married to the Greek-classical Helena , the symbol of beauty in antiquity. The product of this synthesis, their son Euphorion, who, barely born, quickly grows into a passionate young man, stands for the spirit of poetry. With it, Goethe illustrates how the German Classics came about : by bringing German art back to antiquity . The early death of Euphorion (an allusion to the contemporary and poet colleague Lord Byron , who was revered by Goethe ) allows Faust to come to the realization that poetry, the child of beauty and power, cannot change the world permanently, but can only create fleeting impressions.

Three main themes can be distinguished in Faust 2:

  1. Faust and Kaiser: Acts 1 and 4. Culture, power, guilt.
  2. Faust and Helena: the 2nd and 3rd act. Nature, longing, instinct.
  3. Faust's death and grace: the 5th act. Sense, forgiveness.

first act

  • Graceful area. Faust, lying on the flowery lawn, tired, restless, asleep. Dusk. Circle of ghosts, floating, graceful little figures.

The air spirit Ariel instructs the elves to give Faust, who was guilty of the Gretchen tragedy, the healing sleep of oblivion. Refreshed from sleep, Faust immediately wants to strive for the “highest existence” again - as in the first part of the tragedy. While the earth spirit blinded him in his study , the glaring rays of the sun now prevent him from seeing “what holds the world together at its core”. He turns to the earth and recognizes in it the “colored reflection” of life - in the rainbow, which alternates between clarity and melting, Faust sees the mirror of human endeavors. Goethe shows right at the beginning that a direct knowledge of life is not possible. First of all, it is important to live this life. Only the otherworldly grace will lead Faust to “higher spheres”.

Imperial Palatinate

  • Throne room. Council of State awaiting the Emperor. Trumpets. Court servants of all kinds, magnificently dressed, step forward. The emperor comes to the throne; on his right the astrologer.

Mephisto becomes the emperor's new fool. Already in a carnival mood, he listens to the worries and needs of the chancellor, army master, treasurer and marshal: There is a lack of money everywhere. Mephisto creates money by awarding all unexploited mineral resources and treasure finds to the emperor and thus providing cover for the paper money . After this " mummery " it becomes clear that this has replaced the gold cover .

Court lady, when the emerging ghost turns to Helena's Faust: “I can see that she is teaching him; In such a case all men are stupid. He probably also believes that he would be the first. ”
Helena of Troy by Evelyn de Morgan , 1898
  • Spacious hall with ancillary rooms, decorated and trimmed up as a mummery.
First department - gardeners, wreaths of ears, fantasy bouquet, fishermen, birders, ...
Second division - woodcutters, nature poets, court singers, knights singers, satirists, ...
Third section - Graces , Farsi , Furies .
Fourth section - Fortitudo- chariot: fear, hope, prudence, ...
Fifth division - Plutus wagon: Knabe Lenk, Plutus , Avarice, ...
Sixth division - wild song: fauns , satyr , gnomes , giants , nymphs , pan .

This by far the most extensive section of the first act describes the Florentine carnival from the perspective of Goethe, based primarily on Antonio Francesco Grazzini's Tutti i Trifoni (1559) - a collection of contemporary pageants and songs. The depiction, referred to as Mummenschanz, shows a sensual panopticon of court society as well as historical and ancient figures. The organizing element in this scene is taken over by the figure of the herald , who asks the various departments and figures to step out, describes and records them. Allegories like fear, hope and prudence play an increasingly important role . Faust, Mephistopheles and the emperor himself mingle with the guests. a. the following allegorical figure analogies result:

Zolio-Thersites = Mephistopheles (→ allegory: ugliness)
Plutus = fist (→ allegory: money)
Boy handlebar = Euphorion (→ Allegory: Poetry)
The emaciated = Mephistopheles (→ allegory: greed)
Emperor = Pan (→ allegory: addiction to pleasure)

After the deputations of the first three departments and the appearance of Plutus' magnificent car, the scene develops into a courtly play in which the financial worries of the emperor masked as Pan are shown. These should be eliminated by Faust (in the form of wealth). A flaming inferno that burns the masks of those present and is finally extinguished by Faust, concludes the mummery.

  • Pleasure garden, morning sun. Faust, Mephistopheles, decent, not conspicuous, dressed according to custom; both kneel.

The emperor describes Faust how much he enjoyed the past festivities and wishes for more “jokes like that” (5988). The emperor's advisers appear and praise the paper money newly introduced by Mephisto. The emperor begins to understand its meaning and, like his advisors, to squander it.

  • Sinister gallery. Fist. Mephistopheles.

Faust tells Mephisto that the emperor had instructed him to bring Helena and Paris, the archetypes of beauty, to his court. Because: "First we made him rich, now we should amuse him" (6190–6191). Mephisto explains to him that the means to conjure up the two is a "glowing tripod" (6283), which Faust finds with the help of a magical key in the realm of the "mothers", the deepest mystery: "Goddesses are enthroned in solitude around them no place, much less a time ”(6213–6215). Faust then sets out to descend into the realm of the mothers.

  • Brightly lit halls. Emperors and princes, court in motion.

In this scene, Mephisto is urged by the court people to heal their personal ailments (freckles, stiff feet, lovesickness) with his witch-cooking skills.

  • Knight hall. Dim lighting. The emperor and court have moved in.

Helena and Paris appear for the emperor in an illusionary "Flammengaukelspiel" . However, their spirits turn out to be fleeting appearances. A discussion about ancient beauty broke out in the knight's hall: male society perceived Helena as perfectly beautiful, Paris, however, as boorish, as there were no “court manners” (6460). The opposite is true for the female audience. When Faust notices that the scene depicted is the "robbery of Helena", he wants to preserve Helena and intervenes in the ghost staging, which dissolves the ghost and leaves Faust paralyzed: he made the mistake, his To regard the creation of art - which was only made possible for him by going to his mothers - as his property, i.e. to overestimate himself and confuse his work of art with reality.

Second act

  • Highly vaulted, narrow, Gothic room, formerly Faust, unchanged. Mephistopheles emerging from behind the curtain. As he picks it up and looks back, one sees Faust sprawled on an old-fashioned bed. Famulus. Bachelor degree.

Mephisto steps into Faust's old room and recognizes the pen with which Faust committed himself to the devil. He puts on Faust's old coat to disguise himself as a lecturer. So he receives the new Famulus, who has taken Wagner's place. Wagner - meanwhile himself a doctor, professor and practicing alchemist - is supposed to work on a great, mysterious work. Mephisto asks the Famulus to bring Wagner over.

This is followed by the continuation of the student scene from Faust I : The former student, who has meanwhile matured to a bachelor's degree, claims of himself that he has now “outgrown academic rods” (6723-6724) and on a par with his old master (Mephisto), even superior. It symbolizes the presumptuous self-confidence of the youth: "The human life lives in the blood, and where / does the blood move like in a youth?" (6776-6777). Mephisto plays the underdog ironically (“Well, I feel pretty stale and silly”, 6763), but he tells the theater audience, looking after the outgoing Bachelor: “Original, go there in your glory! - / How would you be offended by the insight: / Who can do something stupid, who can think something clever / That the prehistoric world has not already thought? ”(6807–6810).

Homunculus [in the vial]: "What is there to do?" Mephistopheles, pointing to a side door: "Here show your gift" (to describe the dream images of the sleeping Faust)
(outline etching after Moritz Retzsch 1836)
  • Laboratory in the sense of the Middle Ages, extensive, unhelpful apparatus for fantastic purposes. Wagner at the herd. Homunculus in the vial.

Mephistopheles has transferred the unconscious Faust to his old study. In the laboratory next door he meets Wagner, who is just about to accomplish a major scientific feat and to create an artificial human being, the homunculus . The delicate artifact can only exist in its vial . Significantly, the devil is present in its production. Homunculus greets him: “But you, Schalk, Herr Vetter, are you here? At the right moment, I thank you ”(6885–6886). As a homunculus, seeing Faust, who sees lovely women in the mirror of his thoughts, including Helena, he decides to set off for Greece for the classic Walpurgis Night. Mephisto, who only agrees because of the prospect of Thessalian witches visiting there, follows Homunculus and carries the still sleeping Faust with him.

Classic Walpurgis Night

  • Pharsal fields. Darkness: Erichtho. The pilots above. Fist touching the ground. Mephistopheles scouting around. Sirens prelude above. Fist approaching. Mephistopheles crossly.

At the beginning of the scene, the Thessalian witch Erichtho appears on the Pharsalic Fields as the harbinger of the classic Walpurgis Night . The gloomy reporter of the story confuses by mixing up the pre- Olympic era, the Roman era and the Greek liberation struggle from Goethe's time. She flees when the pilots Faust, Mephisto and Homunculus approach.

Faust wakes up after the failed summoning of Helena on the ancient battlefield on which Pompey was defeated by Caesar . New powers flow into him when he feels the ground on which the deities and heroes of classical antiquity are at home. The medieval, Nordic devil, on the other hand, feels out of place. But to his amazement he recognizes "unfortunately close relatives" (7741) in some of the ancient horror figures.

“A hundred springs from all sides come together in the clean, bright room that is shallowly deepened for bathing. Healthy young female limbs, brought back to eyes twice struck by the damp mirror! … Wonderful! Swans also come swimming out of the bays, majestically moved. Floating calmly, gently sociable, but proud and complacent. ”
Nymphs and Swans by J. H. Tischbein (1817/20)
  • Peneios surrounded by waters and nymphs - Peneios, Nymphs , Chiron and Manto.

Faust is looking for Helena with the Sphinxes and Chiron , hallucinates Leda and walks by the river. The centaur Chiron, Herakles ' teacher , doctor and the educator of Castor and Pollux , Helena's half-brothers, brings Faust to Manto , who climbs with him into the underworld and thus ends Faust's madness through the Classical Walpurgis Night.

  • On the upper peneios as before. Sirens. Mephistopheles on the plain. Homunculus. Mephistopheles climbing on the opposite side.

Mephisto, who was looking for a gallant adventure, but had already flashed off at the sphinxes and was completely excited, was charmed by the lamias , but then by his "Laborious Empuse, the trusting woman with donkey's feet" (7737) - and the vial homunculus, who made his incarnation and Seeking perfection in Anaxagoras and Thales , disturbed in his now direct sexual ambitions. Anaxagoras and Thales carry with them two philosophical thoughts on the origin of life. While the former believes that living things originated in fire, Thales is just as convinced that the origin of all life can be found in water. Mephisto finally arrives at the mountain cave of the three Phorkyads , from which he borrows his teeth and eyes, and appears in the following act as Phorkyas.

Thales, still trying to help Homunculus become human, tries to find out the secret of the origins of Nereus , the "old man of the sea". This, an outspoken hater of the human race, has no advice, but refers to Proteus , who knows the art of transforming. Proteus, transforming itself into various forms, shows Homunculus the way to the train of the Galatee's shell chariot . Homunculus mounts the Proteus dolphin and smashes against the shell chariot of the sea goddess Galatee, daughter of Nereus. A sea glow is created. The act ends with a hymn of praise to almighty Eros and the four elements .

Third act

  • Before the palace of Menelas at Sparta
Helena: “See for yourself! she even ventures out into the light! Here we are masters until the Lord and King come. The beauty friend Phöbus pushes the gruesome night births away into caves, or tames them. ”
Set design by Goethe (1810)

This is about Faust's relationship with Helena, with whom he has a son - Euphorion - who falls to his death at the end of the act, whereupon Helena also disappears. The connection between Faust and Helena symbolizes the connection between classical antiquity and the romantic, Germanic Middle Ages.

Menelas has returned from the war for Troy with Helena and sent Helena ahead to prepare a sacrifice ceremony. However, he did not say what should be sacrificed. Helena suspects that she will be the victim and laments her fate, but a chorus of captured Trojan women cheer her up again. After returning, Helena wants to inspect the servants and the palace, but encounters empty corridors and Mephisto in the form of one of the Phorkyads who managed the palace and court during Helena's absence. She tells Helena that she will be the victim, as Menelas feared losing her again or not being able to own her completely, and offers her and the choir to take her to a medieval and supposedly impregnable castle, which during the ten years of the war for Troy and the subsequent wanderings of the Menelas to Egypt was built not far from Sparta . They agree and flee, shrouded in fog, before the approaching king.

  • Inner courtyard, surrounded by rich, fantastic buildings from the Middle Ages.

After defeating Menelas, Faust introduces Helena to the Arcadia he created, a haven of happiness and harmony. Once in his medieval castle, Faust woos Helena. She enthusiastically takes up his unknown, Nordic form of speaking - the rhymed verse :

“Women used to love men, they are not voters, but connoisseurs. And like golden curly shepherds, perhaps black-bristled faunas, how it brings the opportunity to share equal rights over the swelling limbs. ” Satyrs by J. W. v.Goethe, around 1790
"Helena: One tone seems to be comfortable for the other,
And has a word added to the ear,
Another comes to caress the first. [...]
So tell me how do I speak so beautifully?
Faust: That is very easy, it has to be from the heart.
And when the chest overflows with longing
You look around and ask -
Helena: Whoever enjoys. "(9369–9380)

Meanwhile the choir celebrates the frivolity of women. (see picture on the right)

Faust and Helena, statue at the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna
  • Shady grove. The scene is changing. Closed arbors lean against a series of rock caves. Shady grove up to the surrounding rocky parts. Faust and Helena are not seen. The choir lies around asleep.

Phorkyas reports to the choir about the birth of Euphorion, which arises from Faust's connection with Helena - the beautiful, personified destructive power of sexuality. Euphorion dies a short time later in a high-spirited attempt to fly. His last words “Leave me in the dark realm / mother, not me alone!” (9905-9906) echo, whereupon Helena asks Persephone to take her and the boy in. While the choir leader Panthalis also sets out for Hades , the choir members linger in Arcadia, but transform themselves into nature spirits. At the end of the final chant, after the curtain has fallen, you can see Phorkyas standing up gigantically in the proscenium and identifying himself as Mephisto, in order, if necessary, to comment on the piece in the epilogue.

Fourth act

  • High mountains, rigid, jagged rock peaks. A cloud draws in, leans against it, descends on a protruding plate. She divides. Faust emerges.

Faust, carried away from Arcadia, fantasizes while looking at a cloud. In the retreating cumulus cloud, the ancient ideal of beauty appears to him once more (“fleeing days of great sense” (10054)). The other part of the cloud forms a cirrus formation, in which Gretchen's “Seelenschönheit” (10064) shows itself and pulls “the best” of his “inside” away with it.

Mephistopheles, who uses a seven-mile boot to move around (“That’s what I finally call advanced!”, 10067), begins a discourse about the formation of the earth's surface, especially the high mountains, which have been shaped and shaped by diabolical gases. Faust, in turn, expresses the desire to gain neither worldly power nor the love of a woman from now on, a higher goal for him is to control nature (especially the sea). This should be done in the form of land reclamation through the use of dams and canals.

Mephisto introduces the three mighty men to Faust: Raufebold, Habebald and Haltefest, who will win the victory for the emperor and implement Faust's ambitious plans to reclaim land.

  • On the foothills. Drums and martial music from below. The emperor's tent is pitched. Emperor. Chief General. Satellites.

Mephistopheles and Faust enter the war and are informed that a polarizing counter-emperor is now waging war against the actual emperor and is trying to conquer his country. The battle, which seems to end in favor of the opposing emperor, is turned around with the help of Mephistus and the three mighty ones.

  • The opposing emperor's tent. Throne, rich surroundings.

Shortly after the victory over the opposing emperor, the two looters Habebald and Eilebeute enter the tent of the defeated opposing emperor, with the aim of gathering the rich treasures there. However, both are soon chased away by the emperor's four satellites. The emperor appears with "four princes", whom he rewards for their services by dividing the land he has won among them and thus turning away from an absolute dynastic principle of governance. They are followed by the archbishop who exhorts gifts for the church. The archbishop, who has recognized that the previous victory over the army of the opposing emperor was not received with piously right things, is now free to make excessive demands on the emperor. However, he cannot prevent Faust from being awarded a district on the beach. The medieval-early modern scientist and seeker, with a loving and admiring penchant for Greek fantasy and beauty, is placed in the state and rulership and must now, transformed into a man of action and weighing up the common good and self-interest, act.

Fifth act

A hiker walking through an open area recognizes a small hut surrounded by linden trees, whose friendly residents welcomed him a long time ago when he was in distress and needed help. The two old people's hut used to be by the sea, today the sea can only be guessed at in the distance on the sails of the ships.

The hiker enters and recognizes Baucis, who, meanwhile very old, welcomed and cared for him in a friendly manner at the time. Her husband Philemon is also still alive. He tells of the strange events that have taken place in this place since the hiker's first visit. In the description of Philemon and the subsequent exchange speech by the two old men, the wanderer (and with him the reader) learns that the new master of the country - Faust, who remains anonymous - from the emperor as a reward for the fight against the opposing emperor with the beach has been rewarded. No sooner had this land been in possession than they began to wrest land from the sea.

While work hardly progressed during the day, one saw flames wandering around at night, where a dam was already in place the next morning. The creation of new land was obviously only possible with the help of technical innovations that worked like magic to the ancients. The hut is the last building from the old days, and even this is what the new master of the country wants to have for himself, which is why he puts the two old people under pressure. The scene ends with Philemon's invitation to retire to the nearby chapel to pray to the god of old.

  • Palace. Wide ornamental garden, large straight canal. Faust in old age, walking, thinking.

Lynkeus der Türmer describes the new land torn from the sea as an idyll. But the sound of the bell in Philemon and Baucis' chapel makes Faust start. For him, his land, torn from the sea, is not an idyll as long as the two old people live in their little house with the old linden trees on the dune. He has no right about this little piece of earth. It is out of his reach. This little flaw gnaws at him so much that he cannot enjoy his new country. Not even the beautiful words of the tower keeper diminish Faust's annoyance when Mephisto with the “three mighty journeymen” - “war, trade and piracy, they are triune, cannot be separated” (11187–11188) - on a fully loaded, magnificent boat in the artificial canal runs in. Mephisto tells of the successful voyage, which was less a peaceful trading venture than a pirate voyage carried out with cold ruthlessness. Disappointed by the unfriendly greeting from their master, the three put the rich booty aside and allow themselves to be appeased by Mephisto, who holds out the prospect of a big naval festival. Mephisto criticizes Faust's anger at Philemon and Baucis in view of what has been achieved so far. Finally, Faust asks Mephisto to relocate the two of them: "So go and get them to my side!" (11275).

He would like to have a “Luginsland” built on their property between the old linden trees in order to enjoy his “world property” from there: “There I want to look far around, build scaffolding from branch to branch, open up the view wide path, to see what everything I have done ”(11243–11246).

  • late night

Lynkeus sings his song "Born to see / ordered to look" on his tower. In it he extols the beauty of nature and the perfection of creation and all that he has ever seen. Not entirely without complacency, he not only praises his special ability to see everything, but also himself: "So I see in all the eternal ornament, and as I like it, I please myself too" (11296–11299).

He interrupts his song because he recognizes flying sparks and fire in the dark. Philemon and Baucis' house is on fire. Lynkeus vividly describes how the old linden trees, the house, the chapel and finally the old ones themselves become a victim of flames: “The chapel collapses From the branches fall and load. Snaking, with sharp flames, the peaks are already touched ”(11330–11333). If he had just proudly boasted of his great ability, he now regrets being so “far-sighted” in view of the terrible misfortune.

Faust hears the wailing of the tower keeper, steps out onto the balcony and also discovers the burning property belonging to Philemon and Baucis. He only regrets the fire insofar as the linden trees, which were supposed to serve him for his planned observation post, were also affected. From the balcony he also recognizes the new house, which he generously intended to replace Philemon and Baucis and in which he believes the two, filled with his generosity, will happily end their days. However, he learns a different story from Mephisto. He and "the three mighty" Raufebold, Habebald and Haltefest forced their way into the old people's house and threatened them. Since they did not want to give up their little house, the two were "cleared away" by force. The shock killed them. The hiker, who was also present and met in the Open Area scene , struggled, but was unable to counter the violence and fell. In the turmoil the house caught fire: “From coals scattered all around, straw was inflamed. Now it blazes freely, As the funeral pyre of these three ”(11367–11369). Angry, Faust drives to Mephisto and his companions: “You were deaf to my words! I want to exchange, I did not want robbery ”(11370–11371). He puts the responsibility for the death of the three on Mephisto and the three mighty ones. However, in his order to relocate Philemon and Baucis, Faust did not speak of "exchange". "So go and get them to my side!" Were his words. "Smoke and haze" rise from the still smoldering remains of the fire and float up to Faust.

  • midnight

Enter "four gray women". Here the plot is shifted from the outside to the inside, and Faust is supposed to break away from the magic: "Be careful and don't speak a magic word". The encounter with the old women of want , need and guilt does not impress Faust, his bond with Mephisto guarantees him prosperity and health. Only worry can reach him, make him blind and reduce him to his inner world.

  • Great forecourt of the palace

Now a hundred years old and blind, Faust considers the noisy lemurs digging his grave for his workers, who are supposed to build a dike with which he wants to win land from the sea for the dispossessed: “I will open spaces for millions, not sure to live freely but actively. (11563–11564) […] I would like to see such a crowd, Stand on free ground with free people ”(11579–11580). In striving for the “highest existence”, Faust overcame his egoism. He now wants to use his skills for the good of the needy, many of whom exist in the millions. With this late finding of meaning, Faust can finally accept himself and be sure that such a feat will be remembered by posterity. He happily confesses: “For the moment, I may say: stay a while, you are so beautiful! The trace of my earthly days cannot be lost in eons. - In anticipation of such great happiness, I now enjoy the highest moment ”(11581–11586).

With the utterance of the old oath formula "For the moment, I can say: Stay, you are so beautiful!" He does not lose the bet, because the subjunctive ( irrealis ) "may" suggests that Faust would like to say this, but it would does not. But he does not escape his death.

  • Entombment

Goethe designed the entombment as a farce . Mephistopheles comes to speak of the blood-signed contract before the dead Faust and fears that he will come away empty-handed, alluding to the Protestants' lack of belief in hell ("The old way is to toast / we are not recommended again"). The choir of the Heavenly Host calls for the forgiveness of sinners. The devil, worried, approaches the grave so as not to let Faust's soul slip away. The choir of angels appears and scatters roses, which magically trigger desires for love in Mephistopheles. His assistants, the lemurs, "fall into hell" (11738). Mephistopheles is now alone with the angels. “You turn. - Look from behind! - The rascals are too appetizing ”(11799–11800).

When Mephistopheles came to his senses again, the angels took Faust's soul with them and he lamented: “The high soul that pledged itself to me, it cleverly pasped away from me” (11830–11831).

Angel (floating in the higher atmosphere, carrying Faust's immortal things): “The noble member of the spirit world is saved from evil, whoever strives, we can redeem. And if love has even participated in him from above, the blessed crowd greets him with a warm welcome. ”
Dante's Spiral of Heaven by (W. Blake 1824/27)
  • Mountain gorges. Forest, rock, wasteland. Holy anchorites spread up the mountains, stored between crevices.

The anchorites (monastic hermits) scattered in the mountain ravines reflect on love and life. Their expressions represent different attitudes within faith and theology: rationality, ecstasy and loving devotion. A chorus of blessed boys (born midnight who died shortly after birth) floats through the scene and is absorbed by the anchorite Father Seraphicus in order to ascend through him to the highest peaks and to circle them.

Three angels appear above the anchor, carrying Fausten's immortal things. You will be received and greeted by the blessed boys. They tell of Faust's salvation: “Whoever strives, we can redeem” (11936–11937).

The 'Mater gloriosa' floats in, accompanied by three biblical and legendary penitents and Una Poenitentium (“otherwise called Gretchen”). The Mater Gloriosa asks Gretchen to rise with her to higher spheres. Faust stays behind for the time being, but: "If he suspects you, he follows you" (12095). Doctor Marianus prays for the grace of the "virgin, mother, queen, goddess" (12101 f.).

The chorus mysticus closes the drama: “Everything transient is just a simile; The inadequate, here is the event; The indescribable, here it is done; The Eternal Feminine, Draws us up ”(12104–12111).

This scene was interpreted as the purification of Faust's soul based on Neoplatonism , since there, too, the otherworldly world is arranged according to a triadic principle, which can be recognized in the three different levels of the scene. The motifs used come from the Christian tradition, but here they are to be understood metaphorically. The often interpreted ambiguous closing verses of the chorus mysticus can partly be interpreted as metalinguistic utterances. The Eternal Feminine can be viewed as the principle of love , which is opposed to the Eternal Masculine, Faustian titanism . In addition, the final picture can be understood as an allusion to the ancient Isis mysteries, in which the secrets of the goddess Isis were revealed to the initiate through the “epoption” (the “vision”). Correspondingly, Doctor Marianus wants to “see the secret” of the Mater Gloriosa (12000). He also titled her as "Goddess" (12100) and "Queen of Heaven" (11995), as Isis is invoked by the protagonist in Apuleius' "The Golden Donkey" (a text that was central to the understanding of the Mysteries of the time).

Summary from Faust I and Faust II

At the end of Faust II, three angels proclaim the judgment on Faust: “Whoever strives, we can redeem” (11936 f.). The saying also implicitly contains the reason for Faust's salvation: Because he strived, he could be redeemed.

One gets the impression that the judgment proclaimed by the angels is due to the “Lord” (God), who is meant by the “we” of the angels, and that Faust actually, as he did in the “Prolog in heaven ”in Faust I predicted that he was“ well aware of the right path ”(329) and ultimately did not leave it.

Objections to the judgment

In 1824 Karl Friedrich Göschel sharply criticized Faust's " pardon ": "Such a redemption as the poet instead of God allows sinner to share" should be "to be viewed as an immorality". It is assumed that “ redemption ” presupposes a positive moral evaluation of what is to be redeemed.

From the point of view of critics like Göschel, who take the standpoint of established Christianity, Faust's "register of sins" is long:

  • Faust does not believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ and that his death and resurrection saved mankind (765).
  • A nostalgic surge of emotion, but not the insight that suicide is a mortal sin, prevents Faust from drinking a poisonous drink (769 f.). As far as the lack of such scruples is concerned, Faust resembles Goethe's character Werther , who in his utterances also does not address the aspect that suicide is a mortal sin.
  • Faust is not ready to curb his sexual desire (2636 ff.) And does not give a clear answer to Gretchen's question (3415) in order not to endanger the success of his efforts to get Gretchen. He throws her into misery by making her pregnant and then abandoning her. He is jointly responsible for Gretchen's act of desperation, the killing of her child.
  • Faust is involved in the killing of Gretchen's mother and responsible for the death of her brother Valentin.
  • Faust is also at least partially responsible for the deaths of Philemon and Baucis.
  • His deals are dubious. Faust does not contradict Mephisto's assertion that it is generally difficult to distinguish trade from piracy (11187 f.).
  • The worst of all sins of Faust is that he got involved with Mephisto.

So, according to Goethe's critic, one could expect Faust's "journey into hell" after his death. In the first adaptations of the Faust material, up to Christopher Marlowe's drama The tragic history of Doctor Faustus , the story actually ended with Faust's "journey into hell". It was not until Gotthold Ephraim Lessing was conceiving a “Faust” drama that was never fully worked out that he had the idea that Faust should be pardoned because of his commitment to the acquisition of knowledge.

Justification of judgment

Three or four explanatory approaches for the positive turn at the end of the "tragedy" can be derived:

“Option 1: The redemption of Faust is based on an apokatastasis panton , according to which all creatures, including the devil, are taken back into the cycle of creation by God in the sense of a 'return of all'.
Option 2: Faust is redeemed because his thirst for action never slackens and, despite his numerous crimes after his death, he is not prevented from continuing to work as an entelechic monad .
Option 3a: Faust is redeemed because the eternal feminine rushes to his aid as a Christian ethical principle of love and grace and, since he himself once loved, leads him to higher spheres.
Option 3b: The eternally feminine is understood as a creative original principle or as participation of the feminine in the cycle of creation, in which Faust is also taken up again at the end. This option is based on a panentheistic worldview, since it thinks nature as having an eternal effect. "

Only in option 3a is Faust's redemption understood as an act of “grace”, although it remains unclear from whom this grace comes, since the “Lord”, who appears personally in the “prologue in heaven” in Faust I , at the end of Faust II does not appear. He is not explicitly mentioned in the third person either, not even in the form of a phrase such as: “In the name of the Lord”, which one would expect as an introduction to a judgment.

Wolfgang Wittkowski interprets the term redemption as a "technical [n] process of separating and cleaning. Faust's 'spiritual power' is, as it were, reprocessed in order to return 'pure' to 'becoming, which works and lives forever' (346) ”. According to Wittkowski, the terms “good person” and “via recta” have “nothing to do with love in an ethical sense or only with Faust's potential for it”.

A conversation note by Johann Peter Eckermann speaks against the thesis that the end of Faust II is not about a redemption of Faust through the grace of God :

“In these verses [(11934–11941)]”, he [(Goethe)] said, “the key to Faust's salvation is contained. In Faust himself an ever higher and purer activity to the end, and from above the eternal love that comes to his aid. This is entirely in harmony with our religious ideas, according to which we are not only saved through our own strength , but through the additional divine grace. "


According to Victor Lange , no other work in world literature has escaped interpretation as much as Goethe's Faust and especially the second part, because the “labyrinthine topography of the text requires an unusual degree of prudence and knowledge” and Goethe’s own countless statements about the work are biased disguise its incredible diversity. This confirms, for example, Goethe's own statement that “who has not changed something and has experienced a lot [...] will not know what to do with it”. Lange states that the modern consciousness, which is on its own, beyond religious and social institutions, can be derived from the “Faustian myth” because there it seems to receive grace.

Goethe himself mentions in a letter to KJL Iken in 1827 that with Faust II he had chosen the means of drama, “Since some of our experiences cannot be expressed and communicated directly” and so “to reveal the more secret meaning to the attentive”. In the same letter he also demands "that the passionate dichotomy between classics and romantics should finally be reconciled"

According to Walter Hinderer , Faust II represents a criticism of modernity and culture, whereby in the final scene their tension with the humanistic ideal of humanity is overcome. Oswald Spengler , too, saw a comprehensive cultural criticism in Faust and described everything post-ancient as "Faustian", i.e. H. technologically dominating and utilizing nature. The work is often referred to as a dramatic or philosophical panopticon, and Goethe himself often called it incommensurable .

The interpretation of Goethe's Faust II from an economic point of view by the former head of Deutsche Bank Josef Ackermann and his doctoral supervisor Hans Christoph Binswanger in an interview in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) on September 30 shows that the subject is still modern and by no means dead June 2009. They shed light on the magic that lies in the creation of money and the ambivalence of the money created on the proposal of Mephistopheles in its effect through the bet on time with the risk of triggering inflation instead of economic growth and the journeymen Raufebold, Habebald and to attract hold fast (violence, greed and avarice). Goethe also deals with the change from fiefdoms , which must be treated with care, to property that can be “used, but also consumed, plundered, destroyed”, and the omnipotence dreams of man (in the person of Faust) that are triggered by this in the work his economic experience from ten years as finance and economics minister at the Weimar court and his extensive studies of economics processed.

Productions by Faust II (selection)

  • 1852 - Eckermann set up a largely authentic and complete version of the piece, which was considered unplayable, for the stage by dividing it into three parts: Faust at the Emperor's court , the 1st act, was performed once on October 20, 1852 on the occasion of the 50th year of service of the composer Eberwein - who wrote the musical framework. The two remaining parts of Faust and Helena and Faust's Death were only performed twice in Weimar after Eckermann 's death - on June 24th and September 28th, 1856.
  • 1875/76 - World premiere, including the second part published posthumously in 1832 in the Hoftheater zu Weimar under the direction of Otto Devrient with music by Eduard Lassen . The festive experience under the title Goethe's Faust as a Mystery in two days lasted - despite drastic deletions in the 2nd part - from 6 to 11 1/2 hours. Quote from Gustav von Loeper : “The repeated performances of the second part in recent times show the immense importance of perception. This can at one stroke eliminate the difficulties of understanding; it puts everything individual in the right light, connects it into a whole, and gives everything physiognomy and the normal relationship. To have seen is to know. People from the people, women who could not get past the first few pages while reading the piece, felt captivated and moved by the vividness and imagery of the scenes, by the urgency, the wit and the wisdom, the power and the clarity of the Words. Highly educated people experienced a day in Damascus. ”This version, which Devrient had printed and also performed in Berlin, Cologne and Düsseldorf , still had a rigid three-part stage structure. Additional superstructures were required for quick changes of scenery. Incidentally, this is the first Weimar Faust since 1829. Egon Friedell wrote about the “Weimar School”: “Goethe and Schiller have ... spread a downright terrible type of theater over Germany ... Goethe's basic maxim was: 'The actor should always remember that he is about is there for the public's sake '; as a result, he should not play 'out of misunderstood naturalness' as if no third party was there. […] Taken literally, externalized and exaggerated in a way that borders on the incomprehensible. The performers always had to form a graceful semicircle, were never allowed to speak into the background, never show their backs to the audience, even just show their profile. The main emphasis was placed on cultured presentation: an exaggeratedly clear articulation that blurs the personality of the actor and the character of the character, and a kind of singing declamation that was believed to be the pinnacle of beauty, in short, it was the reduction of the art of acting to mere art Recitation and a number of fixed representation gestures; ... "
Stage design by Helmut Jürgens for Faust. The tragedy part two. Performance of the Kammerspiele Munich 1949
  • 1938 - Performance of both parts for seven days, unabridged at the Goetheanum in Dornach (Switzerland), staged by Rudolf Steiner's widow Marie Steiner . Since then, it has been played there at irregular intervals 75 times in full, most recently in 2017 in a production by Christian Peter. A special feature of the Dornach productions is the use of eurythmy.
  • 1957/58 - The new production of Faust with Will Quadflieg (Faust), Gustaf Gründgens (Mephisto), Ella Büchi (Gretchen), Elisabeth Flickenschildt (Marthe), took place in the Deutsches Schauspielhaus in Hamburg under the direction and management (from 1955) Gründgens' Max Eckard (Valentin), Eduard Marks (Wagner), Uwe Friedrichsen (pupil). Gustaf Gründgens worked step by step with his set designer Teo Otto for the cleared version. Both confessed to their "lack of imagination" and showed the stage as a bare skeleton. Gründgens developed his concept based on the foreplay in the theater . Accordingly, everything (heaven, hell, big or small world) was the world of theater. This celebrated new version of both parts (?) Also made a guest appearance in Moscow and was filmed in 1960 with great success. Only in the GDR was the second part seen negatively (Faust as a capitalist exploiter). With this, efforts began in the GDR to surpass Faust II.
  • 1965 - Kayser staged in Leipzig.
  • 1977 - Claus Peymann , Achim Freyer and Hermann Beil staged a frivolous play text in Stuttgart . Faust I and II on two days as a coherent piece on the history of the emergence from the Middle Ages to the development of the bourgeoisie. The stage structure was partly three-tiered. Right at the top resided the Lord with his angels, Faust's world initially remained dark. The lighting technology opened up the Gretchen scenes, for example. All scenes were shortened by lines with the exception of the appropriation and the prologue in heaven . Faust's performances in Stuttgart were sold out for two years. Large parts of the young audience cheered the performers. When Peymann had to leave Stuttgart in 1979 for political reasons, there were so many written orders that Faust could have been played for five years. Martin Lüttge (Faust), Therese Affolter (Gretchen).
  • 1990 - For the reopening of the Dresden Schauspielhaus , Wolfgang Engel staged a Faust for three evenings with the inclusion of foreign texts. Quote Bernd Mahl: “There were plenty of inserts on Walpurgis Night, which takes place in the stairwell of a typical high-rise building with prefabricated panels; the community or individual people roar happily and swaying several beer tent folk songs. ”In the third act, the Friends of Italian Opera played as a band by Euphorion, played by RJKK Hänsch .
  • 2000 - Faust project of Peter Stein : first uncoated overall performance of both parts by a professional theater company - with Bruno Ganz "old" as and Christian Nickel as "young" Faust. Johann Adam Oest and Robert Hunger-Bühler shared the role of Mephisto. Dorothee Hartinger gave the Margarete. There were a total of 80 employees, 33 of whom were ensemble actors. Sponsors: EXPO 2000 , Deutsche Bank , DaimlerChrysler , Mannesmann , Ruhrgas , the German Federal Government, the Berlin Senate, the City of Vienna and 850 private sponsors . Premiere on 22./23. July and series until September 24, 2000 at the EXPO 2000 in Hanover , guest performance in Berlin (October 21, 2000 to July 15, 2001) and Vienna (September 8 to December 16, 2001). The duration of the performance (including breaks) was 21 hours, pure playing time 15 hours, divided into 3 weekend and 6 evening performances in halls specially adapted for this major project. In the two arcades, 18 different stage rooms were created, between which the audience switched. The single entry price was € 233. The director Peter Stein, self-critical, five years after the 15 million € major project: "You go to the third or fourth performance and see what kind of junk it is." ( Der Tagesspiegel , October 1, 2005)
  • 2007 - Intendant Ansgar Haag staged Faust I + II with Hans-Joachim Rodewald (old Faust), Peer Roggendorf (young Faust), Roman Weltzien ( Mephistopheles ) at the Meininger Theater . Ekkehart Krippendorff headlined his review in the weekly newspaper Freitag 26 of June 29, 2007: “World theater in South Thuringia. Ansgar Haag's politically critical staging of Faust shows Goethe's heroes as the incarnation of the European power man. ”This double evening was awarded the Land of Ideas Prize under the patronage of Federal President Horst Köhler . Both parts were recorded for television from April 14th to 17th, 2008 by the Novapol TV company Berlin-Weimar . The Resch publishing house published a photo documentation by Hans Hermann Dohmen under the title Meininger Faust ( ISBN 978-3-932831-02-7 ).
  • 2009 - Under the direction and direction of Matthias Hartmann , with Tobias Moretti as Faust and Gert Voss as Mephisto, both parts are brought to the stage of the Vienna Burgtheater . The total playing time is 7 hours. The premiere was on September 4th. This is the first new staging of Faust at the Haus am Ring since 1976, and the first performance of the second part - though heavily canceled - at the castle .


  • 1827, Helena. Classic-romantic phantasmagoria. Interlude to Faust in volume 4 of the pocket edition and the large octave edition (C1 1827 and C 1828), JG Cotta'sche Buchhandlung. Partial print of Faust 2, authorized by Goethe, Stuttgart.
  • 1828, Faust. Second part in volume 12 of the paperback edition and the large octave edition (C1 1828 and C 1829). Stuttgart: JG Cotta'sche Buchhandlung. Partial print authorized by Goethe. These editions end with verse 6036 of the scene Imperial Palatinate in the first act, with the signature: "To continue".
  • 1832 and 1833, Faust. Part two of the tragedy in five acts. (Completed in the summer of 1831.) In: Complete last edition, Volume 41, Stuttgart: JG Cotta'sche Buchhandlung, edited by Friedrich Wilhelm Riemer and Johann Peter Eckermann (C1 1832 and C 1833), with dubious editorial independence. Digitized and full text in the German text archive
  • 1888, Weimar Edition Vol. 15, in two part volumes (text volume and readings) ed. by Erich Schmidt . Weimar: Böhlau. Here the originally sealed, complete main manuscript from 1831 was the basis of the processing.
  • 1949, Hamburg edition vol. 3, ed. by Erich Trunz . Hamburg: Wegner.
  • 1949, new complete edition of the original publisher vol. 5 ed. by Liselotte Lohrer. Stuttgart: Cotta o. J., 1949ff.
  • 1950, commemorative edition vol. 5, ed. by Ernst Beutler . Zurich: Artemis
  • 1965, Berlin edition vol. 8, ed. by Gotthard Erler . Berlin: construction
  • 1971, Reclam booklet based on the Weimar edition by Erich Schmidt, Universal Library No. 2. Stuttgart: Philipp Reclam jun.
  • Fist. The second part of tragedy in five acts. (1831.). Critically edited by Uvo Hölscher. In: Gisela Henckmann, Dorothea Hölscher-Lohmeyer (Hrsg.): Johann Wolfgang Goethe: Complete works by epochs of his work. Munich edition. Vol. 18.1: Last years. 1827-1832. Hanser, Munich 1997, pp. 103-351.
  • Faust Edition , digital historical-critical edition

Secondary literature

  • Lutz Abeling: Goethe's Faust. A philosophical interpretation. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2015, ISBN 978-1511418461 .
  • Theodor W. Adorno : To the final scene of Faust. In: Notes on literature. Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt a. M. 1974.
  • H. Arens: Commentary on Goethe's Faust I. Carl Winter Universitätsverlag, Heidelberg 1982, ISBN 3-533-03184-5 . Standard scientific commentary. Line comment.
  • Rüdiger Bernhardt: Explanations on Johann Wolfgang von Goethe: Faust II , text analysis and interpretation (vol. 43). C. Bange Verlag , Hollfeld 2012, ISBN 978-3-8044-1983-4 .
  • A. Binder: Faustian world. LIT Verlag, Münster 2002, ISBN 3-8258-5924-X . Comments and interpretations.
  • Hans Christoph Binswanger : Money and Magic. An economic interpretation by Goethe's Faust Murmann Verlag; 5th edition 2010, ISBN 978-3-86774-110-1 .
  • Felix Bobertag : Faust and Helena . Goethe Yearbook , Volume 1 (1880), pp. 44–80 ( digitized version ).
  • Theodor Friedrich, Lothar J. Scheithauer: Commentary on Goethe's Faust. (Reclam 7177, editions: 1932, 1959, 1980)
  • Ulrich Gaier: Faust's modernity.
  • Ulrich Gaier: Faust seals. Comments I . In: Johann Wolfgang Goethe: Faust seals . Philipp Reclam jun. Verlag, Stuttgart 1999, ISBN 3-15-030019-3 . Scene and line commentary in different readings.
  • Peter Hacks: Faust Notes , in: The standards of art , (e.g. Hacks work edition, Vol. 13, p. 46).
  • Heinz Hamm : Goethe's “Faust”. Work history and text analysis. 1997.
  • Michael Jäger: Faust's Colony. Goethe's Critical Phenomenology of Modernity.
  • Gerhard Kaiser: Can Man Be Saved? Vision and criticism of modernity in Goethe's Faust.
  • Literature sheet. Edited by Wolfgang Menzel . May 1833. (online at: )
  • Karl Pestalozzi: Mountain gorges. The final scene from Goethe's Faust. Basel 2012.
  • Alexander Reck: Friedrich Theodor Vischer - Parodies of Goethe's Faust. Heidelberg 2007 (Supplement to Euphorion 53).
  • Albrecht Schöne: Faust. Comments . Contained in: Goethe: Faust . Deutscher Klassiker Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 1994, ISBN 3-618-60270-7 . Modern comment.
  • Erich Trunz: Goethe: Faust - commented by Erich Trunz CH Beck, ISBN 3-406-55250-1 .
  • JM van der Laan: Seeking Meaning for Goethe's Faust. Continuum, 2007, ISBN 978-0-8264-9304-0 .
  • Gero von Wilpert : Goethe-Lexikon (= Kröner's pocket edition . Volume 407). Kröner, Stuttgart 1998, ISBN 3-520-40701-9 .



Web links

Wikisource: Faust - The Tragedy Part Two  - Sources and full texts
Commons : Faust Illustrations  - album with pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Frank Nager: The healing poet. Goethe and medicine. Artemis, Zurich / Munich 1990; 4th edition ibid. 1992, ISBN 3-7608-1043-8 , pp. 218-220 ( Wagner - the healing technician ), 237-239 ( Wagner as a symbol of modern medical technology ) and 251-253.
  2. Others, denying themselves, by rising up as an expression of high love. From: Commentar on the second part… by Dr. Loewe, 1834: (online at: ) .
  3. Magna Peccatrix (“The great sinner”, Lk 7.36–50  EU ); Mulier Samaritana (“The woman from Samaria”, Jn 4,16–19  EU ) and Maria Aegyptiaca
  4. partitive genitive of the Latin adjective poenitens, 'atoning, penitent', i.e. 'one of the penitents'
  5. George Cebadal: Goethe, Schiller and the veiled truth. A small contribution to the mystery culture in Goethe's "Faust" poetry and the Weimar Classic .
  6. Jan Assmann, Florian Ebeling: Egyptian Mysteries. Travel to the Underworld in Enlightenment and Romance . S. 29 .
  7. "Queen of Heaven!" and "Goddess!" ( ; alternatively: Apuleius: The golden donkey, translated by August Rode, Dessau 1783 (vol. 2), p. 195)
  8. ^ Karl Friedrich Göschel: Ueber Göthe's Faust and its continuation , Leipzig, HF Hartmann 1824, p. 208 (online)
  9. ^ Gotthold Ephraim Lessing: Fragments of the drama: D. Faust
  10. Jochen Schmidt: Goethe's "Faust". First and second part: Basics - Work - Effect . Beck, Munich 1999, ISBN 3-406-44894-1 , pp. 28-33.
  11. Usually tragedies do not end with a “redemption” of the main character, but with a catastrophe.
  12. Markus Kraiger: Redemption in Goethe's "Faust". Conflicts of interpretation . Master's thesis, Düsseldorf 2011, p. 24 f. Internet source:
  13. Wolfgang Wittkowski: VIA RECTA? Faust's final vision and end . In: VIA REGIA - sheets for international cultural communication (Ed .: European culture and information center in Thuringia). Issue 21/22 1995, p. 2
  14. ^ Johann Peter Eckermann: Conversations with Goethe. Monday, June 6th, 1831 ( online )
  15. ^ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe: Faust: the tragedy first and second part; Urfaust; commented by Erich Trunz . CH Beck, 1986 ( full text in the Google book search).
  16. Victor Lange: Images, Ideas, Terms: Goethe Studies . Königshausen & Neumann, 1997 ( full text in the Google book search).
  17. ^ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe: Faust: the tragedy first and second part; Urfaust; commented by Erich Trunz . CH Beck, 1986 ( full text in the Google book search).
  18. Walter Hinderer: Goethe and the age of romanticism . Königshausen & Neumann, 2002 ( full text in the Google book search).
  19. Oswald Spengler: The fall of the occident. Special Edition: Outlines of a Morphology in World History . CHBeck, 1998 ( full text in Google book search).
  20. Benedikt Fehr and Holger Steltzner: Josef Ackermann and Hans Christoph Binswanger “There is a lack of money. Well, then do it! ”In: FAZ.NET. FAZ Electronic Media GmbH, June 30, 2009 . Website of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. Retrieved August 8, 2012.
  21. Hannah Lütkenhöner: Eduard Lassen's music to Goethe's Faust op.57 , Sinzig: Studiopunkt 2015
  22. a b From: Peter Stein stages Faust by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe: Das Programmbuch. Faust I and II. Ed. by Roswitha Schieb with the assistance of Anna Haas, Cologne: DuMont 2000, ISBN 3-7701-5418-5 .
  23. Ursula May: Faust appears twice , features section, Nürnberger Nachrichten from 1./2. September 1990.
  24. Benjamin Heinrichs: Two fists and no Hallelujah , Die Zeit of September 7, 1990.
  25. Article by ORF from September 5, 2009: (online at: )