Faust: A Legend of Modern Times Essay

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As the children of a melting pot culture of British, French and German influences, the American consciousness is uniquely poised to reflect upon the impact of one of the most prevalent and oft-retold legends of the modern age: Faust. German in origin but moreover a culmination of various historical figures and indigenous lore, the story of Faust is that of a man who sells his soul to the devil for youth, wealth, pleasure, power or whatever else the writer in question can think to attribute to him. The legend's themes touching so frequently on the subjects of the supernatural and the struggle of good and evil in a Christian mythological setting, it is little wonder that the story has caught the attention and inflamed the imagination of …show more content…
Needless to say, this led to alienation of a most vehement sort. Despite this, however, Faust won the respect of still others, and was offered a teaching position at a prestigious university, possibly in Erfurt, where many stories suggest he lectured on Homer and, through his magic, conjured visages of Homer's characters as physical manifestations, to the delight of his students (Kaufman 13). Response from Erfurt's local religious community was far from favorable and resulted in his banishment, after which it is reported by Melanchton that Faust took to traveling, accompanied by a dog presumed to be the devil in disguise (Drury 87). It is during this period of travel that many of the early stories of Faust began to emerge, describing his visits to various local fairs, working magic for the entertainment of the crowds, and sometimes at royal courts. He was rumored to ride around on bewitched hay bales and barrels, riding them like slightly unglamorous magic carpets (Hefner par. 3-9). And his favorite trick? Conjuring ghosts, sometimes for entertainment, sometimes for terror. Later life found him turning to medical alchemy and reverting into a far more encloistered, hermitic state, until finally reportedly meeting his end at the hands of the devil himself in a rural inn somewhere in his native Württemberg (Guiley 124-125).

The extent to which any of this holds true to actual fact is unknown to even the worldliest

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