Goethe's Faust - A Man of Un-heroic Proportions Essay

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Faust: A Man of Un-heroic Proportions

In Faust, Goethe builds a dramatic poem around the strengths and weaknesses of a man who under a personalized definition of a hero fails miserably. A hero is someone that humanity models themselves and their actions after, someone who can be revered by the masses as an individual of great morality and strength, a man or woman that never sacrifices his beliefs under adversity. Therefore, through his immoral actions and his unwillingness to respect others rights and privileges, Faust is determined to be a man of un-heroic proportions.

It is seen early in the poem, that Faust has very strong beliefs and a tight moral code that is deeply rooted in his quest for knowledge. Sitting in his den,
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Under Mephisto's magical potion, Faust becomes intoxicated with passion and controlled by his hormones. It is under this spell that he approaches the "beautiful" Gretchen, however, the feeling of passion is not mutual between the two. Faust realizes then, that his simple looks and personality will not attract Gretchen, rather Faust must deceive and manipulate this woman in order to possess her. Thus, Faust turns to Mephisto for help in his quest for Gretchen, "Get me that girl, and don't ask why?"(257) Mephisto replies with a quote that establishes the nature at which Faust will pursue Gretchen with, "We'd waste our time storming and running; we have to have recourse to cunning."(261) It is from this point in the story that Faust declines into a state of immorality and irresponsibility; a level he will remain at for the majority of the story. Faust's immorality emerges from the idealization that despite harming others, there are not any consequences to his actions. The harm in combining Faust and Mephisto is that their actions become dangerous and deadly. Faust becomes an unstoppable, Napoleonic figure, when his irresponsibility is mixed with Mephisto's lethal power. Gretchen is Faust's first victim, before her death she was responsible for three deaths; ultimately she is imprisoned because of Faust's influence upon her. Faust's desire for progress and reformation in society led to the deaths of his second set of victims, an elderly couple. Thus,

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