Faust

The hero that never was In Faust,
Johann Wolfgang von 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,
Faust describes his areas of instruction, "I have, alas, studied
philosophy, jurisprudence and medicine, too, and, worst of
all, theology with keen endeavor, through and through..." It
is obvious that through his studies he has valued deep and
critical thinking, however with the help of Mephisto, he
would disregard his values and pursue the pleasures of the
flesh. Faust\'s impending downward spiral reveals the greed
that both Mephisto and Faust share. Mephisto\'s greed is
evident in the hope that he will overcome Faust\'s morality
and thus be victorious in his wager with God; also because
he is the devil and that is what he does. For Faust, greed
emerges because of his desire to attain physical pleasures
and therefore become whole in mind, body and spirit.
Faust\'s goal to become the Überminche is an understandable
desire, however, the means at which he strives for those
ends are irresponsible and unjust. It is through this greed that
Faust with the help of Mephisto exploit others in the pursuit
of Faust\'s earthly desires. Enter innocent Gretchen, a poor
lower class young woman who experiences the impossible,
love. 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, Mephisto burns them out, a
result that Faust had not asked for specifically, but an action
which served the purpose and was almost as detrimental as
what Faust had intended for them, to move them out of their
home. This action against the elderly is analogous to any
other parts of the story in which Faust commits an illegal or
immoral act to heighten himself in his own eyes. It is obvious
then that Faust is a criminal, a man who abuses the rights of
others to gain spiritual and financial freedom for himself. A
criminal is a personn that should neither be rewarded or
idealized for his actions against society. The only endeavor
that Faust does in order to save himself, is to feel apologetic
and remorseful for his immoral and self-serving actions, and
is therefore allowed into heaven, an ending to the story
which is unreal and unbelievable. Heaven should be a place
where men and women who are virtuous and contain traits
such as honesty, morality and decency should reside to.
Rather, Goethe poetically sends a man whose indirectly
murdered, is dishonest and greedy to such a wondrous and
magical location only because he admits that what he did
was wrong. Attaining passage into heaven is the only
accomplishment that Faust makes in order to attain a heroes
status. Even this final accomplishment is questionable,
because God would not allow a man so unworthy to
accompany people who have such a