Human Nature in Faust

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Human Nature Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s Faust Part 1 is filled with a sense of frustration and disappointment as Faust struggles to find pleasure in life. In fact, Faust almost commits suicide because he cannot find the answers he desires and he strikes a deal with the devil. The play opens with a scene in Heaven where Mephistopheles (the devil) convinces God to bet on human nature. God wants to prove that despite struggles people will always return to him while Mephistopheles argues the opposite will happen. In God’s view humans have imperfections but this does not stop them from refining the good within them. God believes that Faust will know the difference between right and wrong despite temptations and personal sin. In this sense Faust’s dissatisfaction and mistakes can be considered an expression of the potential humanity has to improve despite repeated sin. Mephistopheles seeks out Faust and helps him seduce, impregnate and abandon a young girl named Gretchen. As a result of her involvement with Faust Gretchen’s mother and brother die, the community shuns her, and Gretchen drowns her newborn baby after going insane. While awaiting her sentence in a dungeon Gretchen turns herself over to God – accepting responsibility for her actions. The play ends with God declaring her salvation “she is redeemed” (148). Gretchen’s repentance proves God’s faith in humanity suggesting human’s have an innate ability to distinguish between good and evil and cultivate the good regardless of their imperfections. Gretchen seems morally flawless at her first introduction on her way home from church. She comes in contact with a seducer for the first time and as Faust flirts with her she simply turns him away saying “I’m not a lady and I’m not sweet,/ I can get home on my own two feet” (81). Though she lacks experience Gretchen recognized Faust’s advances and conveys
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