Faust as a Tragic HeroIn the story of Faust, written by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Faust is whirled into an adventure of sin and deceit.
The further Faust follows the devil the closer he comes to his own demise, taking down with him the innocent Gretchen. As Faust goes on he embodies the characteristics of a tragic hero in a sense that he is borderline good and evil, constantly battling his conscience. The one major flaw that initiates his self-destruction is the fact that he feels he is extremely intelligent and can not be out witted.
Faust is a man of privilege, his father having been a doctor and himself a respected scholar; but he is essentially a desperate character, continuously yearning for more than this world has to offer. He is an extremely well educated man as well as wise in the ways of the world. As a result of his exceeding knowledge he becomes grossly cynical in his old age. His quest for greater knowledge and power leads him into the realm of sorcery and witch craft.
Faust’s dealings with darkness eventually lead him to deal with the ruler of all that is wicked and deceitful, the devil himself. Naturally Faust, longing for more than earthly pleasures, is compelled to accept Mephistopheles’ promises of complete contentment and satisfaction. Faust’s ego is such that he feels he can not be out witted even by the most skillful and cunning deceiver to ever walk the face of the earth. Soon Faust is on a journey leading to more misery and torment than he could ever imagine.Mephisto, as he is nick named by Faust, first tries to tempt Faust with the guilty pleasures of the drink and make-merry lifestyle. However, Faust is far too knowledgeable and wise to be seduced by petty enjoyments of song and drink. Mephisto realizes he will have to raise the stakes if he is to win the jackpot within Faust.
Faust is not tempted by worldly attractions in his current old, feeble state, so Mephisto decides to get Faust a potion to make him thirty years younger. Now that Faust is young and vibrant Mephisto has created a home court advantage, after all that is the nature of his game.Soon Faust is tempted by the pure, lovely Gretchen and decides that he absolutely must have her at all cost; further propelling him to his tragic end. After Faust finally gets what he wants out of Gretchen he soon realizes he has lead Gretchen to her doom.
Faust’s dealings with Gretchen lead to the death of both her mother and her brother, leaving Gretchen alone to deal with the even larger problem that is growing inside her. Faust soon acknowledges the error of his ways and knows he is unable to fix the trouble he has cause, this further adds to the tragic aspect of Faust’s character. Faust falls short of being a complete tragedy in that he turns back from following Mephisto straight to the depths of despair.
Perhaps the greatest tragic quality of Faust is that the reader pities him as the story goes on. At first Faust might be viewed as an arrogant and conceited character, and he probably is. The further he goes on his journey the more evil he seems to become as he steals the innocence and purity of the virgin Gretchen. At this point the reader may even feel a bit of despise toward Faust ,but as he realizes the error of his ways and tries to turn his life around it is hard not to pity Faust or at least his situation.
The closer Faust gets to his doom the more hope the reader has that he will find a way to escape his tragic destruction.Altogether Faust embodies everything that makes a tragic hero. He was born to a life of some privilege but is destined to make the mistake of dealing with the powers of evil.
He is then entangled in a downward spiral from his esteemed position toward an end of utter destruction. Eventually he realizes the errors of his ways and faces the consequences of his actions as he witnesses the destruction of Gretchen. Faust falls short of complete tragedy in that he eventually escapes death and saves his soul from eternal torment. Faust even evokes pitty from the audience as he tries to make good out of the evil he has caused, which is a characteristic of all tragic heros(Literary Terms for Tragic Heroes). Works Cited”Literary Terms for Tragic Heroes.” Teach the Teachers Collaborative.
15 Mar. 2005. 16 Mar. 2005.