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Goethe: Faust

  IV.10 Strasse I (A Street I)

With this scene the real tragedy, or maybe better the relationship between Faust und Margaret starts. At the end of this relationship three people are dead, Margarete, her brother and their mother. One could say that Faust is to blame for this tragedy, or Mephistopheles? Faust is responsible for this tragedy in the way that he should have known that according to the rules of this society a relation like this is not accepted. And this is also the reason why this relation turns into a fiasco.

But even more to blame is the society and its hypocrisy that has established these norms. We can't say, if Faust is directly responsible for the death of the mother of Margaret, because we don't know whether she died of the sleeping pills, that he made Margaret give her or of the pain of the illegitimate relation between Faust and Margaret.

If we remember the scene "Outside the gate of town" we know that it is a society hypocrite. On the one hand side everyone is looking for a little adventure, on the other side it is not tolerated to do so. When referring to the German society of today the situation has changed completely, which does not mean that there are not ethnical groups within the German society that still have the same problems. Faust falls in love with Margaret after he has exchanged only a little phrase with her.

  Mein schönes Fräulein, darf ich wagen,
Meinen Arm und Geleit Ihr anzutragen?
My fair young lady, may I make so free
As to lend you my arm and company?
  Bin weder Fräulein, weder schön,
Kann ungeleitet nach Hause gehn.
  I'm not a lady, am not fair;
I can go home without your care.

As always with this type of love, it has something of madness. He doesn't know anything about her, but he imagines whatever. It seems that love needs very little to spring to live.

  Beim Himmel, dieses Kind ist schön!
So etwas hab ich nie gesehn.
Sie ist so sitt- und tugendreich,
Und etwas schnippisch doch zugleich.
Der Lippe Rot, der Wange Licht,
Die Tage der Welt vergeß ich's nicht!
Wie sie die Augen niederschlägt,
Hat tief sich in mein Herz geprägt;
Wie sie kurz angebunden war,
Das ist nun zum Entzücken gar!
  By heaven, but this child is fair!
I've never seen her equal anywhere!
So virtuous, modest, through and through,
Yet with a bit of curtness too.
Her ruby lips, her cheek's clear bloom,
I'll not forget till the day of doom!
And then how she casts down her eyes,
Stamped deeply in my heart it lies!
How curt and short were her replies,
That fills me with sheer ecstasy!

This is the only scene in the whole work, in which it seems that positions have changed. Normally Mephistopheles laughs about everything that is not very precise. And love is above all an emotion, which is always imprecise. But in this scene it is Faust, who gets as soon as possible to the point.

  Hör, du mußt mir die Dirne schaffen!   Hear, you must get that girl for me!
  Nun, welche?   Well, which one, then?
  Sie ging just vorbei.   She just went by.
  Die da? Sie kam von ihrem Pfaffen,
Der sprach sie aller Sünden frei
Ich schlich mich hart am Stuhl vorbei,
Es ist ein gar unschuldig Ding,
Das eben für nichts zur Beichte ging;
Über die hab ich keine Gewalt!
  That one? She was just coming from her priest,
Absolved from every sin, down to the least.
Hard by the chair I stole quite nigh.
She's innocent in deed and thought
And went to confession all for naught.
Over her I have no power.
  Ist über vierzehn Jahr doch alt.   She's over fourteen years old even so.
  Du sprichst ja wie Hans Liederlich,
Der begehrt jede liebe Blum für sich,
Und dünkelt ihm, es wär kein Ehr
Und Gunst, die nicht zu pflücken wär;
Geht aber doch nicht immer an.
  My word! You talk like gay Lothario
Who covets for himself each lovely flower
And fancies, puffed up, there's no honour, no,
Nor favour that he may not cull;
But yet that is not always possible.
  Mein Herr Magister Lobesan,
Laß Er mich mit dem Gesetz in Frieden!
Und das sag ich Ihm kurz und gut:
Wenn nicht das süße junge Blut
Heut Nacht in meinen Armen ruht,
So sind wir um Mitternacht geschieden.

Sir Master Worshipful, I beg you, pause
And leave me in peace with all your laws!
And this I say - few words are best-
Unless that sweet young maiden lays
Her head this night upon my breast,
At midnight we've gone different ways.

  Bedenkt, was gehn und stehen mag!
Ich brauche wenigstens vierzehn Tag,
Nur die Gelegenheit auszuspüren.
  Consider well what can and can not be.
I'll need at least some fourteen days
But to scent out an opportunity.
  Hätt ich nur sieben Stunden Ruh,
Brauchte den Teufel nicht dazu
So ein Geschöpfchen zu verführen.
  Had I but seven hours' rest, no need
Of devil would I have, to lead
A little creature such as this astray.
  Ihr sprecht schon fast wie ein Franzos;
Doch bitt ich, laßt's Euch nicht verdrießen:
Was hilft's, nur grade zu genießen?
Die Freud ist lange nicht so groß,
Als wenn Ihr erst herauf, herum
Durch allerlei Brimborium,
Das Püppchen geknetet und zugericht't
Wie's lehret manche welsche Geschicht.
  You're talking almost like a Frenchman. Pray
Don't let yourself be vexed beyond due measure.
What good is it to reap immediate pleasure?
The joy's not near so great, I say,
As if you first prepare the ground
With every sort of idle folly,
Knead and make ready your pretty dolly,
As many Romance tales expound.
  Hab Appetit auch ohne das.   I've appetite without that too.

With this "I've appetite without that too." Faust has come to a critical point. In the eyes of Mephistopheles to this the whole relationship between Margaret and Faust could be reduced. Faust puts Mephistopheles to get in contact with Margaret. Mephistopheles seems to be a person with a good sense of practicalities. Faust gets angry when Mephistopheles tries to reduce him to a man, that only sees the woman in Margaret. Although one cannot deny that Faust is not absolutely free of hypocrisy. On the other hand one can also not deny that Margaret represents more than just a woman to Faust. The end will show us, that Faust does not cease to be a responsible person and that he loves Margaret, even though he is not able to save her.