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     Literature Goethe: Faust IV.14 Straße II (A Street II)

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Goethe: Faust

  IV.14 Straße II (A Street II)

Mephistopheles informs Faust, that the following day he can meet Margaret in the house of the neighbour Martha. The only thing that he has to do is to confirm the death of the husband of Martha. Faust denies, because he is not willing to give witness for something that he does not know. Mephistopheles answers that all his life Faust has taught things that he actually does not know anything about.

Since the scene of Auerbach's cellar in Leipsic Mephistopheles has turnt into a quite sympathetic person for his wit, his irony, for his willingness to play tricks on anybody. He understands, what actually happened and his psychological descriptions of the "jolly companions", of Faust and of the church are quite precise. Intellectually he has the same level as Faust. By not only trying to bring Faust to fall, but also by his open way of making fun of Faust he turns into a person, a human being. One cannot deny that Faust feels the same for Margaret like Dante Alighieri felt for Beatrice.

  Dante Alighieri, La vida nueva
         
  Sonetto XI The eleventh sonett   Elftes Sonett  
Ne li occhi porta la mia donna Amore,
per che si fa gentil ciò ch' ella mira;
ov' ella passa, ogni uom vêr lei si gira,
e cui saluta fa tremar lo core,


sí che, bassando il viso, tutto ismore,
e d'ogni suo difetto allor sospira:
fugge dinanzi a lei superbia ed ira.
Aiutatemi, donne, farle onore.


Ogne dolcezza, ogne pensero umile
nasce nel core a chi parlar la sente;
ond' è laudato chi prima la vide.

Quel ch' ella par quand' un poco sorride,
non si può dire
né tenere a mente,
sí è novo miracolo e gentile.

  My lady carries love within her eyes;
All that she looks on is made pleasanter;
Upon her path men turn to gaze at her; He whom she greeteth feels his heart to rise;
And droops his troubled visage full of sighs; And of his evil heart is then aware: Hate loves, and pride becomes a worshipper.

O women, help to praise her in somewise. Humbleness, and the hope that hopeth well; By speech of hers into the mind are brought; And who beholds is blessèd oftenwhiles.

The look she hath when she a little smiles; Cannot be said, nor holden in the thought; ’Tis such a new and gracious miracle.

Die Liebe wohnt in meiner Herrin Blicken; Die, was sie anschaun, wunderbar verklären; wem einen Gruß sie gnadenvoll gewähren, Dem bebt durchs Herz unsagbar ein Entzücken.

Der muß die Stirn betroffen abwärts kehren; Ob seiner Mängel seufzend, die ihn drücken; Selbst Haß und Hochmut muß vor ihr sich bücken -

Drum helft, ihr Frauen, mir, sie hoch zu ehren! Wer hören darf des Mundes süßen Laut; Dem schwillt das Herz in ehrfurchtsfollen Wonnen; Drum selig, wer das erstemal sie schaut.

Doch wenn sie kaum zu lächeln hat begonnen: Kein Wort kanns schildern, kein Vergleich erreichen - Ein Wunder ist es, neu und ohnegleichen!


But one cannot deny that he sees the woman in Margaret, a totally different love. Mephistopheles tries to reduce this love to just this, but this is not 100 percent right, it's not 100 percent wrong either. Even though Faust does not want to accept this fact, in the bottom of his heart he knows that he is a man.

In this dialogue Mephistopheles makes fun of Faust for two reasons. For one, that Faust denies to give false witness about the death of Mr. Schwerdtlein and for the other, that he knows that he knows about the oaths that Faust is going to swear to Margaret about eternal love in the most beautiful words, still knowing that this love is not that divine. In fewer words, he makes fun of the hypocrisy of Faust.

  MEPHISTOPHELES:
  MEPHISTOPHELES
  O heil'ger Mann! Da wärt Ihr's nun!
Ist es das erstemal in eurem Leben,
Daß Ihr falsch Zeugnis abgelegt?
Habt Ihr von Gott, der Welt und was sich drin bewegt,
Vom Menschen, was sich ihm in den Kopf und Herzen regt,
Definitionen nicht mit großer Kraft gegeben?
Mit frecher Stirne, kühner Brust?
Und wollt Ihr recht ins Innre gehen,
Habt Ihr davon, Ihr müßt es grad gestehen,
So viel als von Herrn Schwerdtleins Tod gewußt!
  O saintly man! Then you would be a saint indeed!
Is it the first time in your life
You've borne false witness? Well, I wonder!
Of God, the world, and what therein is rife,
Of man, what stirs within his heart and brain,
Have you no definition given with might and main?
With brazen brow and dauntless breast?
And if you'll only probe things truly,
You knew of them - you must confess it duly-
No more than of this Schwerdtlein's death and place of rest!
  FAUST:
  FAUST.
  Du bist und bleibst ein Lügner, ein Sophiste.
  You are and you remain a liar, sophist too.
  MEPHISTOPHELES:
  MEPHISTOPHELES
  Ja, wenn man's nicht ein bißchen tiefer wüßte.
Denn morgen wirst, in allen Ehren,
Das arme Gretchen nicht betören
Und alle Seelenlieb ihr schwören?
  Yes, if one did not have a little deeper view.Will you not presently cajole
Poor Gretchen - in all honour too - and swear
To her the love of all your soul?
  FAUST:
  FAUST.
  Und zwar von Herzen.
  Aye, swear it from my heart.
  MEPHISTOPHELES:
  MEPHISTOPHELES
  Gut und schön!
Dann wird von ewiger Treu und Liebe,
von einzig überallmächt'gem Triebe-
Wird das auch so von Herzen gehn?
  Fine, I declare!
Then there'll be talk of love, fidelity eternal,
Of one almighty force supernal-
Will that too issue from your heart alone?
  FAUST:
  FAUST.
  Laß das! Es wird!- Wenn ich empfinde,
Für das Gefühl, für das Gewühl
Nach Namen suche, keinen finde,
Dann durch die Welt mit allen Sinnen schweife,
Nach allen höchsten Worten greife,
Und diese Glut, von der ich brenne,
Unendlich, ewig, ewig nenne,
Ist das ein teuflisch Lügenspiel?
  Have done! It will! - And when I'm feeling,
When for the feeling, for my senses' reeling,
I seek for names and yet find none,
Then through the world with every sense sweep on,
Toward all the loftiest phrases, grasping, turn,
And this the glow from which I burn,
Endless, eternal, aye, eternal name,
Is that a devilish, lying game?
  MEPHISTOPHELES:   MEPHISTOPHELES
  Ich hab doch recht!   And yet I'm right!
  FAUST:   FAUST.
  Hör! merk dir dies- Ich bitte dich, und schone meine Lunge-:
Wer recht behalten will und hat nur eine Zunge,
Behält's gewiß.
Und komm, ich hab des Schwätzens Überdruß,
Denn du hast recht, vorzüglich weil ich muß.
  Take heed! Mark this from me,
I beg of you, and spare my lungs:
He who maintains he's right - if his the gift of tongues-
Will have the last word certainly.
So come, this prating rouses my disgust;
I'll say you're right, especially since I must.
 

"I'll say you're right, especially since I must.", he says at the end. In other words, he exactly knows that Mephistopheles is right, but he doesn't want to accept the fact.
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