learn german
     Literature Goethe: Faust IV.19 Marthens Garten (Martha's garden)

Goethe: Faust

  IV.19 Marthens Garten (Martha's garden)

In this scene the tragedy comes to its climax. After a dialogue that reveals anew the discrepancies between the strong believe of Margaret and Faust's scepticism. She is willing to give sleeping powder to her mother, that Faust can visit her by night. Knowing that the social conditions are as they are, both Mephistopheles and Faust know that this will lead into the catastrophe.

Although Mephistopheles laughs openly about Faust and put the situation clearly in front of Faust's eyes, Faust cannot resist. In view of the tragedy, that is coming and that could be avoided, Mephistopheles makes fun of the victim of the tragedy. This ways he turns into the devil, the personalisation of the evil. After Hanna Arendt it is often spoken about the "banality of evil", expressing in this way the infernal mechanics of a society, which's members function like cogs. This kind of society without real emotions, without proper personality, such that opens to integrate in any system and always works. With this type of persons the normality can turn into madness, if they "function" within a mad mechanism. Mephistopheles belongs to a type of persons that make fun of everyone and everything in a clever way to cover up his missing personality. If everything is smooth, it is much easier to function as a cog.

Faust commits the same crime, but he is not a "neutralised" person. And this is why Mephistopheles is going to lose his bet. Faust has committed a crime, but he could not make him a cynic. Actually Faust shows again his strong personality and proves, what the Lord had said in the beginning (Prologue in heaven).

Nun gut, es sei dir überlassen!
Zieh diesen Geist von seinem Urquell ab,
Und führ ihn, kannst du ihn erfassen,
Auf deinem Wege mit herab,
Und steh beschämt, wenn du bekennen mußt:
Ein guter Mensch, in seinem dunklen Drange,
ist sich des rechten Weges wohl bewußt.
'Tis well! So be it granted you today!
Divert this spirit from its primal source
And if you can lay hold on him, you may
Conduct him downward on your course,
And stand abashed when you are forced to say:
A good man, though his striving be obscure,
Remains aware that there is one right way.