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     Literature Goethe: Faust IV.7 Studierzimmer 2 (Faust's study 2)

Goethe: Faust

  IV.7 Studierzimmer 2 (Faust's study 2)

Shortly after Mephistopheles enters the study for the second time, this time dressed like nobleman. In this scene the famous contract between Faust and Mephistopheles is made. Faust does not expect anything from this pact.

In jedem Kleide werd ich wohl die Pein
Des engen Erdelebens fühlen.
Ich bin zu alt, um nur zu spielen,
Zu jung, um ohne Wunsch zu sein.
Was kann die Welt mir wohl gewähren?
Entbehren sollst du! sollst entbehren!
Das ist der ewige Gesang,
Der jedem an die Ohren klingt,
Den, unser ganzes Leben lang,
Uns heiser jede Stunde singt.
Nur mit Entsetzen wach ich morgens auf,
Ich möchte bittre Tränen weinen,
Den Tag zu sehn, der mir in seinem Lauf
Nicht einen Wunsch erfüllen wird, nicht einen,
Der selbst die Ahnung jeder Lust
Mit eigensinnigem Krittel mindert,
Die Schöpfung meiner regen Brust
Mit tausend Lebensfratzen hindert.
I'll feel, whatever my attire,
The pain of life, earth's narrow way
I am too old to be content with play,
Too young to be without desire.
What can the world afford me now?
Thou shalt renounce! Renounce shalt thou!
That is the never-ending song
Which in the ears of all is ringing,
Which always, through our whole life long,
Hour after hour is hoarsely singing.
I but with horror waken with the sun,
I'd fain weep bitter tears, because I see
Another day that, in its course, for me
Will not fulfil one wish - not one,
Yea, that the foretaste of each joy possessed
With carping criticism half erases,
That checks creation in my stirring breast
With thousands of life's grinning faces.

If now referring to the line of narration that we mentioned before the moment of signing the contract is crucial for understanding this work. Therefore we quote here again what we have quoted in The cattle-type-person and Faust; this time just a little bit more complete.

  Werd ich beruhigt je mich auf ein Faulbett legen,
So sei es gleich um mich getan!
Kannst du mich schmeichelnd je belügen,
Daß ich mir selbst gefallen mag,
Kannst du mich mit Genuß betrügen-
Das sei für mich der letzte Tag!
Die Wette biet ich!
  If ever I lay me on a bed of sloth in peace,
That instant let for me existence cease!
If ever with lying flattery you can rule me
So that contented with myself I stay,
If with enjoyment you can fool me,
Be that for me the final day!
That bet I offer!
  Topp!   Done!
Und Schlag auf Schlag!
Werd ich zum Augenblicke sagen:
Verweile doch! du bist so schön!
Dann magst du mich in Fesseln schlagen,
Dann will ich gern zugrunde gehn!
Dann mag die Totenglocke schallen,
Dann bist du deines Dienstes frei,
Die Uhr mag stehn, der Zeiger fallen,
Es sei die Zeit für mich vorbei!
Another hand-clasp! There!
If to the moment I shall ever say:
"Ah, linger on, thou art so fair!"
Then may you fetters on me lay,
Then will I perish, then and there!
Then may the death-bell toll, recalling
Then from your service you are free;
The clock may stop, the pointer falling,
And time itself be past for me!

As said before FAUST is not a homogeneous work that follows the line of narration very clearly and well defined. In this scene, but not only in this one, we have the critique of the academic life that has not lost its relevance in the last 200 years. Faust is professor and a new student that wants to study but doesn't know what to study, awaits him. Since Faust is not able to talk to him, Mephistopheles is the one who gives advice - or actually makes fun of the poor student. The presentation of the academic system in FAUST is very negative. Its best known representative Faust himself is totally disillusioned by this system. He himself says that what he tells his students is a fraud.

Wagner, a colleague and assistant of Faust, is a little, bourgeois hypocrite. Unable to think for himself, he takes all his knowledge from books. In the dialogue with the student we see, that the analysis of Mephistopheles is not very far from the one of Faust. The only thing that's different is the cynicism of Mephistopheles. He describes the academic system as an attack towards spontaneous thinking, creativity, open and full experiences of authentic persons. When only people stop to wonder about the phenomenon, they learn to interpret all phenomenon the same strict way. They also learn that formalities are more important than the phenomenon themself. This system is conenient for people who simply are not able to get the reality with its contradictions. Those people have an identity so simple that they only want one thing - to consume all their energy following one goal. This is, what Schiller says, but Goethe says the same.

  Schiller. Drei Worte des Wahns    Schiller. Three words of Illusion
Du kerkerst den Geist in ein tönend Wort,
Doch der freie wandelt im Sturme fort.
You lock up the spirit with words that boast
but the free spirit walks in the storm.

The cynical Mephistopheles says the same:

Gebraucht der Zeit, sie geht so schnell von hinnen,
Doch Ordnung lehrt Euch Zeit gewinnen.
Mein teurer Freund, ich rat Euch drum
Zuerst Collegium Logicum.
Da wird der Geist Euch wohl dressiert,
In spanische Stiefeln eingeschnürt,
Daß er bedächtiger so fortan
Hinschleiche die Gedankenbahn,
Und nicht etwa, die Kreuz und Quer,
Irrlichteliere hin und her.
Dann lehret man Euch manchen Tag,
Daß, was Ihr sonst auf einen Schlag
Getrieben, wie Essen und Trinken frei,
Eins! Zwei! Drei! dazu nötig sei.
Zwar ist's mit der Gedankenfabrik
Wie mit einem Weber-Meisterstück,
Wo ein Tritt tausend Fäden regt,
Die Schifflein herüber hinüber schießen,
Die Fäden ungesehen fließen,
Ein Schlag tausend Verbindungen schlägt.
Der Philosoph, der tritt herein
Und beweist Euch, es müßt so sein:
Das Erst wär so, das Zweite so,
Und drum das Dritt und Vierte so;
Und wenn das Erst und Zweit nicht wär,
Das Dritt und Viert wär nimmermehr.
Das preisen die Schüler allerorten,
Sind aber keine Weber geworden.
Wer will was Lebendigs erkennen und beschreiben,
Sucht erst den Geist heraus zu treiben,
Dann hat er die Teile in seiner Hand,
Fehlt, leider! nur das geistige Band.
Encheiresin naturae nennt's die Chemie,
Spottet ihrer selbst und weiß nicht wie.
Make use of time, its course so soon is run,
Yet system teaches you how time is won.
I counsel you, dear friend, in sum,
That first you take collegium logicum.
Your spirit's then well broken in for you,
In Spanish boots laced tightly to,
That you henceforth may more deliberately keep
The path of thought and straight along it creep,
And not perchance criss-cross may go,
A - will-o'-wisping to and fro.
Then you'll be taught full many a day
What at one stroke you've done alway,
Like eating and like drinking free,
It now must go like: One! Two! Three!
In fact, when men are fabricating thought,
It goes as when a weaver's masterpiece is wrought.
One treadle sets a thousand threads a-going,
And to and fro the shuttle flies;
Quite unperceived the threads are flowing,
One stroke effects a thousand ties.
Then some philosopher steps in, and he
Will demonstrate to you it so must be:
The first was so, the second so,
And thus the third and fourth are so;
And if no first nor second had been there,
The third and fourth one would be never.
All students prize that everywhere,
But are they weavers? No, they're not that clever.
Who'll know aught living and describe it well,
Seeks first the spirit to expel.
He then has the component parts in hand
But lacks, alas! the spirit's band.
Encheirisis naturae, Chemistry names it so,
Mocking herself but all unwitting though.