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     Literature Goethe: Faust V. Some verses

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Exercise: Goethe, Faust

  V. Some verses

10) ... du gleichst dem Geist, den du begreifst, nicht mir ...

  GEIST:   SPIRIT.
Du gleichst dem Geist, den du begreifst, Nicht mir! (verschwindet) Thou art like the spirit thou canst comprehend,
Not me! [Vanishes.]
     

These verses are quite famous as well, although the general use is mostly far from the context. There are a lot of people who interpret the character, the behaviour and the aims of other people according to their own. To these people one can say: Thou art like the spirit thou canst comprehend, Not me!

The situation we have here is a bit different. Faust believes himself to be a superman, but when he achieves to call a spirit, he can't stand it. The spirit is too strong for Faust. Faust believes himself to be on the same level as the spirit, but the spirit that he is like himself and not like an omnipotent spirit. This is another frustration for Faust. Later Faust says something similar to Mephistopheles.

  FAUST:   FAUST.
Ward eines Menschen Geist, in seinem hohen Streben,
Von deinesgleichen je gefaßt?
Was any human spirit, struggling to ascend,
Such as your sort could ever comprehend?
     

And evidently this is not the case. Mephistopheles does not really understand Faust's aspirations. Or, better said, he understands them but thinks that he can break them. Of course there are a lot of people that might have problems in understand the aspirations of others. These people can be asked: Was any human spirit, struggling to ascend, Such as your sort could ever comprehend?
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