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     Literature Goethe: Faust V. Some verses

Exercise: Goethe, Faust

  V. Some verses

8) ... zieh diesen Geist von seinem Urquell ab ...

  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.
  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.

To understand Faust these verses are essential. The Lord speaks of a primal source, but is not quite clear, what it might be. If we see the ambiguous character of Faust, one could interpret that primal source in two different forms. One possibility to understand this primal source is the conscience, that never can be oppressed, which in the end is actually the case with Faust. Mephistopheles achieves to take Faust to a point, that he commits a crime. He seduces Margaret in the plain conscience that this will throw her into an abyss due to the social circumstances. Mephistopheles takes him to the Walpurgis night to make his concience numb, but the effect was not the one he had wished for. The conscience of Faust did not get numb in front of his crime. Just on the contrary it is reinforced by this experience and stronger than ever.

The other interpretation to see this primal source is the desire of Faust to reach for the stars, to open the horizon of utopia as broad as possible. Mephistopheles wants to break this desire, he wants that Faust lets himself lead into an insignificant life. He wants to turn Faust into a cattle-type-person, that is content if only the tummy if filled. But even this Mephistopheles cannot achieve. He loses his bet in both senses.