Faust Part Two
is the second part of Goethe's Faust
. It was published in 1832, the year of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Because of its complexity in form and content, Faust Part Two is usually not read in German schools, although the first part commonly is.
It can be seen as one of the most difficult works of German literature, requiring an extensive knowledge of Greek mythology.
The first sees Mephistopheles saving the imperial finances of the Emperor — and so the German empire — by introducing the use of paper money. Amidst the ensuing celebrations, Faust enters the "realm of the mothers" — variously described as the depths of the psyche or the womb — in order to bring back the "ideal form" of beauty for the Emperor's delight. In this case, that ideal form is Helen of Troy
. Faust falls in love with Helen.
An artificial person made by an alchemical process, the Homunculus
, leads Faust and Mephistopheles
to the "Classical Walpurgisnacht
", where they encounter gods from Greek antiquity
The third act describes Faust's lust for Helen
, and their son, Euphorion
. The son falls to his death at the end of the act, whereupon Helen also disappears.
In the fourth act, Faust returns to the emperor, who is at war with the Gegenkaiser
. With the help of Mephistopheles' ordered ranks of Daemons they achieve victory.
Faust has nothing left but to tame nature itself. Upon disclosing his plans, Faust recognises the moment of sheer bliss which he would seek to prolong and drops dead. As a result, Mephistopheles believes Faust has lost his wager and tries to claim his soul.
A technicality in the text allows Faust's soul to be redeemed: Instead of saying to a particular moment, "Come on, last a while, you are so pleasant," Faust says that he might be able to say that to the moment. He does not actually claim to be satisfied.
However, as Goethe expresses in the final scene, Mephistopheles' handling of Faust permitted the latter to strive for something essentially positive and thus his soul could be saved. "Whoever strives in ceaseless toil, may obtain redemption". Thus as Mephistopheles gloats, angels descend and retrieve the immortal part of Faust's soul, providing redemption and ascension to the higher realm.
Faust Part One
- E.A. Bucchianeri: Faust: My Soul be Damned for the World. Vol. 2. Bloomington, Indiana: Authorhouse, 2008