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Leaves of Grass
10-31-2006, 02:28 AM
I am new to this site... so hopefully I am doing this correctly. I am reading Goethe's Faust. Actually, I have read it, and I did really enjoy it. I was just wondering if anyone could find a significance to Faust's line "Who will teach me? What must I avoid?" I had to write a paper on it and I got it done, but I just hope I was right. I was wondering if any of you had any ideas on the matter. Thanks!

Susan R. Henley
10-31-2006, 11:37 AM
Hi, I am in the process of reading Faust. Would you please give location for the quote for which you are seeking comments? Do you have a line number?

Thanks, Susan

Logos
10-31-2006, 11:52 AM
FAUST (alone)

Spirit! I dare not lift me to thy sphere.
What though my power compell'd thee to appear,
My art was powerless to detain thee here.
In that great moment, rapture-fraught,
I felt myself so small, so great;
Fiercely didst thrust me from the realm of thought
Back on humanity's uncertain fate!
Who'll teach me now? What ought Ito forego?
Ought I that impulse to obey?
Alas! our every deed, as well as every woe,
Impedes the tenor of life's onward way!

The quote is found near the top of this page:

http://www.online-literature.com/goethe/faust-part-1/5/

Logos
10-31-2006, 11:55 AM
In Firefox or Internet Explorer click "Edit" in the top browser menu, then "Find in this page" and it will show you where a word or phrase is located :)

Susan R. Henley
10-31-2006, 02:11 PM
"Who'll teach me now? What ought I to forego?"

Thank you all for sharing with me where the quote was located. In the version I am studying the translation is:

“With thee I dare not venture to compare me.
Though I possessed the power to draw thee near me,
When that ecstatic moment held me,
I felt myself so small, so great:
But thou has ruthlessly repelled me
Back to man’s uncertain fate.
What shall I shun? Whose guidance borrow?
Shall I accept that stress and strife?
Ah! Every deed of ours, no less than every sorrow,
Impedes the onward march of life…”

For me there are several levels of meaning, what was your interpretation?

Susan

Leaves of Grass
10-31-2006, 09:36 PM
Yes! Haha... thank goodness you at least found it. I only have to write a page (my professor seems insane at times). He will only except a page, so I can't get too in depth, but I discussed how this passage reveals frustration and his desperation to understand what cannot be understood by humanity. This is just a basic explanation of this. Another student in my class told me I was on the right track since my professor mentioned something to that extent, and she told me I should be fine. I was just wondering if any of you have missed something I might have. If you have any comments I would greatly appreciate it! Thanks!

Susan R. Henley
11-01-2006, 09:55 AM
I do not disagree with your assessment of the significance of the quote.

I did spend some time putting it in context with the events in the book. The lines are spoken by Faust when he is finally alone again after conjuring the presence of the Earth Spirit. At the sight of the Earth Spirit, Faust is cowed by the grandeur and power of the Spirit. Initially, Faust cannot even bear to peek at the Spirit; however, he finally musters the courage not only to look at the Spirit but also to address him. In fact, Faust's ego inflates him so that he addresses the Spirit as a peer. It is at this point that the Earth Spirit belittles both Faust and his efforts to understand the mystic--such as the Earth Spirit. After the Earth Spirit departs, Wagner, Faust’s assistant, enters the scene to discern what was the source of all the loud talk he heard coming from Faust’s study. It is only later when Faust is alone that he contemplates the events of earlier that evening.

The invoking of the Earth Spirit was the first time Faust had been successful at reaching a higher mystic plane. While he is elated at the achievement, he is crushed by not only the awe-inspiring visual greatness of the Earth Spirit but also by the words of the Spirit who put him back in his place as a lesser being--even calling him a worm.

So, Faust has reached a major goal which he has worked hard to achieve; but, though that achievement, he realizes that he is not nearly as grand, in the cosmic scheme of things, as he believed himself to be. His ego has been trampled and his premises have been shattered. He is emotionally distraught. As you said, he is disillusioned and struggles with trials of life in which even victories give rise to losses.

As with so much of this book, for me, there are layers of meaning. For instance, Faust seems to be thinking that he can no longer follow his own judgment. A primary implication of this is that Faust has opened the door for Mephistopheles to enter and show him a new path. However, if one keeps in mind the lines with the Prologue discussion between God and Mephistopheles, the quote can be seen to allude to both the path of goodness offered by God and the promise of worldly fulfillment offered by Mephistopheles. The quotation becomes a rhetorical keystone for the choices Faust will face and what happens next in the plot.

Also, although I have not finished reading the book, I believe that, in the end, it is Faust’s reliance on his inner goodness that saves him from damnation--which takes us back to the beginning--that Faust should have trusted his own judgment. Ultimately, it is through this return to trusting his inner concept of “for the greater good” that Faust finds the path to redemption and salvation as offered by God.

IMO

Susan

Leaves of Grass
11-01-2006, 07:55 PM
Thank you so much for your input! It was really amazing! The professor didn't even explain it like that. In fact, he did not explain it at all, and he mentioned something completely different, but your analysis makes a lot more sense. Thanks again!:D

Susan R. Henley
11-02-2006, 09:11 AM
Out of curiousity, what was your professor's explanation of the meaning? I know you mentioned he did not say much; but, what did he say? Thanks. Susan

andia40
12-02-2007, 03:01 AM
hi Susan,
i am donig a research of mine in which i should put some phrases of Faust, so i started to read it and to choose some part of it. then i searched the words in the dictionary but as you know Faust is somthing that needs to be interpret by some one who knows it. visiting your forum i saw your quote so i thought maybe you can help me. if you can please let me know so i will send you the parts in which i am intereste ( there are 4 ). i can also skype you if you think it is better to talk or chat directly.
thank you
andia







I do not disagree with your assessment of the significance of the quote.

I did spend some time putting it in context with the events in the book. The lines are spoken by Faust when he is finally alone again after conjuring the presence of the Earth Spirit. At the sight of the Earth Spirit, Faust is cowed by the grandeur and power of the Spirit. Initially, Faust cannot even bear to peek at the Spirit; however, he finally musters the courage not only to look at the Spirit but also to address him. In fact, Faust's ego inflates him so that he addresses the Spirit as a peer. It is at this point that the Earth Spirit belittles both Faust and his efforts to understand the mystic--such as the Earth Spirit. After the Earth Spirit departs, Wagner, Faust’s assistant, enters the scene to discern what was the source of all the loud talk he heard coming from Faust’s study. It is only later when Faust is alone that he contemplates the events of earlier that evening.

The invoking of the Earth Spirit was the first time Faust had been successful at reaching a higher mystic plane. While he is elated at the achievement, he is crushed by not only the awe-inspiring visual greatness of the Earth Spirit but also by the words of the Spirit who put him back in his place as a lesser being--even calling him a worm.

So, Faust has reached a major goal which he has worked hard to achieve; but, though that achievement, he realizes that he is not nearly as grand, in the cosmic scheme of things, as he believed himself to be. His ego has been trampled and his premises have been shattered. He is emotionally distraught. As you said, he is disillusioned and struggles with trials of life in which even victories give rise to losses.

As with so much of this book, for me, there are layers of meaning. For instance, Faust seems to be thinking that he can no longer follow his own judgment. A primary implication of this is that Faust has opened the door for Mephistopheles to enter and show him a new path. However, if one keeps in mind the lines with the Prologue discussion between God and Mephistopheles, the quote can be seen to allude to both the path of goodness offered by God and the promise of worldly fulfillment offered by Mephistopheles. The quotation becomes a rhetorical keystone for the choices Faust will face and what happens next in the plot.

Also, although I have not finished reading the book, I believe that, in the end, it is Faust’s reliance on his inner goodness that saves him from damnation--which takes us back to the beginning--that Faust should have trusted his own judgment. Ultimately, it is through this return to trusting his inner concept of “for the greater good” that Faust finds the path to redemption and salvation as offered by God.

IMO

Susan