Comparison Between Satan in Goray and Faust

Topics: Isaac Bashevis Singer, Faust, Satan in Goray Pages: 2 (838 words) Published: September 29, 2008
Isaac Bashevis Singer's Satan in Goray is the story of a fallen town whose residents suspend logic and reject tradition in their frenzy to reach salvation. The novel is set in the town of Goray the 1660s, directly after a massacre against the Jews of Eastern Europe. Often Singer details his view of the social reality of this time: "The events of 1648 and 1649 had left thousands of women neither married nor widowed, since it was uncertain whether their husbands were alive. Often the rabbinical court had to veer from the strict letter of the law and release a woman from the marriage bond" (11). At the same time, Singer renders Goray a place apart from the other communities and thus distinct from that social reality: "[Goray was] the town that lay in the midst of the hills at the end of the world" (3). And its separation only increases after the events of 1648-9: "The peasants in the surrounding villages had been too terrified even to set foot in Goray, for fear of the demons whose dominion it was" (5). Thus, the historical premise of Singer's story makes it plausible, while the singularity and isolation of the town gives him the freedom to create a sequence of events that might seem unrealistic or impossible. In Faust, Goethe balances similar elements. His Faust is believed to be based upon a historical figure, who survived through legends and folktales before he was immortalized through literature; rather than inventing the entire story, Goethe was inventing a supernatural explanation for a fate of a legendary figure, already understood. The parallels between Faust and Satan in Goray continue. They both open by contrasting what used to be and what is. Faust begins, "I have, alas! Philosophy, / Medicine, Jurisprudence too, / And to my cost Theology, / With ardent labour, studied through. / And here I stand, with all my lore, / Poor fool, no wiser than before" (1-6). While no specific event has changed Faust's life, the very sameness of his routine has...
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