The Role of Women in Mephisto, by Klaus Mann

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Discuss Mann’s use of the two women in Hofgen’s life. To what extent do they represent virtue and vice and therefore the possibilities of salvation and determination?

The role of Höfgen is ambivalent, because on various occasions in the novel, he attempts to help his friends. However, these cries remain small, and Höfgen also fears losing his good job from his wealthy patron. For this reason, he calls himself a ‘totally normal actor’ at the very end of novel, and can't understand why his friends have distanced themselves from him. Juliette and Barbara easily play the two most important women in Hofgen’s life; by further analysis of the two we begin to realise that they are characters made to play redemption and resolution in Klaus Mann’s Mephisto.

At the outset, the various relationships and intimacies Hofgen had with Barbara and Juliette influenced his career positively. He had to denounce his relationship with Juliette his black mistress, Juliette, as he thought that his intended alliance with the Nazis would suffer a setback if he continued in this relationship with her. He desires to achieve greater and better things that prompted him to dumping his former female friends as he now formed an intimate relationship with the Germans. His relationships with his female friends had to be stopped as it could impede his chances of him forming a close bond with the Adolf Hitler led Nazis, and so Hofgen changed his political views and his moral values in to become successful in his acting profession. Apart from the title’s allusion to Goethe’s Faust, the inclusion by Klaus Mann of several passages from the play, in particular the fact that Höfgen’s real success arises from his playing the role of Mephisto in Faust, reinforce the connection between his novel and Goethe‟s play. The obvious common theme of ambition and the desire for its satisfaction is met by the shared theme of the ‘good angel’ – the upright and virtuous woman who offers some form of redemption to...
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