Faust as a Tragic Hero
In the story of Faust, written by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Faust is whirled into an adventure of sin and deceit. The further Faust follows the devil the closer he comes to his own demise, taking down with him the innocent Gretchen. As Faust goes on he embodies the characteristics of a tragic hero in a sense that he is borderline good and evil, constantly battling his conscience. The one major flaw that initiates his self-destruction is the fact that he feels he is extremely intelligent and can not be out witted.
Faust is a man of privilege, his father having been a doctor and himself a respected scholar; but he is essentially a desperate character, continuously yearning for more than this world has to offer. He is an extremely well educated man as well as wise in the ways of the world. As a result of his exceeding knowledge he becomes grossly cynical in his old age. His quest for greater knowledge and power leads him into the realm of sorcery and witch craft.
Faust's dealings with darkness eventually lead him to deal with the ruler of all that is wicked and deceitful, the devil himself. Naturally Faust, longing for more than earthly pleasures, is compelled to accept Mephistopheles' promises of complete contentment and satisfaction. Faust's ego is such that he feels he can not be out witted even by the most skillful and cunning deceiver to ever walk the face of the earth. Soon Faust is on a journey leading to more misery and torment than he could ever imagine.
Mephisto, as he is nick named by Faust, first tries to tempt Faust with the guilty pleasures of the drink and make-merry lifestyle. However, Faust is far too knowledgeable and wise to be seduced by petty enjoyments of song and drink. Mephisto realizes he will have to raise the stakes if he is to win the jackpot within Faust. Faust is not tempted by worldly attractions in his current old, feeble state, so Mephisto decides to get Faust a potion to make him thirty years...
Cited: "Literary Terms for Tragic Heroes." Teach the Teachers Collaborative.
15 Mar. 2005. 16 Mar. 2005. .
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