Faust Scene-by-Scene Guide
Faust by Goethe
Because of the difficulties of reading a play in verse, especially one interested in ideas as well as characters a conflict, you may want to use this guide to help you look for details and ideas in Faust. You may prefer to use it only in reviewing the play.
"Prologue in Heaven," Mephistopheles is unimpressed with the celebration of the universe the archangels are engaged in. The "small god" of line 39 refers to the human being, who lives in misery and is more "brutish than... any brute." The Lord and Mephistopheles make a bet about Faust, with the Devil thinking he can lead Faust astray and the Lord thinking Faust will "remember the right road throughout the quest" (11.86 & 87). For the Lord the divine spark in humans leads them back to a concern for what is right.
"The Neighbor's House, a bit of courtship between Martha and Mephisto as the devil pretends he has proof of the death of Martha's wayward husband. They set up a meeting that will include Margaret and Faust. Mephisto does his job as go-between for Faust.
"Street," Faust's honesty, and Mephisto's belief that the scholar's encounter with Margaret will inevitably involve deception.
"Garden," story of Margaret's life, with her good-natured simplicity clear in the details -- especially in her care of her sister:
"A Garden Bower," the lovers part.
"Wood and Cave," Faust's opening speech alone is one of the play's celebrations of the power of nature. His enthusiasm contrasts with Mephisto's attitude. We also see Faust in distress because he has robbed Margaret of her peace of mind.
"Gretchen's Room," her song proclaiming "My peace is gone."
"Martha's Garden," the best developed scene between Faust and Gretchen. Note their differences on religion, her attitude toward Mephistopheles, and the plans to meet in her room:
"At the Well," Gretchen's response to now being one of the "bad girls" of the town.
"City Wall," Gretchen's despair before the religious image of Mater Dolorosa.
"Night," sword fight between Valentine, Gretchen's disgraced brother, and Faust. Note especially the dying speech he has for his sister. Does Gretchen deserve such a tirade?
"Cathedral," Gretchen is tortured by the Evil Spirit in church.
"Walpurgis Night," a night of merriment for those in the company of the devil. All the short speeches help Goethe satirize important people in his day. Faust is supposed to enjoy the entertainment, but he sees a "pale, beautiful child, alone" who reminds him of Gretchen. He's aware of the "narrow ruby band" around her neck. What point is Goethe making about Faust here? In what way does this show the Lord is right, not Mephistopheles, in His evaluation of human beings?
"Walpurgis' Night's Dream," continued satires of people in Goethe's day with appearances by literary characters as well.
"Dismal Day," Faust is outraged with Mephisto since Gretchen is in prison for killing her infant child (she's to be executed). Mephisto can help get-a-way 'if Faust can convince Gretchen to leave:
"Night, open Field," the witches are out as the two ride toward Gretchen in jail.
"Dungeon," what do you think is happening in this last scene of the play? Is Margaret insane? Is she saved as Faust and Mephistopheles flee?
Last Updated: January 5, 2007