The legend of Faust is older than Goethe’s version, dating back to the early years of Christianity. The English poet Christopher Marlowe wrote his own version of the play several centuries before Goethe’s “Faust” appeared. Later, Wagner would use Goethe’s lengthy yet brilliantly written poetic production as the text for an opera.
One idea animates Goethe’s “Faust. ” All human souls are called to exist and struggle within a constant state of “becoming,” a lifelong striving towards greater and greater realms of knowledge, action and feeling; and those who stay true to this call, even when they stumble into excesses and error will not go unrewarded by God. In fact, it is by right the Devil’s place to blind man, to the end that man might come unto God:
Man all too easily grows lax and mellow,
He soon elects repose at any price,
And so I like to pair him with a fellow
To play the Deuce, to stir, and to entice.