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Goethe and His Influence

A very brief introduction to Goethe, along with selected quotes from Faust.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe was born on August 28, 1749 in Frankfurt-on-Main in present day Germany. Throughout his life, Goethe produced literature of many different kinds including novels, poetry, plays and he even engaged in scientific experiments, writing a book about plants.
One of Goethe?s most famous poems is called ?Perseverance.? This poem shows excellent use of rime and it makes the point that we only gain worthwhile things if we work hard to get them.


?We must not hope to be mowers
And to gather the ripe gold ears
Unless we have first been sowers
And watered the furrows with tears

It is not just as we take it
This mystical world of ours
Life?s field will yield as we make it
A harvest of thorns or flowers.?[/q]

Perseverance is certainly what Goethe himself showed when writing his most famous work, a two-part play called {Faust}. Goethe spent almost a total of sixty years completing both parts of {Faust}. {Faust }is the story of a college professor in the 18th century that makes a deal with the devil, selling his soul in exchange for an interesting life. When Faust finds peace his life is over and his soul id forfeit. Faust sells his soul in the following passage (The devil goes by the name of Mephistopheles in this play).

[q]Faust: ?If ever I lay me on a bed of sloth in peace,
that instant let for me existence cease!
If ever with lying flattery you can rule me
So that contented with myself I stay,
If with enjoyment you can fool me.
Be that for me the final day!?

Mephistopheles: ?Done!?[/q]

{Faust }is a classic story about humanity?s struggle to find meaning in life as well as its struggle against temptation to do wrong. At the end of the play, God saves Faust, not because Faust deserves it (for he does not). He saves him because He is merciful.

Goethe finished {Faust }in 1832, the year of his death. Since his death, {Faust} has been recognized as one of the great plays of all time. Its high literary value and meaningful themes have continued to inspire readers to the present day. At the end of the nineteenth century, Oscar Wilde would write a novel based on the story of Faust. This book was called The Picture of Dorian Gray (1891). In the book, Dorian Gray sells his soul to a painting of himself. This painting shows the effects of his sinful life, while he remains young and healthy. The picture in the painting gets old, has scars and looks sick, while Dorian?s appearance never changes. So, while Dorian used drugs and was involved in all manner of heinous activities, the painting changed and was damaged, however he remained the same without any harm to his body. Dorian began to believe he could do anything without any consequences, however he was mistaken. When Dorian tries to destroy the picture (as it reminded him of his great guilt) he dies in the process. Unlike Faust, Dorian did not ?struggle on?. He gave in totally to evil and it killed him in the end. Oscar Wilde would be just one of the many writers influenced by Goethe and his great work.

[b]Quotations from Faust[/b]

a) ?One?s own good wife and hearth, we?re told
are worth as much as pearls and gold.?

b) ?As one sins, one always suffers.?

c) ?They know not where their steps may led them;
They have not looked ahead at all.?

d) ?Troy?s judgment day, held fast in noble rhyme.
A horror famous to the end of time.

e) The reason Faust was saved

?Whoe?er aspiring, struggles on. For him there is salvation.?

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