Faust (fowst), a perpetual scholar with an insatiable mind and a questing spirit. The middle-aged Faust, in spite of his enthusiasm for a newly discovered source of power in the sign of the macrocosm, finds his intellectual searches unsatisfactory and longs for a life of experiences in the world of humans. On the brink of despair and a projected suicide, he makes a wager with the Devil that if he ever lies on his bed of sloth-fulness or says of any moment in life, “Stay thou art so fair,” at that moment he will cease to be. He cannot be lured by the supernatural, the sensual, or the disembodied spiritual, but he does weaken in the presence of pure beauty and capitulates to humanitarian action. He displays himself as a sensual man in his deep love for Gretchen (Margarete), only to be goaded to murder by her brother, who sees not selfless love in their actions, but only sin. Faust aspires to the love of Helen of Troy, but he is disconsolate when she appears. As an old man, he returns to his early vision of being a man among men, working and preparing for a better world to be lived here on earth. His death is not capitulation, though he thinks at this point man can cry “stay,” and he has never taken his ease or been tempted by a life of sloth. His death is his victory, and his everlasting life is to be lived resourcefully among the creators.
Mephistopheles (mehf-ih-STOF-eh-leez), the Devil incarnate and Lucifer in disguise of dog and man. Portrayed here as a sophisticate,...
(The entire section is 646 words.)