The medieval legend of Faust is a morality tale of sin and damnation. In contrast, Goethe’s Faust is a drama of human striving for the divine and salvation through grace. God is a dynamic creator and sustainer of the universe. He has created humankind in his image. Thus, Faust and all human beings should actively engage the world in which they live. Above all else, God is benevolent. He embraces all his creation and creatures, including the devils. Every creature has its divine purpose within this unorthodox framework of Providence and good versus evil. God’s ultimate plan is to release humankind from earthly despair and suffering. His means are beyond human reason and comprehension. Human beings see only the bitter contest between good and evil, in which evil often prevails. Only at death does a soul see the whole of Providence and God’s grace. On earth, Faust leads Margarete to her downfall. In Heaven, Gretchen prays to the Virgin for Faust’s soul.
In Faust, Christian love redeems the sins of the world no matter how egregious. As a sign of amazing grace, the person most violated by the sinner, Gretchen, is the one to plead for redemption of the sinner. Gretchen embodies the magnanimity of Christian mercy and forgiveness. Thus, the heavens in the final scene of Faust are full of souls ascending toward God. The Mystical Choir concludes the drama with the Christian distinction between imperfect human life and perfect spiritual life in God:
Everything transitoryIs only a resemblance;The unobtainableBecomes a reality here;The indescribableIs here achieved;The Eternal FeminineLifts us up.
In this life, human beings cannot comprehend God and his perfect creation, yet the force of Love will ultimately redeem humankind.