Faust Questions and Answers
by Johann Goethe

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Provide a character analysis of Margaret, who is also called Gretchen, in Goethe's Faust Parts I and II.

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Gretchen is an idealized symbol of womanhood, and her purity and innocence represent a contrast to the diabolical Faust. She is a naive young lady whose sheltered upbringing makes her the ideal object for Faust's cruel seduction. Consequently, her soul becomes corrupted due to her involvement with Faust, and she commits a series of crimes, including the murder of her illegitimate child.

Unlike Faust, however, Gretchen did not choose to make a pact with the devil; she is the innocent pawn in a cosmic game of which she is singularly unaware. Having been shamelessly used and abused by Faust, she ends up languishing in a dark, dank dungeon for having murdered her child. Faust plans her escape, but Gretchen wants no part of it. Despite her diabolical actions, vestiges of her former purity still remain. She knows that she did something wrong; she also knows that she must atone for her sins, both now and in the hereafter. The fundamental decency and purity of Gretchen's character is confirmed...

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