Do you think Faust ever really loves Gretchen, or do you think his intention all along is to seduce and abandon her? Or does he love the idea of Gretchen?
When to the moment I shall say,/ “Linger awhile! so fair thou art!”/ Then mayst thou fetter me straightway,/ Then to the abyss will I depart!
In Goethe's masterpiece, Faust's damning pact with Mephistopheles is what dooms his relationship with Gretchen. In his newly youthful guise (courtesy of the witch), he can now taste the sensual pleasures of the world to his heart's content; Gretchen just happens to be one of those pleasures. She is, by all accounts, a noble and faithful daughter to a widowed mother. Innocent of guile and bereft of her father and little sister at a young age, she is housekeeper of the home she shares with her mother.
Faust is immediately smitten when he sees Gretchen, or rather, he finds his lust inflamed by the sight of her. When Faust and Gretchen part in the garden, without any promise of the consummation of Faust's desires, Mephistopheles goads him to distraction by intentionally weaving sexual imagery into his sly monologue . He tells Faust that Gretchen will be...
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