How is Goethe's Faust a synthesis between realism and romanticism?

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literaturenerd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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Johann Goethe's Faust is Romantic text. Given that the text illustrates the influence of Nature (capitalized to illustrate power through personification), one cannot deny the Romantic characteristics of the text. The prologue, as with many texts, sets the mood and the tone for the work as a whole. The prologue illustrates the power of the ocean ("mighty torrents," "roaring," and "ever-speeding"). The image's reality for the reader depends upon the realistic image the author "paints." At one point, Faust even admits his need of nature ("The wilted breast craves you [nature] in thirst- / You well, you still-and I languish in vain?" (Goethe 688). This image illustrates the backbone of Romanticism.

As for Realism, the text illustrates the idea of the human condition (what it means to be human). In this, Faust comes to understand that mankind has various weaknesses. Mephistopheles illustrates this conviction when he says,
"I only see how men will plague themselves." He goes on to state that the action of mankind will only make them more like beasts. Historically, mankind has made decisions which have proved them to be animalistic and lacking of reason.

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