What are some aspects of Romanticism, relating to the Romantic period, in Goethe's Faust?

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Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Goethe was the originator of the Romantic period but once he witnessed what the premises of Romanticism did to society he renounced Romanticism. This is why sixty years passed before Goethe agreed to work on completing Faust by adding sections to Faust Part I and taking a whole new tack on Faust Part II. Therefore, the only characteristics of Romanticism to be found in the work are in what is called the Urfaust, meaning the original Faust, which mostly comprises the stories of Faust and Mephistopheles and Faust and Gretchen (also called Margaret).

The most striking characteristics of the Romantic period ideas prevalent in the Urfaust involve individuality in the hero, journey for illumination within, symbols and myths, emotionalism, and the lessened role of reason. Faust typifies a new literary type of hero who is different form previous good heroes who are flawed or make an error. He represents the Romantic emphasis on individuality and the journey for illumination within; a self-oriented journey. The crux of Faust is symbology, which motivated Romanticism's quest to understand the world and emblematic nature, for instance the symbols of the macrocosm and microcosm, as well as myths and legends. For instance, Goethe drew on the Medieval legend of Dr. Faust that had earlier inspired Marlowe's Dr. Faustus.

Finally, in Faust will be found the characteristic that Romanticism is most famous, or notorious, for, the primacy of emotion over reason. Emotion and intuition were believed by Romantics to be the primary tools of "imagination," defined as the governing power of human cognition, which governs reason, creates art, and understand the universe. Individuals were encouraged to cultivate emotion along with intuition in order to aid the journey to inner illumination, such as in evident in Gretchen's behavior and Faust's when in connection with Gretchen.

joanneburgess | Student

1. a continually striving individual who wants to test the limits of his nature and of God's.

2. a character who believes that one's personal feelings and values are  valid criteria for living.

3) One who believes in the importance of experience in understanding life.

4) The above are a few Romantic characteristics.