Faust Questions and Answers
by Johann Goethe

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What perspective does Goethe provide us on the modern capitalist through his characterization of Faust in Faust Part I and Part II?

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To answer this, it is necessary to look at Faust's character through the lens of Marxist criticism since that is the theory that addresses issues of capitalism. It must be noted that while Karl Marx was first published in 1842 in The Rhenish Gazette, Goethe reluctantly finished Faust in 1831, more than ten years before Marx wrote anything. Thus it cannot be supposed that Goethe was asserting any Marxist ideology since Marx had not yet expressed such ideology. This said, it is possible to discuss the characterization of Faust in traditional Marxist critical terms.

Exploitation is a prime factor in Marxist critical theory. It is usual of Marxist criticism to analyze Faust in Part I as the capitalist exploiter and Gretchen (Margaret) as the exploited worker. Faust is said to have ambitions for a particular service and Gretchen is said to represent the supplier of that service. This is putting love in very utilitarian terms yet this is how Marxist theory characterizes Faust. This characterization is...

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