Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)

Faust’s study

Faust’s study. Vaulted room with stained glass windows that shows the limitations of the world of the historical magician Faust, who lived in the sixteenth century. The clutter of scientific instruments shows Faust’s past interest in science as a method of unlocking nature’s secrets, and rows of dusty books point to the sterility of medieval learning. Faust looks for ways to escape by conjuring spirits and finally by signing a pact with the devil in this room.

*Auerbach’s tavern

*Auerbach’s tavern. Tavern in Leipzig, Germany, that was frequented by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe as a student. A scene set here features loud communal singing, comic drunkenness, and a barroom brawl. Mephisto is seen riding a wine keg out the door, an allusion to a wall decoration at the historical Auerbach’s.

Gretchen’s room

Gretchen’s room. Simply furnished room containing a canapé bed, a leather armchair, a clothes cabinet, a mirror, and a spinning wheel. In his clandestine visit Faust contemplates Gretchen’s innocence and the domesticity reflected in the cleanliness and order of her room. The cabinet, where Gretchen finds the jewel box, and the mirror, where she admires herself, reflect her self-awareness as a woman. Her rhythmical spinning in a later scene emphasizes the driving force of her longing for Faust.

*Harz Mountains

*Harz Mountains. Steep, forested, rocky terrain in Germany that is the setting in which Halloween-like ghosts cavort. While vapors hiss and owls screech, witches dance and make love in an amusement park atmosphere lit by a reddish moon and little fires. Set on Broken, the tallest mountain in the Harz, Walpurgis Night is the witches’ Sabbath of medieval German folklore. Although the devil presides here, Walpurgis is a positive...

(The entire section is 768 words.)