What is the conflict in Faust and why is the main character dissatisfied?

Quick answer:

The conflict of Faust is between the title character and himself. Despite having achieved a great deal in his life, Faust remains unsatisfied. He attempts to deal with this inner conflict by agreeing to serve the Devil in hell if Mephistopheles can give him a moment of experience in which he will want to stay forever. Faust is unhappy and dissatisfied with this life because he cannot gain knowledge of absolute truth and the true meaning of existence.

Expert Answers

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On the face of it, Faust has an awful lot going for him. A scholar of high renown and a man of considerable charm and intelligence, many people would give their eye teeth to be in his shoes. But some people are just not satisfied, no matter how much they have in life, and Faust is one of them. Although he knows much about the world and the people who live in it, he’s always hungry for more knowledge, and this frustrates him deeply. It’s not enough for Faust to know what anyone else can know; he needs to know absolute truth, the ultimate meaning of the universe. Nothing less will do.

Such knowledge is, of course, unavailable to mere mortals, which is why Faust enters into a diabolical pact with Mephistopheles whereby he will agree to serve the Devil in hell if Mephistopheles can give him a single moment of experience on Earth in which he would wish to stay forever.

Faust hopes that by entering into this Devil’s bargain, he will be able to unlock the secrets of the universe with the key of absolute truth. He’s had enough of learning partial truths; he wants absolute truth, the kind that only God or the Devil can provide. And in order to gain absolute truth, he needs to resolve the conflict within himself; to step beyond the boundaries of human limitation and experience the world from the standpoint of eternity.

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