English 401
The Faust Theme

 

English 401
The Faust Theme

Study Guide

Introduction

Faust, a figure willing to risk damnation to gain superhuman power, has historically intrigued artists, theologians, scholars, and lay people, and he continues to fascinate us today. This course explores the Faust figure in three diverse works of early-modern and modern literature. In some ways these literary characters represent the specific times and places of their authors, but they also display universal human qualities, such as curiosity, ambition, pride, and fear.

As you will discover, Faust, like humanity, has always been a seeker. Sometimes he searches for personal freedom, for self-fulfillment, for power, or for pleasure. Because of Faust's longevity in written literature and his persistence in folk culture, he is a fitting metaphor for the study of the individual's search for meaning even today.