16th Century Goethe’s Faust Essay

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16th Century Faust
Goethe’s Faust is a timeless play that took Goethe his entire lifetime to complete. It was first published in 1808, but the play itself does not specify the time period when it takes place. Goethe uses hints to guide the reader to discover this for him or herself. After reading the play, one can use Goethe’s subtle hints to conclude that Faust takes place during the 16th century and the Reformation.
The first hint that Goethe gives the reader comes after the prologue, in the first scene of the play. In this scene, Faust is alone in his study and is complaining about the limits of his knowledge. He begins to talk about how little the people in power know and how these people don’t have morals. Without these morals, these people don’t fear the devil or hell. “I well may know more than all those dullards, those doctors, teachers, officials, and priests, be unbothered by scruples or doubts, and fear neither hell nor its devils” (366-369). This questioning of authority, especially religious authority, is a defining characteristic of the reformation. Martin Luther went as far as to call the Pope the Antichrist in his Table Talk (Table Talk, 269). By saying the priests, and other authority figures, don’t have any morals and don’t fear the devil, Goethe is subtly trying to steer the reader to believe this play is set during the Reformation.
The scene at Auerbach’s Wine Cellar is another example of where Goethe shows that this play is set in the 16th century.…