The Role of Gretchen in Goethe´s Faust

805 WordsJul 16, 20184 Pages
In Goethe's Faust the two main characters are seen as male figures, one being indeterminable. Despite this books blatant masculine centric view the book could easily be used by modern Feminist as a feminist view of Goethe's society. As for the novel being used by the feminist movement, their purpose would be to show how women were/ are seen versus how they truly are. Generations of readers and critics of Faust I have seen Gretchen as a sign of selfless, idealized femininity, who will ultimately lead to the redemption of Faust. Even as will look through the commonly seen roles that Margaret inhabits, it only shows the use of the novel to bring awareness to the plight of the female character. When we look at the gender system, Gretchen’s…show more content…
Gretchen is no longer able to distinguish between her fantasies and reality, between past, present and future; she appears helpless and insane in terms of the realistic world, yet for Faust, Gretchen now represents a possible lethal threat, a past he desires to forget in order to proceed with his exploration of life and self. In killing her own child, she has forfeited her right to live in this world; as infanticide she is punished by society in kind for her crime. Her death, demanded within Faust’s patriarchal world, is an act of ultimate self- destruction, of killing her child and giving herself up as a sacrifice for her lover, who can thereby go free and, more important, continue experiencing life. Thus Gretchen’s active role in this Faustian world is to destroy herself and her child, where ironically childbearing is the ‘natural’ reason of existence of woman. Gretchen then atones for this crime and self-annihilation as a woman by accepting society’s punishment: death by execution, which, in the religious connotations of the drama signifies deliverance to the Father. Her death sentence and her final willing acceptance of her fate clear the way for Faust to continue his creative experimentation with life without being burdened by Gretchen’s ‘small world’. Faust has, as it were, incorporated woman’s story into his own. Gretchen’s destruction, the relationship between that of mother and

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