The play Faust by Goethe is subtitled a tragedy. There’s nothing in the play like Romeo and Juliet. So why would it be subtitled a tragedy? Well I don’t know who or why they call it a tragedy, but I know why I would call it a tragedy. Some things in the play are very tragic: for example the mocking of religion (lines 290-295) the pregnancy of the girl, the loss of faith (line 388) the intelligent Faust losing hope (line 381) and though we didn’t read this, the fact that Faust goes to Heaven after all he died (the very end of the play)
Throughout this play religion is constantly mocked. The Devil and God are pretty buddy buddy. I mean they make bets, they have casual conversation (lines 275-302) They are just kind of friends. I am not the most religious person, but I know that the Devil and God are not friends. They do not talk, make bets, or hang out together. An obvious mocking right there. Also it seems that the powerful Devil is not powerful at all. He is repeatedly outsmarted by a mere mortal (line 2715) and has many limitation. If you grow up going to church and being taught religion you are under the impression that the Devil is so powerful, always tempting us mortals and finally buying our souls. God and the Devil are made fun of by showing how much little power they have. God over the Devil and the devil over mortals.
The girl, Grethen, getting pregnant is a tragedy for the simple fact that she and Faust are in love and would probably be in love for ever and ever had it not been for the Devil. Faust loves this girl and would love to be with her forever, but the Devil says that Faust can sleep with any girl without staying with her. So the Devil convinces Faust to tarnish this innocent girl. He sleeps with her getting her pregnant and thus sending her to jail (it is a crime back then for a woman to get pregnant without being married) Faust knows that the women he loves is in jail, possibly forever and he wants to help, but the Devil convinces him otherwise.
Faust’s loss of faith is another issue in this play that I feel was a tragedy.
Goethe’s Faust – A Tragedy
Faust: A Tragedy
Webster’s Dictionary says that a tragedy is a lamentable, dreadful, or fatal event or affair, or a disaster. This word and the story Faust, by Goethe, go together very well due to the amount of calamities within the tale. For this reason the subtitle “A Tragedy” is appropriate. It is befitting because of Faust’s alliance with the Devil, his actions along with the Devil and the fate of two of the main characters at the end of the story. Faust: A Tragedy is very deserving of the subtitle “A Tragedy”.
It was definitely a tragedy that Faust allied himself with Mephisto. Whenever a person strays from the positive path of the Lord to the side of the Devil it is definitely something very negative. For ages people have been using the phrase, “he sold his soul to the Devil”, with no positive connotation. Of course when this phrase was used it was just to say that that person was evil, not that they actually let Satan purchase their soul. That would be ridiculous, correct? Well that is exactly what happened in Faust’s case. Due to his own flaw of not being satisfied with life itself, he strayed from the Lord and traded his soul for a higher form of entertainment. “Thinking’s done with, for ever so long Learning and knowledge have sickened me….Bring on your miracles…” It is tragic when someone feels that they understand so much, or try to ignore so much to the point where they think that they should give their soul away with no fear of eternal damnation. Faust believes or tries to believe that there is no after life and that he can just trade away his life to the most evil being in existence with no repercussions. Falling from God and making the Devil his partner is something that deserves the title “a tragedy”.
While working with the Devil Faust did a number of evil things, some being quite tragic. It was already bad enough that Faust decided to play games with Mephistopheles, but it was worse when he decided he wanted to draw someone else into his sick deal. Faust, being overwhelmed with lust, felt that he needed to seduce and corrupt a young girl. “Get me that, do you hear, you must!” This is even worse when you consider that it was inevitable that he would succeed with the aid of Satan.