linger, thou art fair
In Christopher Marlowe’s play “The Tragedy of Dr. Faustus” (late sixteenth century) Faust was to pay for twenty-four years of restored youth by yielding his soul to the devil and led away into the flames of hell by a triumphant Mephisto in the last scene.
Unlike Marlowe, Goethe teaches that the unlived life can be caught up, restored, recovered, and experienced without doing basic damage to one’s inner life. Faust indeed causes a great deal of damage in his Mephistophelean journey, but he can remain safe spiritually if he refrains from attachment to any of his experiences.
… (they) go to a tavern where Faust, for the first time in his life, experiences what it is like to be an irresponsible youth; it is not fascinating, as he had imagined it might be. Mephistopheles replies that he promised Faust youth and vitality, not happiness. Part I of Faust is a chronicle of the hungering of a middle-aged man for the youth he missed; it ends in profound but conscious suffering.
Faust succeeds in seducing Gretchen; she is soon pregnant and in her childlike way utterly dependent on Faust. Mephistopheles takes Faust to the witches’ sabbath, where every form of sensual nonsense rages out of control. When Faust returns, he find that Gretchen, blinded by her misery and shame, has killed her newborn child and committed suicide.
Tat Tvam Asi
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