I’ll get right into it and start where I left off in my review of book 1 of Faust—where I said that the first part (book 1), was an ingeniously elaborated allegorical tale (in the form of a poem) that exemplified the beginnings of spiritual initiation/awareness on the ‘earth plane’ (i.e., the material word).
Therefore, consistent with this presupposition, it would be fair for me to say that book 2 of Faust was the product/result of said ‘initiation’ (that began in the flesh), in the supersensible world—none other; than the one that’s between ‘death and the new birth.’ In other words, the spiritual or ethereal plane of existence. Let’s put this thesis to the test, shall we?
Let’s start by examining the character of Margaret (book 1).
Margaret, simply put, is the allegorical/symbolic representation of the ‘eternal feminine’ (i.e., the passive/creative principle of the universe). She (Margaret) is the physical embodiment of Mother Nature as opposed to her spiritual equivalent/counterpart. However, notice how in book 2 ‘Margaret’ had suddenly now become identified with the mythological ‘Helena.’ Why?
Because on the flipside of things, Helena is the fully idealized/spiritual ‘embodiment’ of Mother Nature or as the aforementioned; eternal feminine, if you will. Thus, Margaret represented the physical form of Mother Nature, whereas, Helena, was the idealized or spiritual archetype of the former (i.e., Mother Nature). To trained eyes and ears, this has much in common with the myth of Persephone and other similar ‘allegories’ surrounding the spirit of the natural world (Mother Nature).
This then leads us to the meaning behind that ‘unrequited love’ that existed between Faust and his ‘sought-after’ maiden—Margaret in book 1.
The ‘unrequited love’ was unequivocally, the search for wisdom; for perfection—the search for the Holy Grail. That unrequited love found its redemption and culmination in Helena, in book 2.
So, what can we make of all this? What is the meaning behind this ‘unrequited love’ by way of Margaret in book 1, and which was then fulfilled/realized through Helena in book 2?
To me: It is the attainment of full spiritual consciousness by way of the Christ (i.e., what Rudolf Steiner termed; the Christ impulse). That capacity (free will) that is within the power of every human spirit/soul to achieve, seemingly enough.
BTW: It was the same search/quest of unrequited love (as symbolized by Dulcinea), that Don Quixote de la Mancha once made in Cervantes’ likewise masterful tale of spiritual initiation. Just to show/make a comparison with another timeless classic of Western literature.
Now, I don’t want to necessarily give anymore of the story away, other than to add a few noteworthy excerpts that should give the interested reader a foretaste of the literary majesty of book 2 of Goethe’s Faust. The second part of the tragedy (i.e., a genre of drama/literature focusing on stories of human suffering) is divided into five acts.
From: Act III, page 212
Love, in human wise to bless us,
In a noble Pair must be;
But divinely to possess us,
It must form a precious Three.
From: Act V, page 299
Discords I hear, a harsh, disgusting strumming,
Flung from above with the unwelcome Day;
’T is that emasculate and bungled humming
Which Pious Cant delights in, every way.
You know how we, atrociously contented,
Destruction for the human race have planned:
But the most infamous that we’ve invented
Is just the thing their prayers demand.
The fops, they come as hypocrites, to fool us!
Thus many have they snatched, before our eyes:
With our own weapons they would overrule us;
They’re also devils—in disguise.
To lose this case would be your lasting shame;
On to the grave, and fortify your claim!
Was the above a warning of things yet to come! In other words, the Ahrimanic forces that are even now, in the present time, ensnaring humanity in a deadly trap!
Chorus of Angels (scattering roses).
Roses, ye glowing ones,
Bloom and be seen!
Springtime declare him,
In purple and green!
Paradise bear him,
The sleeper serene!
From: Act V, page 308
(soaring in the higher atmosphere, bearing the immortal part of Faust).
The noble spirit now is free,
And saved from evil scheming:
Whoe’er aspires unweariedly
Is not beyond redeeming.
And if he feels the grace of Love
That from on High is given,
The blessed Hosts, that wait above,
Shall welcome him to Heaven!
The above selected passages were just more proof of the sublime truth hidden in Goethe’s masterwork.
In closing: I just wanted to say that the preceding interpretation that I have just given (re. the whole schema of Goethe’s Faust) is entirely my own, and I wouldn’t necessarily expect everyone to come to the same conclusion or ‘take away’ that I obviously did.
Goethe’s Faust (parts 1 and 2) was a culmination and achievement of a whole lifetime of toil and dedication. He was finally able to bring this ‘work of art’ (Faust),to a state and form that was reconciled with his own vision of what could very well be, the highest level of aesthetic principles in which a true poet strived to attain. I think it’s fair to say that Goethe succeeded in his goal and wish.
BTW: I believe I have read the definitive English translation (translated in the original metres). This is the Bayard Taylor edition which was first published by Houghton, Mifflin and Company, Boston. The Riverside Press, Cambridge. 1883.
Faust: A Tragedy V2, by Johanne Wolfgang Von Goethe.
This 2010 Kessinger Legacy Reprints edition (Kessinger Publishing, LLC) is pure excellence! The font size can be small, but it’s bold and clearly visible and there were no blotches/anomalies that disrupted the flow of the text. There are extensive accompanying notes (books 1 and 2) from Taylor himself. This review is for the hardcover edition.
Love and Peace,
Carlos E Romero