Introduction to Goethe and Romanticism Essay

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, one of the most important German writers, was born in 1749 and died in 1832. the author passed over the German literary romanticism and was a significant figure of the Germanic Classicism. One of his major works is Faust, on of the most interesting stories that the modern literature ever saw; this story is divided in two parts. The first part shows Dr. Faust as a character who laments his condition, his boring life, because even after studying most fields of sience, such as medicine, theology and philosophy he though he could not find satisfaction of life. Faust makes a pact with the devil Mephistopholes that promises to give Faust the pleasure he seeks, but he will have to pay with his soul. Faust does not believe that Mephistopheles can do anything for him (or him), then he makes a deal. From this point on, the narrative describes Faust and Mephistopheles actions in pursuit of pleasure.

Fausto mets a young maiden, Gretchen, and they fall in love. However, their relationship brought many bad things, her mother and brother died, and she killed her baby; they ended up separated, and Gretchen was taken to the prision. Faust and Mephistopheles then go to the prison where Gretchen is being to be executed, and Faust tries to save her, but he can’t. The first part ends at this part, when Gretchen dies but God redeemes her. During the second part, Faust keeps his pursuit of pleasure. In his death, Faust is also redeemed.

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This is a very important story, and it can be identified as part of the Romantic movement. The Romanticism was a movement of manifested in the arts and literature of the late eighteenth century until the late nineteenth century. Born in Germany, England and Italy, but is gaining strength in France and from there spread through Europe and the Americas. This movement was a reaction against aristocracies and institutions such as schools, colleges, churches, opposing the rationalism and the rigor of the neoclassicism.

It is characterized by defending the freedom of creation and focus on emotion. The works valued individualism, suffering love, Christian religiosity, nature, national issues and the past. This movement was inspired by the ideals of freedom of the French Revolution, by the the thesis of the philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778) that man is born good but society corrupts. Against this exclusive reliance on reason, the Romantics proposed the exaltation of the passions and important feelings. Romanticism also resumed he idea of nature as a vital force that resists the rationalization of the human world. It was the revival of instinct and emotion against the supremacy of reason, the affirmation of feelings against the coldness of rationality, after recognition that the human world became more and more unjust and increasingly dissatisfied individual, not finding in the society satisfaction for their deepest yearnings. Thus, emphasizing intuition and fantasy, romanticism will be characterized by an appreciation of the sensitivity and subjectivity.

One response to this dissatisfaction with the social world is through the exaltation of nature, which becomes idealized, to be viewed with a certain mysticism. Nature returns to man the romantic feeling of fullness, of belonging to a totality that is no longer recognized in this fragmented rationalistic social world As stated before, the Romanticism focused on the individual, on the natural world, on the imagination, intuition and emotion.

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