Johannes Faust makes the mistake of thinking about the knowledge he has painstakingly accumulated during his years as a scholar. Honest thought demonstrates that his so-called knowledge is incomplete at best, outright lies and falsehood at worst. His life has been wasted. He offers himself up to whatever powers have the knowledge he thirsts for, and he is taken up by candidly malevolent, absolutely knowledgeable Mephistopheles. Mephistopheles will tell him anything he wants to know, requiring only that Faust listen, and that Faust accept the consequences of listening. Although Mephistopheles freely shows Faust the ultimate outcome of their bargain--the destruction of humanity--Faust agrees, saying that humanity could use knowledge to attain perfection instead of destruction. |
Faust's initial bounds into his new limitless world of knowledge are awkward, often comic. His advanced ideas are spurned by his intellectual peers, but the practical, trivial carriage leaf-spring is an instant hit. Yet soon Faust desires more than information: he sees lovely, untouchable Margarete Reinhardt. Margarete's merchant father eagerly brings the inventor into his home and workshop in order to profit from him, and Faust becomes a one-man Industrial Revolution. Through Faust's love of Margarete and Mephistopheles's hatred of humanity, a critical mass of technology is brought into the world--a consuming juggernaut--and, as the story gathers momentum, damnation seems inevitable.