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How does the priest's night in jail change his outlook on human nature? In what ways is the priest's confrontation with the mongrel dog central to Greene's themes in the novel? What is the importance of the priest's meeting with the Indian woman? How is the priest's charity evidenced after he decides to return to Calver?

How does the priest's drinking influence his dealings with Calver?


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How does Greene indicate the lieutenant's charity before the priest's death? Describe the significance of the arrival of the new priest at the end of the book. Previous Motifs in The Power and the Glory. After Lisbeth leaves, Gretchen muses on the lack of understanding she once had shown for girls in this predicament. Now that she is pregnant also, though no one else knows as yet, she has learned compassion.

Gretchen does not understand what drove her to sin, but insists to herself that her motives were pure. Summary At a shrine of the Mater Dolorosa located in a niche in the city wall, Gretchen makes an offering of flowers and seeks consolation for her sorrows. She pleads for divine mercy, crying: Save me from shame and death in one! Ah, bow down, Thou of the woeful crown, Thy gracious face on me undone.

Analysis Several months have gone by and Faust has deserted Gretchen. The vague premonitions of impending downfall that she felt in the last scene have now become more acute. Now he has heard rumors about her and sadly realizes that her innocence has been lost. He is waiting at her doorway with hopes of catching her lover and getting revenge.

Suddenly he sees two figures, Faust and Mephistopheles, advancing up the dark street.

The Reckoning Summary & Study Guide

Valentine steps back into the shadows, hoping that this will be his chance. Faust seems to have no feelings left for the poor girl and is interested only in satisfying his carnal appetites again. He asks Mephistopheles to get more jewels because he does not want to call on Gretchen empty handed. The two men draw their swords. Mephistopheles assists Faust in the fight and Valentine is mortally wounded.

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The noise wakes the neighbors and a crowd gathers, but Faust and Mephistopheles manage to escape. Gretchen comes out and discovers to her horror that the dying man is her brother. She tries to comfort him, but with his last words Valentine insults his agonized sister and predicts a sordid future for her. Analysis Valentine serves as a representative of conventional morality. But now Faust is at his lowest ebb — he has no sympathy for the girl whom he seduced and deserted, he speaks of Gretchen as if she were a common prostitute, despite the love he once claimed to feel for her and her continued love for him, and he participates in a senseless and cowardly murder.

Summary The heartbroken Gretchen attends a service at the cathedral to find forgiveness for her sins and solace for her almost unbearable suffering. The church is crowded, but she is alone, except for an Evil Spirit who lurks nearby and reproaches her. Whispering in her ear, the Spirit enumerates her transgressions — she is pregnant, Valentine is dead because of her, and her mother is dead also, killed by the sleeping potion which Gretchen gave her.

At last Gretchen reaches the limit of her endurance and faints. Analysis Gretchen is unable to benefit from the comforting influence of religion because she is conscious of her guilt and fears damnation. The Church does not understand God or human nature; thus it cannot help Gretchen or forgive her sins. Gretchen is indeed guilty in a legalistic sense, but her remorse is genuine and there were extenuating circumstances behind each of her crimes, even though this does not absolve her of personal responsibility.

The Spirit that torments Gretchen takes none of this into consideration. Now it is Walpurgis Night April 30th , the time of the annual gathering of witches and spirits at the top of the Brocken in the Harz Mountains located in central Germany to celebrate a satanic orgy.

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The mountain top is covered with swarms of demons dancing and singing. The tension rises to a mad crescendo of evil as Mephisto guides Faust through his fiendish assembly, introducing him to all the infernal spirits of medieval legend, and inducing him to participate in their rites. The shock of this causes him to remember Gretchen.

He has a vision of her in chains, becomes distressed, and starts to wander away. Mephistopheles immediately springs into action. He gives a fanciful interpretation of the vision and tries to distract Faust by leading him to a theatre on the mountainside. The witches and demons that Faust encounters are incarnations of all the many facets of evil. He remembers Gretchen and the love for her which was his first real participation in life.

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Summary The play which Faust and Mephistopheles attend has no connection with the rest of the tragedy. The poems of the play are recited by a succession of mythological figures, like Oberon, Titania, and Ariel, and various strange individuals whose names have symbolic or satirical meanings. Analysis This poem was originally written by Goethe as a separate piece. He inserted it here because it served as well as anything else for an interlude and also expressed his contempt for artistic convention.

To an extent the poem also illustrates the great influence which the works of Shakespeare had on Goethe. Summary Faust knows now that Gretchen is in prison and asks Mephistopheles to help free her. The devil refuses. He says there is no need to be concerned since she is not the first girl to be punished for her sins. Faust becomes infuriated and harangues Mephisto: Dog! Loathsome monster! Not the first, you say.

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It pierces me to my marrow and core, the torment of this one girl — and you grin calmly at the fate of thousands! Mephistopheles sneers that humans are always like this. They join forces with the devil but have not the courage or will power to endure the consequences of their decision. Why do you enter our company, if you can t follow it through? Did we force ourselves on you — or you on us? Save her! Who was it who plunged her into ruin? I or you?


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  • Faust continues to insist that Mephistopheles rescue Gretchen. In his despair he shouts wild threats at the devil. But Faust is no longer concerned with his own welfare and persists. Finally Mephistopheles relents. He agrees to do all he can, but adds that he does not have unlimited power in matters of this sort. En Breve Faust and Mephistopheles, mounted on magic black horses, gallop wildly past the gallows outside the town on their way to rescue Gretchen.

    The night is dark and threatening.

    Spirits prowl through the air. When he enters, Faust finds that she has been driven insane by her imprisonment and sense of guilt. Gretchen does not remember him and huddles fearfully in the corner of the cell, thinking he is the hangman come to execute her for having drowned her baby. Gretchen pleads with Faust to spare her life and begs permission to hold her infant once more.

    Faust is grief-stricken by this discovery.

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    He cries out in despair. Suddenly Gretchen regains her senses and recognizes him. She joyously leaps up and her chains fall off. Faust and Gretchen embrace. Now that her lover has returned, Gretchen is no longer afraid and feels confident that everything will be well. Faust tries to hurry Gretchen out of the cell before morning light, but she rejects his offer of escape. She knows she cannot evade punishment for her crimes and foresees no peace except that of the grave.

    Faust unsuccessfully tries to change her mind. As dawn breaks Mephistopheles enters the cell and warns Faust to come along. Gretchen recognizes the devil and fears he has come for her. She prays for divine mercy: Judgment of God! I have given myself to Thee! O Father, save me! I am thine! She has a simple and clear-cut conception of right and wrong which is incomprehensible to the still inwardly doubting Faust. One is redeemed in the end if his conscience learns to know the difference between good and evil, rejects sinfulness, and repents.

    Her final cries are an effort to make him abandon the devil and throw himself into the merciful arms of the Lord. This is the end of the first part of the tragedy, a portion of a larger work but at the same time complete in itself. In addition, he has realized that the total abnegation of reason is repugnant to human nature.