Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s Faust commences in Heaven with the angels Raphael, Gabriel, and Michael praising the Lord as creator and wise ruler of Heaven and earth. The devil Mephistopheles mocks human beings as failed creations because reason makes them worse than brutes. The Lord tells Mephistopheles that he will illuminate his servant Faust. Mephistopheles wagers with the Lord that he can corrupt Faust instead. The Lord assents because a good man cannot be misled, even by the temptations of a crafty devil. Moreover, the Lord knows, Mephistopheles will actually make Faust a better man; human beings need an impetus to overcome their innate sloth and to prod them into action.


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