Margaret and Gretchen: The Stereotypical, Traditional Women in Faust

A stereotype is defined as a person considered typifying or conforming to an unvarying pattern or manner, lacking any individuality. Faust, written by Goethe, contains several stereotypical roles. Margaret, the young maid in Faust, plays out one of these stereotypes. Margaret, or Gretchen, is the stereotype of the lowly, traditional woman, in every aspect of her life: physically, mentally, and spiritually.

In Faust, there are several physical aspects of Margarets life that are stereotypical of the traditional woman. Faust gave jewels to Margaret to impress her. After she found the jewelry, she instantly fell in love with Faust before even meeting him. After Margarets mother gave the jewelry to the priest, Faust asked Mephistopheles how Gretchen reacted. Mephistopheles said, She, of course, feels blue, she sits and doesnt know what to do, thinks day and night of every gem still more of him who furnished them. Margaret also does all of the household chores that the traditional woman would do: she cooks, sweeps, knits, and sews. She also looks physically attractive, with glowing cheeks and red lips.

Margaret portrays the traditional woman with her mentality. From the scene in the Garden, it is obvious that she doesnt think much of herself when she says, Is it the travelers courtesy to put up graciously with trash. She falls madly in love with Faust because he is the first person who has cared for her. She also plucked the petals from a daisy while saying, He loves me, he loves me not.

Margaret also typifies the traditional woman with her spiritual beliefs. She is a devoted Christian who tries to save Faust from being an evil person. She tries to find salvation from her sense of guilt at the church. She also prayed when to God when she saw Mephistopheles come to her prison cell.

Perhaps Goethe was thinking of the stereotype of the traditional woman when he came up with the role of Margaret/Gretchen. Maybe at the time that Faust was written, the actions of Margaret were less stereotypical, and more typical. Either way, Margaret was physically, mentally, and spiritually the old-fashioned, traditional woman.

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