Faust's Weg zu sich selbst: A Jungian interpretation of Goethe's "Faust" with special emphasis on the individuation process

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Languages, Literatures, and Linguistics


Gerlinde Sanford


Goethe, Germany

Subject Categories

German Literature


This study is an examination of the psycho-religious content in Goethe's Faust from the perspective of Jungian archetypal psychology. The central theme of my study is the individuation process--the central concept in Jungian psychology. Jung views the development towards a state of individuation as a development towards the fulfillment of potential wholeness that exists on an unconscious level and is centered in the Self. The actualized personality is centered in the ego, while the personality potential, characterized by wholeness, "has an a priori unconscious existence" (CW 6:447), and needs to be redeemed by consciousness.

Chapter One outlines the scope of the study. Chapter Two surveys the history of Faust criticism, emphasizing the important religious and psychological studies. Chapter Three is an exposition of major concepts of Jungian archetypal psychology; i.e., collective unconscious, archetypes, persona, shadow, individuation process, ego, Self, and transcendent function. Chapter Four examines Jung's views on the expansion of consciousness, the close interrelation between consciousness and conscience, and the reasons why Faust repudiates conscience and concern. Chapter Five deals with the problems of good and evil and coming to terms with the shadow side. The discussion of the problem of good and evil covers the dividedness of the self, the tension of opposites and their reconciliation, Jung's view on the unresolved duality in the Christian religion, and Goethe's concepts of the Divine. Mephistopheles and "Walpurgis Night" are discussed in light of Jung's writings on the shadow problem. In Chapter Six, Faust's descent into the realm of the Mothers is interpreted as a descent into the collective unconscious. Furthermore, the discussion of the "Classical Walpurgis Night" focuses on Faust's and Homunculus' quests for wholeness. Chapter Seven is an exploration of Faust's encounter with Helena in relation to Jungian concepts of the anima. This chapter deals with benevolent and malefic manifestations of the anima; the anima as projection-maker and illusion-maker; integration of the anima into consciousness; artistic creativity, creative process, and the anima archetype as unconscious source behind artistic creativity. Chapter Eight deals with redemption and the question of achievement of wholeness after death.


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