A Fistful of Faust

A Fistful of Faust

Hi, everyone! Happy Labor Day!

For this week’s #MetaphorMonday, I wanted to feature one of my absolute favorite metaphors that has inspired my work and my life. The metaphor I speak of can be found within the powerful pages of Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe’s Faust.

Here’s the stanza, as featured in the scene “Before the Gate”:


You’re conscious only of a single drive;

oh, do not seek to know the other passion!

Two souls, alas, dwell in my breast,

each seeks to rule without the other.

The one with robust love’s desires

clings to the world with all its might,

the other fiercely rises from the dust

to reach sublime ancestral regions.

Oh, should there be spirits roaming through the air

which rule between the earth and heaven,

let them leave their golden haze and come to me,

let them escort me to a new and bright-hued life!

As yes, if I could have a magic cloak

to whisk me off to foreign lands

I should not trade it for the richest robes,

nor for the mantle of a king.

When I think of the image “two souls, alas, dwell in my breast,” many thoughts come to mind. I believe it to be an image that encapsulates all of our everyday lives, whether we realize it or not. It seems that to be able to have one aspect of life be successful, another has to be sacrificed. For example, with professionals we often see them dividing their time between work and family/a personal life. Or, think of the metaphysical, where a person can be so inclined to the spiritual yet having to be present in reality and be realistic with certain duties that are expected as a citizen of the world. There’s an apparent division of self consistently at play within many a human life.

Although, I’ve also worked with the idea of a third option in which both exist and the conflict disappears (which I will omit at the moment due to being a significant SPOILER ALERT in one of my works). The point is, it is of my personal belief that there can two souls living happily inside of us. It is a personal scale I am currently putting in balance.

That being said, the battle between two selves comes in many forms and is certainly a universal theme… 

Can you think of any other metaphors that make that same reference?

What are your thoughts of the dynamic of having two souls within one body? Does it actually affect everyone? If so, is it a forever occurrence? Or can we achieve balance?

Take it further: Share a Story. 

Write about a time where you found yourself afflicted with two different desires or selves living within you. What was that like? What was going on in your physical environment as well as in your mind? What was the result? Was there a sacrifice made? Was balance achieved instead? Or did they evolve and change into something else entirely? Let’s hear your story!

Thanks for participating, you guys!


Von Goethe, Johann Wolfgang. “Before the Gate.” Faust: First Part. Trans. Peter Salm. N.p.: Bantam Classic, 1985. 87 (1110-1125). Print.

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