Princeton’s Faust: An Adaptation of Wolfgang von Goethe’s Faust
By: Stephen Stolzenberg
Mephistopheles (the Devil)
God (The President of the University)
Faust (The hero)
Brander, Frosch, Siebel, and Altmayer – 21 Club Members
Heavenly Host (Senior and Alum Revelers)
Chorus Mysticus (Graduates)
Prologue in Heaven
Mephistopheles makes a bet with God that his influence will cause Faust to fail out of college.
Mephistopheles: Oh you, our Pres, fancy my presence once more,
To hear how institutional torment goes;
The dread and sorrow I cannot underscore,
That is… at least not when it’s written in prose.
I’m sorry I don’t offer language of praise,
For here many students would feign otherwise,
Their pathos disguises a kind of malaise,
So their condition I will now summarize.
Learn for the “real world,” It’s de facto fiction,
Prescribers are the students of affliction,
And the U’s little gods hold onto the great lie,
That happiness springs from their money supply.
A little better they would live,
Did Princeton demand a modicum less of them to give;
Work ethic its name and it alone,
Will suck their bones dry before they are grown.
It seems to me – of this please do not repeat –
That there is a solid market here to cheat,
For quicker minds and bodies exist
And the braggarts with A’s make many folks pissed;
If such sorts would only keep their grades hidden –
The rest of them wouldn’t feel so guilt ridden.
God: Don’t you have anything else to say?
Are you only here to cry foul-play?
Is there anything that you don’t detest?
Mephistopheles: Not really… No. Nope.
God: Do you know Faust?
Mephistopheles: The frat boy?
God: College Student!
Mephistopheles: Indeed! His remove is a peculiar case,
Intention has he not to run the rat race,
Inner turmoil has him transfixed,
Yet he’s fully aware of his disgust.
From heaven he claims the most beautiful chicks,
And from earth drinks of the beers most robust.
Nothing that’s near or packaged as six,
Can pacify a student so nonplussed.
God: Yes, though he is a bit discouraged,
He will soon pick up his slack and graduate;
Educators know, one reaches rock bottom
Before great improvement… or attending Yale.
Mephistopheles: What’ll you bet? In this gamble I’ll prevail,
If you but permit me the chance
To tempt him along the slacker’s path.
God: So long as he is still alive,
You may lead the man along your line,
But he will be shown yet to strive,
Princeton’s support structure is too fine.
In a high-vaulted, gothic room. Faust sits restlessly.
Faust: I’ve had it with this party scene,
Lackluster nights and drugged out weeks,
Alas I’ve no faith in our Dean,
Utterly weary from the incessant rage,
Here I stand, a pitiful fool!
Nowhere closer to ending school;
M.A., doctors, I’ll never earn,
And for two years I have returned,
Around, about, and through and in,
Frat mates and I drunk thick and thin
And yet the beer keg pours forth no knowledge.
It almost tears my heart asunder,
For lo, I have more smarts than all the pre-laws,
Religion, History, English and withdraws;
Am unfazed by scholastic scruples;
And fear not my profs or their finest pupils,
But I get no pleasure from my college days,
Try not to look out beyond the murky haze,
Try not to show that I think of my future,
Or a family to raise and to suture.
Sadly I‘ve no land or money,
Nor do I find this mess funny;
No Dicken’s character is so bereft,
For this reason I have taken to theft;
In hopes that my dishonest deeds
Will bring the good grades that I need;
Then no longer must I pay the fee,
To attend university,
And thus I’ll gain my freedom on earth,
To find a job of even less worth.
(Faust then cheats and is caught.)