A tragic play. It was published in two parts: Faust: der Tragödie erster Teil (translated as: Faust: The Tragedy Part One) and Faust: der Tragödie zweiter Teil (Faust: The Tragedy Part Two). The play is a closet drama, meaning that it is meant to be read rather than performed. It is Goethe's most famous work and considered by many to be one of the greatest works of German literature.
About a good human, Faust, who makes a pact with the devil, Mephistopheles: the devil will do everything that Faust wants while he is here on earth, and in exchange Faust will serve the devil in Hell. Faust's arrangement is that if during the time while Mephistopheles is serving Faust, Faust is so pleased with anything the devil gives him that he wants to stay in that moment forever, he will die in that instant. Faust meets Margaret (also known as Gretchen). He is attracted to her and with jewelry and help from a neighbor, Marthe, the devil draws Gretchen into Faust's arms. Faust seduces Gretchen and they sleep together. Gretchen's mother dies from a sleeping potion, administered by Gretchen to obtain privacy so that Faust could visit her. Gretchen discovers she is pregnant. Gretchen's brother condemns Faust, challenges him and falls dead at the hands of Faust and the devil. Gretchen drowns her illegitimate child and is convicted of the murder. Faust tries to save Gretchen from death by attempting to free her from prison. Finding that they cannot free her, Faust and the devil flee the dungeon, while voices from Heaven announce that Gretchen shall be saved. In part two Faust wakes in a field of fairies to initiate a new cycle of adventures and purpose. The piece consists of five acts (relatively isolated episodes) each representing a different theme. Ultimately, Faust goes to heaven, for he loses only half of the bet. Angels, who arrive as messengers of divine mercy, declare at the end of Act V: "He who strives on and lives to strive/ Can earn redemption still" (V, 11936-7).