Doctor Johannes Faust - Karl Simrock


106 pages


Doctor Johannes Faust

Karl Simrock | 1846 | Bonn, Germany
Genre (as defined by the author)
Ein Puppenspiel
Number of acts

Karl Simrock’s Doctor Johannes Faust is the first published version of a Faust play written for puppets (save for the reproduction of Johann Georg Greßelbrecht’s manuscript, printed in 1832 and limited to a few copies). Simrock’s rewriting combines several sources, using Greßelbrecht’s name but also Schütz’ and Dreher’s – two of his rivals. It appears to be a reconstitution of the puppet plays which may have inspired Goethe’s Faust. Simrock reworks the play by making the plot more coherent, handling the comic scenes on a more humoristic – rather than farcical – tone, and most of all by definitely replacing Hanswurst with the figure of Casperle.

Plot summary

A scholar makes a gruesome pact with the Devil

Doctor Faust is disillusioned with academic disciplines. He learns black magic and makes a deal with the devil Mephistopheles, promising him his soul if the latter accepts to serve him for twenty-four years. Faust’s new domestic servant, Casperle, also learns to summon demons, and engages the services of the devil Auerhahn. However, he refuses to sell his soul to him. During the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Parma, Faust makes the Ancient Testament appear before them and attempts to seduce the duchess. But he is pursued by her husband, the Inquisition and the outraged people, because Casperle has used his links with the devil to carry out miracles. Faust flees to Constantinople and Auerhahn brings Casperle to Mainz. The final act relates Faust’s damnation. He does penance, but he is doomed when Mephistopheles promises him the most beautiful woman in the world – Helen of Troy. Faust is carried off by demons, while Casperle, now a night watchman, takes his revenge on his wife at the end of the play, for the domestic violence she inflicted on him.

Related works
Old Testament
Doctor Faust, Johann Georg GeisselbrechtAfter 1790
Composition date

Publications and translations


Karl Simrock: Doctor Johannes Faust. Frankfurt am Main, H.L. Brönner, 1846

Modern edition

Karl Simrock: Doctor Johannes Faust. Berlin, Hofenberg, 2017