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“How Much Land Does a Man Need?” by Leo Tolstoy, and “Faust,” by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

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“Compare and Contrast”The protagonists, Poham in “How Much Land Does a Man Need?” by Leo Tolstoy, and Faust in “Faust,” part 1 written by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, are similar and different in many ways. The characters of the devils as drawn by Goethe and Tolstoy also have many things in common. Both of the stories are about greed and what people are willing to do to get what they want.

“How Much Land Does a Man Need” is a well-crafted adaptation of a short story by 19th century Russian novelist Leo Tolstoy. The story follows the life of a poor, hard-working sharecropper, Poham, who dreams of becoming a successful farmer of his own land. His greed of becoming wealthy and owning land leads to his death. “Faust” is a well written short story by an eighteenth century German novelist, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. The story is about god versus the devil or good versus evil and in the story god and the devil agreed to a wager: with God’s permission, Mephistopheles would attempt to lure the soul of a certain scholar-alchemist named Faust down with him to hell; God maintained that Faust would and could be saved, despite his proud reliance on reason and sorcery rather than faith. Faust who was greedy for knowledge and experience eventually made a deal with the devil.

The deal is that Mephistopheles would serve Faust in this life and when Faust would die he would come to hell and help Mephistopheles in return for giving Faust all this power.There many differences and similarities between Faust and Poham. For example, one major and significant difference between Poham and Faust is that Poham was greedy for land and wealth but Faust wanted unlimited knowledge and he wanted to experience everything. Therefore both of these characters make a deal with the devil to obtain whatever they wanted. Another difference between these two characters is that Poham actually works hard to acquire wealth and land but Faust just tells Mephistopheles to grant his every wish and give him knowledge. Another distinction is that Poham is a farmer but Faust is an enlightened thinker and scholar. Some similarities between Faust and Poham are that they both wanted to attain something, whether it was knowledge or wealth. None of them lived a happy life and they both lost their lives trying to achieve their goals.

For example, towards the end of the story as soon as Poham gets to finish marking his land, he collapses and dies right as he finishes, and towards the end of “Faust,” Faust dies trying to acquire knowledge. Another similarity between these characters is that they both were led by the devils to what they wanted and they eventually died. The devil in “How Much Land Does a Man Need?” and Mephistopheles in “Faust” are similar and different in many ways. Mephistopheles, from the epic poem “Faust,” by Goethe, is one of the most interesting characters if examined carefully. Much like today’s crude interpretations of the devil, Mephistopheles was a skeptic, a gambler, self- confident, witty, stubborn, smart, creative, tempting and of course, evil. Some of the differences are that Mephistopheles appears more often and is active in the story, and he is actually a main character unlike the devil in “How Much Land Does a Man Need?”

Mephistopheles is Faust’s servant and he does everything he says, and Mephistopheles is more involved with Faust unlike the devil in “How Much Land Does a Man Need,” who only appears for a breif time in the story. For example, the Devil recurs as the Bashkir chief, as the guy that tell Poham about the great land, as an invisible creature, sitting upon the stove while Poham and two women are having a conversation, and in a dream that Poham has of getting his land. Some similarities between the devils is that they both get what they want which is the souls of Poham and Faust. Another significant similarity between the two devils is that in both stories the devil wins which symbolizes evil.

To conclude, Poham in “How Much Land Does a Man Need,” by a 19th century Russian novelist Leo Tolstoy, and Faust in “Faust,” part 1 written by an eighteenth century German novelist Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, are similar and different in many ways. One difference between these two characters is that Poham is greedy for knowledge but Faust wants to attain knowledge. Also the devils in these short stories are different and similar in many ways. An example is that they both win towards the end of the story.

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