"at the centre of the picture a young woman, das ewig Weibliche"

Das ewig Weibliche zieht uns hinan is a well-known quote from Faust by Johnann Wolfgang von Goethe. A rough translation is: the eternal feminine, draws us upward.

Faust, the central character in a German legend, who famously sold his soul to the devil (in the guise of Mephistopheles) in order to gain complete earthly knowledge, has been depicted in many works of art, literature and music. Goethe's version is split into parts, and while the first part is widely read and taught in schools, the second part is thought to be more difficult to understand, partly due to its extensive use of Greek mythology, including a noteworthy cameo from Helen of Troy. This part of the play is written entirely in verse, divided into five allegorical acts and tells the story of Faust's spiritual journey and (in the Goethe version at least), his ultimate redemption.

The 'das ewig Weibliche' quote is spoken by the chorus, at the very end of Part 2.

 

A clip from the 1926 silent film based on the Faust legend.