With regard to the special purport of Euphorian, Lynceus and the rest, we have nothing more to say at present ; nay perhaps we may have already said too much. For it must not be forgotten by the commentator, and will not, of a surety, be forgotten by Mephistopheles, whenever we may please to deliver his Epilogue, that Helena is not an Allegory, but a Phantasmagory ; not a type of one thing, but a vague fluctuating fitful adumbration of many. This is no Picture painted on canvas, with mere material colours, and steadfastly abiding our scrutiny ; but rather it is like the Smoke of a Wizard’s Cauldron, in which we gaze on its flickering tints and wild splendours, thousands of strangest shapes unfold themselves, yet no one will abide with us ; and thus, as Goethe says elsewhere, ‘we are reminded of Nothing and of All.”
Properly speaking, Helena is what Germans call a Mährchen (Fabulous Tale), a species of fiction they have particularly excelled in, and of which Goethe has already produced more than one distinguished specimen
For the present, therefore we take leave of Helena and King Frost, and of their author : but regard to the latter, our task is nowise ended ; indeed, as yet, hardly begun ; for it is not in the province of the Mährchen that Goethe will ever become more interesting to English readers. But like his own Euphorian, though he rises aloft into the Æther, he derives, Antæus-like, his strength from the Earth.
Thomas Carlyle, Goethe’s Helena, Critical and Miscellaneous Essays Collected and Republished (New York, John B Alden Publisher 1885) p. 52-54
We must say, his style of gallantry seems to us of the most chivalrous and high-flown descriptions, if indeed not a little euphistic. In their own eyes, Helena and her Chorus, encircled in this Gothic court appear, for some minutes, no better than captives; but, suddenly issuing from galleries and portals, and descending the stairs in stately procession, are seen a numerous suite of Pages, whose gay habiliments and red downy cheeks are greatly admired by the Chorus: these bear with them a throne and canopy, with footstools and cushions . ..
… and Helena, being reverently beckoned into the same, is thus forthwith constituted Sovereign of the whole establishment. To herself such royalty still seems a little dubious.
Faust. He leads with him a culprit in fetters ; and, by way of introduction, explains to Helena that this man, Lynceus, has deserved death by his misconduct; but that to her, as Queen of the Castle, must appertain the right of dooming or of pardoning him. The crime of Lynceus is, indeed, of an extraordinary nature : he was Warder of the tower ; but now though, as his name imports, with the keenest vision, he has failed in warning Faust that so august a visitor was approaching, and thus occasioned the most dreadful breach of politeness. Lynceus pleads guilty : quick sighted as lynx, in usual cases, he has been blinded with an excess of light in this instance. While looking towards the orient at the ‘course of the morning,’ he noticed a ‘sun rise wonderfully in the south,’ and, all his senses taken captive by such surprising beauty, he no longer knew his right hand from his left, or could move a limb, or utter a word, to announce her arrival. Under these circumstances, Helena sees room for extending the royal prerogative; and after expressing unfeigned regret at this so fatal influence of her charms over the whole male sex, dismisses the Warder with a reprieve.
Thomas Carlyle, Critical and Miscellaneous Essays Collected and Republished Goethe’s Helena.-Goethe-Burns (New York, John B. Alden Publisher 1885. p. 40 -41)
American Gothic is a painting by Grant Wood in the collection of the Art Institute of Chicago. Wood’s inspiration came from what is now known as the American Gothic House, and his decision to paint the house along with “the kind of people I fancied should live in that house.” The painting shows a farmer standing beside a woman that has been interpreted to be either his wife or his daughter. The figures were modeled by the artist’s sister and their dentist. The woman is dressed in a colonial print apron evoking 19th-century Americana, and the couple are in the traditional roles of men and women, the man’s pitchfork symbolizing hard labor, and the flowers over the woman’s right shoulder suggesting domesticity. The plants on the porch of the house aremother-in-law’s tongue and geranium, which are the same plants as in Wood’s 1929 portrait of his mother, Woman with Plants.