Faust is an aging old scholar, who after spending decades of his life studying, has realized he has achieved nothing, all the while missing his youth and chances at love. After cursing science and faith, Faust attempts suicide, twice. Each time he's about to drink poison, he hears a choir outside his window and sets the poison back down on the table. Faust, desperate, seeks guidance from the devil, and moments later, the devil, Méphistophélès, appears. Faust tells him of his desires for youth and love. The devil tells Faust that he can have it, but only if he forfeits his soul. Faust struggles with the decision, but the devil tempts him further by showing him a vision of a beautiful young maiden, Marguerite. Faust makes a deal with the devil, and the devil turns the poison into a potion of youth. Faust drinks the potion and transforms into a lovely, young man. The two venture out in search of Marguerite.
Faust and Méphistophélès arrive at a city fair, where townspeople, students, and soldiers celebrate in merriment. A young soldier, Valentin, about to leave for the war, asks his friend Siébel to protect and watch over his sister, Marguerite, in his absence. Siébel agrees and the crowd begins to sing another song, but is interrupted by Méphistophélès when he begins to sing a song about gold and greed. He causes wine to flow from an old barrel and provides everyone with alcohol. He says a malign toast towards Marguerite, and Valentin intervenes. Valentin draws his sword, but it shatters with Méphistophélès' slight touch. At that moment Valentin knows who he is dealing with and uses the hilt of his sword as a cross, hoping to get away from the devil. When Méphistophélès is joined by Faust once more, the two lead the villagers in a new round of song. Faust pulls Marguerite aside and tells her that he admires her, but she politely declines his advances.
Siébel leaves a small bouquet of flowers outside of Marguerite's door, as she has taken a liking to her. Faust sees this and sends the devil out to search for a better gift. The devil returns with an ornate box filled with exquisite jewelry. Faust leaves the box outside of her door next to Siébel's flowers. A while later, Marguerite's neighbor arrives and spies the ornate box. She tells Marguerite that she must have an admirer. Marguerite tries on the magnificent jewels and falls in love with them. Faust and the devil make their way into the garden and visit with the two ladies. The devil flirts with Marguerite's neighbor so that Faust can speak to Marguerite alone. The two steal a quick kiss, but she sends him away. The two men leave, but stay close to her house. Inside, Marguerite sings a song, wishing Faust would return. Faust jumps at the chance and knocks on her door. She greets him, and the devil laughs manically - he knows his plan is working.