Goethe's Sentimentalism Essay

Goethe's Sentimentalism Essay

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From the first storytellers to the most recent Poet Laureate, inner emotion has always fueled the creators of language art. Without inner conflict, and emotion stemming from that conflict, there is no wood to make the fire burn, no motivation behind the words. While all artistic authors have emotion as an inspiration for their works, and all poets use emotion as the stimulus for or subject of their writings, the sentimentalists took the most intense standpoint on the emotional spectrum in artistic writing. Because of their almost melodramatic use of emotion, and their willingness to delve into the most intimate of feelings, the sentimentalist writers like Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, were perhaps the best authorities on writing about emotion.
Emotion is the flame that powers the human experience and Goethe exemplifies this extreme passion characteristic of sentimentalism. Out of all of the sentimentalist works, Goethe complies to every feature of this literary movement: the immediate logging of feelings experienced, the intensity in which these feelings are described, the use of nature as a reflection of human nature, and the plot driving the emotions. Goethe's novel The Sufferings of Young Werther, contains every one of these aspects of sentimentalism.
The Sufferings of Young Werther is an entirely epistolary novel, where Werther documents his every emotional experience. Each time he has an experience, he is swayed by an intense feeling, chronicles it, and sends it in a letter to his friend Wilhelm. This is an immediate and effective expression of his sentiment, characteristic of the power of sentimentalism. Because this novel is roughly autobiographical, it is a perfect reflection of emotional impact on humans. Goethe and W...


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...tion causes emotion which causes more action. Human nature is to be emotional, and expressing that emotion- often in a powerful way- is the best way to release that emotion. Although melodrama is not particularly accepted in modern society, when an emotion swells within a person, it must be released. The more powerful the release of a feeling, the more effective the release is. Emotion is like a Chinese finger trap: the more you pull away from it, the tighter a grasp it has on you; if you push into it as hard as you can (express it in the fullest way), then you will be freed. The best authors on emotion are those who reveal it in the strongest way and, although overdone in terms of modern norms, Goethe is the unrivaled leader of this. When looking at my previous examples, there is no parallel for the level of expression by any other author we have studied thus far.

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