Character Analysis of Wolfgang von Goethe's The Sorrows of Young Werther
The purpose of this papers it to give general information about the author, Wolfgang von Goethe, and introduce as well as analyze the main character of one of his most influential works: The Sorrows of Young Werther. The protagonist of this series of confessional letters, Werther, is in fact a tragic figure who committed suicide as a result of his loneliness and critical approach to society, as well as his obsession for a woman, Lotte, whom he could not eventually conquest.
Wolfgang von Goethe was a German poet, as well as dramatist, novelist, and scientist who lived between 1749 and 1832. Goethe's poetry expresses a modern, and revolutionary view of humanity's relationship to nature, history, and society; his plays and novels reflect a deep understanding of human individuality. According to the 19th-century English critic Matthew Arnold, Goethe must be considered not only "the manifest centre of German literature" but also one of the most multitalented figures in the entire world of literature.
Goethe was born on August 28, 1749, in Frankfurt am Main, as a son of a government official. From 1765 to 1768 he studied law at Leipzig; there he first developed an interest in literature and painting and became acquainted with the dramatic works of his contemporaries Friedrich Gottlieb Klopstock and Gotthold Ephraim Lessing. Their influence and his own connection to the daughter of a wine merchant at whose tavern he dined are reflected in his earliest poetry and in his first dramatic works. These early plays included a one-act comedy in verse, Die Laune des Verliebten (The Lover's Caprice, 1767), and a tragedy in verse, Die Mitschuldigen (The Fellow-Culpri...
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... incapable of establishing close relations with people he did not believe were equal to him. As a result o desperation, he creates an ideal in Lotte who, however, can never love him back. Not only due to her engagement to Albert but also due to the large support she got from her family, in opposition to Werther.
This short novel, even though written almost 250 years ago, demonstrates that Werther's critique of society is still relevant in today's society. It does not matter whether one is an aristocrat or a low class worker, everybody at the end need "empathic love."7 As Goethe claims in page 64 of his work "Without doubt, the only thing that makes Man's life on earth essential and necessary is love."
Goethe, Johnann Wolfgang von. The Sorrows of Young Werther. Trans. Elizabeth Meyer and Louise Bogan. Forward by W.H. Auden. New York: Vintage, 2005.
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