Character Analysis of Wolfgang von Goethe's The Sorrows of Young Werther

Character Analysis of Wolfgang von Goethe's The Sorrows of Young Werther

Length: 1943 words (5.6 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Powerful Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview



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...


... middle of paper ...


... 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."

Works Cited

Goethe, Johnann Wolfgang von. The Sorrows of Young Werther. Trans. Elizabeth Meyer and Louise Bogan. Forward by W.H. Auden. New York: Vintage, 2005.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

A Young Johann Wolfgang von Goethe Essay

- ... Harry Steinhauer believes that a modern reading of the novel depict Werther as a man who cannot, “...find a place for himself in society.” However, if we are to believe that Werther is aware of the difference in values between society and the individual, we too can see that he consciously elects to alienate himself from society by following his own desires as opposed to those structured to complement society. It can be said that while Lotte accepts the values of society and Werther opposes them, both of these actions come as a direct result of the interdependent relationship between the individual and society....   [tags: notorius German writer and statesman]

Powerful Essays
1359 words (3.9 pages)

Essay on Sorrows of a Young Werther, by Johann Wolgang von Goethe

- The relationship between a mother and son is vital to the emotional growth of a child. Insufficient ties between the two may result in a multitude of emotional complications ranging from behavioral problems to attachment issues. In Sorrows of a Young Werther by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, the relationship between the main character, Werther, and his mother is strained at best. The instability of their relationship prompts Werther to look outside his family for the emotional, fulfilling bonds he desires....   [tags: Literary Analysis, Relationship]

Powerful Essays
1367 words (3.9 pages)

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Faust Essay

- ... During his time with Mephisto, Faust comes across a young woman by the name of Gretchen, “Well. What’s doing. When am I going to have her?”(Goethe Line 2831). While reading, Gretchen is portrayed as your ordinary peasant girl. She’s innocent, pure and a little bit naïve for her age. As the poem progresses, Faust manages to seduce the young innocent girl, with the guidance of Mephistopheles. Gretchen gives into temptation. Here, Gretchen is the embodiment of good, while contrast, Faust is evil....   [tags: character analysis]

Powerful Essays
1014 words (2.9 pages)

The Sufferings of Young Werther by Goethe Essay

- Discuss the relationship between individual and society in Goethe’s The Sufferings of Young Werther. What features of Werther’s individuality make him incapable of taking up a “normal” position within society. It is accurate to suggest that an interdependent relationship exists between the individual and society. It is also accurate to state that in order for both the individual and society to flourish, the two entities must complement one another in values, beliefs and needs. It may be perceived that through carefully constructed characterisation throughout his eighteenth century novel ‘The Sufferings of Young Werther’, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe holistically depicts the way in which the re...   [tags: social interactions, lotte]

Powerful Essays
1269 words (3.6 pages)

Sorrows Of Young Werther Essay example

- WERTHER AND SELF DECEPTION Romanticism was deeply interested in creating art and literature of suffering, pain and self-pity. With poets pining for a love long gone and dead and authors falling for unavailable people, it appears that romantics in literature were primarily concerned with self-injury and delusion. In Goethe's novel "The Sorrows of Young Werther", we find another romantic character fulfilling his tragic destiny by falling victim to extreme self-deception. Werther's story may appear simple and even trite to some- a young man falls in love with a woman he can never be with and deludes himself into believing that she loves him too only to be severely disappointed in the end....   [tags: Johann Wolfgang von Goethe]

Free Essays
1360 words (3.9 pages)

The Poems ' The Sufferings Of Young Werther ' Essay

- “The period from 1700 to 1840 produced some highly sophisticated psychological theorizing that became central to German intellectual and cultural life, well in advance of similar developments in the English-speaking world” (Bell i). Some of the psychologists that have helped German literature, advanced are Sigmund Freud, Karen Horney, and Carl Rodgers. Originally, Sigmund Freud studied personality and developed a theory of neurosis and later, Karen Horney built upon his theory, changing some ideas, making her own theory of neurosis....   [tags: Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Romanticism]

Powerful Essays
1673 words (4.8 pages)

Essay on Goethe & Vonnegut

- Powerful Emotion (3) Anyone who reads The Sorrows of Young Werther by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe instantly feels the emotional intensity portrayed by Werther, the protagonist. His speculations about life are indeed unique, especially in modern times when life often goes by quickly without notice. Perhaps that is one of the reasons why his immense emotion strikes a chord with readers as coming from someone crazy or dangerous. Werther’s mental state seems incredibly alive at some times while seemingly lifeless at others....   [tags: essays research papers]

Free Essays
1397 words (4 pages)

Faust as a Tragic Hero Essay

- Faust as a Tragic Hero      In the story of Faust, written by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Faust is whirled into an adventure of sin and deceit. The further Faust follows the devil the closer he comes to his own demise, taking down with him the innocent Gretchen. As Faust goes on he embodies the characteristics of a tragic hero in a sense that he is borderline good and evil, constantly battling his conscience. The one major flaw that initiates his self-destruction is the fact that he feels he is extremely intelligent and can not be out witted....   [tags: Johann Wolfgang von Goethe essays papers]

Powerful Essays
770 words (2.2 pages)

The Nature Of Innocence By Wolfgang Von Goethe And Mary Shelley 's ' The Great Gatsby '

- Innocence can often times be acceptable, such as when a young child breaks an expensive item, or if a friend were to feed someone food that she did not know would cause an allergic reaction. Though innocence can be a typical label for someone that is uncorrupted by negative experiences or unaware of consequences, it easily becomes destructive because it can be used as a tool to construe a situation in a way that’s beneficial to one person. Both Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Mary Shelley’s characters idealize innocence in ways that justify their actions, no matter how horrid, through downplaying the existence of other traits and factors that may exist in a complex situation besides innocenc...   [tags: Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Romanticism]

Powerful Essays
1785 words (5.1 pages)

The Dramatic Tragedy Of Faust By Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe Essay

- The Romanticism period is marked by changes in societal beliefs as a rejection of the values and scientific thought pursued during the Age of Enlightenment. During this period, art, music, and literature are seen as high achievement, rather than the science and logic previously held in esteem. Nature is a profound subject in the art and literature and is viewed as a powerful force. Searching for the meaning of self becomes a noble quest to undertake. In the dramatic tragedy of “Faust” by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, we find a masterpiece of Romanticism writing that includes the concepts that man is essentially good, the snare of pride, and dealing with the supernatural....   [tags: Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Romanticism]

Powerful Essays
974 words (2.8 pages)