In Goethe's novel, Werther died a very slow, excruciatingly painful death. He refused to conform to life as it was; refused to move further away from the nature he so cherished. By doing so, Werther was in denial of adulthood. Werther saw suicide as the only escape from adulthood, and his only chance at eternal happiness. Anything was worth happiness, "certainly, whoever is sick will not refuse the bitterest medicines, in order to restore the health he longs for."(July 1) Werther uses this analogy to prove his point that a person will go far to rid themselves of unpleasantness. Werther's source of unpleasantness is Lotte, for he cannot have a claim to her. To be an adult is to be able to say no to oneself. Werther was incapable coming to an understanding that Lott...
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...this thought. He was free to grab the knife that was to execute him; however he did not do so. "He merely turned his head, which was still free to move, and gazed around him."(228) K. had a chance to take control of his own destiny, but instead he chose to conform. His final words were "I'm like a Dog."(229) K feels that he was guilty all along, and now this is the punishment for him.
All four protagonists died at the end of their stories, and all were guilty in their own right. Life was commonplace for Werther, Rafael Valentine, Ivan Ilyich, and Joseph K. until their lives began to change. Each character was ill equipped for such changes, and therefore suffered greatly because of them. If only they were able to transcend themselves, they could have averted the impending disaster of death that was about to be bestowed upon them.
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