Essay on Sorrow Of Young Werther by Goethe

Essay on Sorrow Of Young Werther by Goethe

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Death has been the consequent for the main characters in each of the first four novels read for the course. The protagonist in each of the first four novels; Werther, Rafael, Ivan Ilyich, and K., respectively; met their demise on the final page of their respective novels. All four directly or indirectly were the cause of their painful demise. Werther chose suicide over conforming to the ways of adulthood, and moving further away from nature. Rafael chose to live a life of possessions, and in turn, his inner-self dwindled. Ivan Ilyich alienated himself from those around him, and hid behind the aristocratic social mask. Finally, Joseph K. causes his won demise by being a puppet of society, conforming to all rules, and to his own sense of guilt. Ivan Ilyich was the only character to somewhat remedy the situation before slipping into the darkness of death. In all cases, the actions of the lives of all four protagonists very clearly displayed their weaknesses as characters.
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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