The Sorrows of Young Werther Essay

The Sorrows of Young Werther Essay

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Goethe’s first and most famous narrative work, The Sorrows of Young Werther, beautifully captures the spirit of the birth of romanticism in Germany. Beauty being essential to the romantics, Kant defined it as “purposefulness without purpose”. Goethe had this same idea when writing, in that aesthetic judgment is different than subjective or cognitive judgment. These aesthetic judgments are concerned with experiencing an object as designed for the emotion they can invoke, not for any particular intention. In his drawings and in The Sorrows of Young Werther, Goethe seeks to venerate nature. His European predecessors that followed the Enlightenment sought to rationalize and look at nature empirically. Goethe and the Romantics rejected that assumption and looked at nature in terms of its artistic qualities. To further embrace and connect to nature, the Romantics used powerful emotions and intuition to enhance the aesthetics of their environment. Goethe wrote The Sorrows of Young Werther as a semi-autobiographical work. Goethe and Werther both draw and admire nature – they are both true Romantics. Goethe, like Werther, felt sadness and tragic despair when he fell in love with an unobtainable woman. In this respect, The Sorrows of Young Werther along with his drawings made at the same time are purifying works that helped Goethe settle his unhealthy feelings. As it is necessary to analyze an artist’s work under the same terms of the time in which they were produced, there are inherent connections between the novel and the drawings.
Goethe’s drawings are invariably related to the text of the novel as they were produced as the same time he was writing. His drawing, Bergige Flusslandschaft mit Burgturm und Mühle (1765), translates to moun...


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...es Werther for his knowledge, while he believes he should instead be valued because of his emotions. Ataraxia is a Dionysian ideal as it is an emotive state of tranquility and freedom. Werther is content in acknowledging he does not know where his heart will take him, and in this he is not weighed down by things beyond his control. He demonstrates this by reading Homer and taking time to contemplate the world around him. Goethe’s drawings are inherently related to his novel The Sorrows of Young Werther as they were drawn as the book was written. Both art forms capture and appeal to the strong emotional senses of the Romantics. Many of the art forms run parallel to one another, which further illuminate each form individually, giving a greater sense of Goethe’s appeal to the aesthetic movement he helped establish in which emotions are to be untamed and fully embraced.

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