The Sufferings of Young Werther by Goethe Essay

The Sufferings of Young Werther by Goethe Essay

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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 relationship between society and the individual can shape the individual, how the individual, having been rejected from society, can become a body of self destruction and the way in which relationships throughout society can be shaped in response to conflicting perspectives of the individual and society as a whole.
Due to the interdependent relationship between the individual and society, societal values can greatly influence the individual. It can be said that Goethe’s characterisation of Lotte and Werther clearly depict this notion in varying outcomes. Lotte is depicted as a compassionate and loyal character whose relationship with Werther depicts her as somewhat naive. Despite having convinced herself for the majority of the novel that her feelings for Werther are due to a brother-like connection, Lotte acknowledges her individual desires of wanting to, “keep [Werther] for herself.” (82) Throughout the novel, the heart and soul are symbolic of passionate love. With, “her heart squeezed tight, and a dark cloud [hanging] over her eyes,” Lotte ...


... middle of paper ...


... but comes back and everything is diseased/dying, recurring plot reflective of his addictive attitude
 Re: ants -> see as destruction of society
• Re: Prince about creativity? Perhaps.
 Re: death scene
• Horse (free from self)
• The drawn out death sequence (punishment for turning back on society perhaps)
• Imperfection... world order... pg 138
 Loses self in romantic dreams - Goethe pg 129 re: intertextuality, becomes Ossian
o Madman
 Loved Lotte
 Suggesting that freedom from society equates to happiness, but has completely lost self because they’re crazy, really.
o The murder
 Obsessive over lover
 If I can’t have her no one can, reflective of Werther’s idea of Lotte
 Both seem to see their actions (murder and suicide) as tribute of their love
• Lotte touched the gun, ergo sanctioned the suicide
o Could go into religious blood sacrifice if time allows


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