As well divining the nature of love, the poems bring to light certain social issues, such as religion, lust, the poems speak of the gender roles and the power each holds. Some other themes present within the selected readings are of maturation, the question of human life and its meaning and of course the meaning of love and whether it can exist through the darkness.
For a reader of “Rose in the Heather” It takes no great leap of imagination to see in this poem a scenario for the contraction of a wounding disease, sexually transmitted between the sexes. Along with the disease, another action is seen through the following quotation
“And the rash boy broke the rose,
Rosebud in the heather.
With her thorns she dared oppose.
Useless all her ah's and oh's,
Had to grant his pleasure.”
Through these situations, Goethe is discussing rape; the power play between man and woman is in the foreground. The taking of the pleasure from the rose signifies man’s power over women in the physical world. The breaking of the rose symbolizes man’s power over the female sphere. The term deflowering has existed since the 1300s and the very literal images of deflowering support the flower representing the female and the picker the male. Roses are ancient symbols of love and beauty, symbols of femininity and the female sphere. They represe...
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... “No one can love the husk, thus dried and riven/ However fine a kernel once concealing.” This love by passes the physical and it ascends closer to the ream of divine, an ideal kind of love that can be recognized despite lack of body.
Within the assigned poems Goethe does not reach a conclusion as to what love is, he does however show that the poetic and the physical forms of love are connected in that of the divine. As he ends this segment with “Prœmion” saying, that man’s love is accompanied by fear. This ending passage shows the mixing of the lighter and darker emotions that are interwoven into the preceding poems. These emotions along with the lighter and darker themes within the poems show a journey that represents aging, maturity; physically and emotionally, and discuss deeper social themes of the separate spheres, gender roles and the power within each.
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