“The Sorrows of Young Werther” is a novel from the German Sturm und Drang and one of the most popular novels in the world history. It’s an epistolary novel composed out of letters divided into two parts. The letters are from Werther to his friend Wilhelm in whom he seeks support. Mostly the book contains Werther’s letters so we get the impression like we’re reading a diary and Wilhelm’s answers can be anticipated out of Werther’s letters. Wilhelm tries to reason with him all the time but Werther is carried away by his emotions and mood changes.
All the letters are for Wilhelm except 2; one is dedicated to Lotta and the other one to Albert and they were written on May 4th, 1771 and December 2nd, 1772. The novel is a first person narrative and the publisher addition is in the third person (the editor didn’t think Werther deserved attention because he wasn’t an ordinary man)
The novel is about the faith of a person not fitting in with the society, estranged, unaccepted and unhappily in love who sees the only exit in the classic Romantic getaway. The novel has a parallel composition and it is divided into two parts:
1. Departure, encounter with Lotta, love, emotional rupture, runaway caused by the strong emotions
2. Arrival, another encounter with Lotta, love that’s unable to control, emotional sobriety, guns, and departure caused by feelings of emotional suffocation
In the beginning, the publisher speaks to the readers by saying how he gathered everything about the history of poor Werther and that he knows the readers will be thankful to him.
The young Werther still isn’t sure what he wants to do in life. He comes to the city W. under the excuse he has some unfinished business concerning his mother’s inheritance.
He came to a city of extraordinary beauty which influences the development of his artistic skills. By nature, he is kind and simple so he wins over the hearts of the citizens.
One day Werther is invited to a ball where he meets Lotta. She is the daughter of the seigniory’s estate administrator and takes care of her eight siblings after her mother’s passing away. Werther lays eyes on her immediately because of her inner beauty.
Despite the fact that he knows she is engaged to Albert, Werther fell in love with her. During the ball, a storm starts raging on and the two of them spend a night looking at the sky but thinking about each other. They are linked even more by a poem by Friedrich Gottlieb. From that night, Lotta and Werther spend a lot of time together.
When Albert came back from his trip the three of them spend many days enjoying each other’s company and the natural beauties of the town. Werther starts doubting Lotta’s love and realizes he will never be with her.
Albert is a pleasant and a nice man that has the patience to put up with Werther’s show of sympathies towards Lotta. Werther becomes more in love with her and friendship isn’t good enough for him anymore. He starts thinking he got ill because of Lotta’s love.
As a birthday gift, Werther received an edition of Homer decorated with a red ribbon from Lotta’s dress that she wore the night they met. His love for Lotta gets stronger by each day. He didn’t want to influence the harmony of the engaged couple so he left and became a secretary in another city.
He was there for a while but since his superior was extremely petty it destroyed the little will he had for a work that was never even appealing to him. He felt like he didn’t belong anywhere because he couldn’t identify himself with the nobility or the high society. Nobody had any consideration for his artistic soul.
He was stuck in a high society that treated him like a commoner and he got hurt by their behavior. They showed clearly that he was unwanted and he resigns his joy. He starts working again but can’t handle the job so he quits.
His failed attempt to work made his love for Lotta, who got married to Albert in the meantime, even stronger. He felt unfulfilled with his work and couldn’t handle the emotions he had for Lotta.
He came back to the city W. and his condition becomes unbearable. Werther becomes miserable and frustrated. he was unable to hide the repulsion he felt towards Albert and his thoughts about Lotta not being happy with Albert.
Albert sensed his love and asked Lotta to spend less time with him. Even she started noticing that his feelings weren’t ordinary. She asked Werther not to visit her for a few days while she prepares for Christmas. Werther gets into many conflicts with the people around him and Lotta wants to get out of that situation but doesn’t know how. He thinks about suicide and decides to get prepared for it.
Despite his intentions to take his life away he visits Lotta before Christmas. He read to her and the emotions got the best of him. He kissed and hugged Lotta. Both of them got carried away but Lotta got her act together and told Werther he shouldn’t show his face in front of her ever again. Her words strengthen his intention to kill himself.
Werther sends Albert a letter asking him to borrow his guns because he is taking a trip. Lotta had a hunch of his intentions but didn’t react.
She was the last one to touch the gun that was sent to Werther. The same night Werther took away his life after writing a letter.
He was found the next morning in a blue-yellow suit that reminded him of the day he met Lota. Next to him was the opened book Emilio Galotti’s
His death caused grieve and he was buried in the place he wanted to be – between two lindens in the end of the cemetery. Lotta’s family was present at the funeral but there was no priest.
Characters: Albert, Lotta, Werther
Werther – the main character. In the time, this book came to life he symbolized the dissatisfaction towards the society and institutions. He lived in pain, sufferings and dissatisfied with his life. Werther found comfort in nature that was his getaway. His character represented citizens and ordinary people who got along well with him. Aristocracy was something he could never adapt to. Lotta was the synonym of happiness, bright future and everything he could only dream of before he met her. He neglected the fact she was engaged so we can conclude that he lived with his head in the clouds. Love for Lotta took over him so much he couldn’t think straight or work. When he starts thinking about suicide, Albert counteracted his opinions which made his decision to kill himself even stronger. When Lotta gets married he sees it as the only salvation from the emotions that got the best of him. Despite his religiosity, he took his own life and tried to justify himself before God. The author used Werther to criticize the society.
Lotta – she loved people, children, literature and she was very much like Werther. She lost her mother when she was young and lived a hard life but despite it, all small things made her happy and cheerful. She was very sensitive but, unlike Werther, she manages to adjust her emotions to the situations. AS soon as she met Werther, she fell in love with him. Werther saw an angel in her because of her beautiful virtues. Even though she was in love, she was well aware of the responsibilities she had regarding her family and Albert. She lived by the rules and society regulations when she realizes Werther love was growing she tried to push him away to diminish his sufferings. When he declared his love she told him never to come to her again because she didn’t want to put her social position in danger. She condemned him to death and herself to pain and suffering.
Albert – the complete opposite of Werther. He was smart and well educated. Albert was a completely reliable person that could ensure someone’s safety. Even though the author created him to create Werther’s opposition he wasn’t described as a negative character. Even though Werther saw a rival in him, he wasn’t that at all because he met Lotta long before Werther did and had all right to court her. His feelings for Lotta were never stated but his actions showed he will love and respect her forever. Werther was a good friend of his despite him knowing how Werther felt for Lotta.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe Biography
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe was a German writer and statesman. Born in Frankfurt in 1749, Goethe’s body of work is extensive, including, aside from his poetry and four novels, over 10.000 letters and nearly 3.000 drawings.
Goethe was an avid botanist, anatomist and was once a law student. He was made a nobleman in 1782 after the success of his first novel. During his lifetime, Goethe sat on the Duke’s privy council and was responsible for the reopening of silver mines in Ilmenau and several administrative reforms in the nearby University of Jena.
Goethe was one of the goliaths of writing in German culture. All through a long and full life he exhibited his productive virtuoso in a wide range of zones. Goethe formed abstract works and built up a creative rule that impacted his counterparts all through Europe, and which are still looked to as models. The position he holds in the improvement of German writing resembles what Shakespeare has in most English-speaking nations.
In 1806, Goethe married Christiane Vulpius, who had been his mistress for a year and with whom he already had a son.
Some of Goethe’s most important works include, “Gotz von Berlichingen”, a tragedy based on the historical account of the poet Gottfried, “The Sorrows of Young Werther”, an autobiographical novel and “Faust” a play about a scholar who makes a deal with the devil in order to sample immortality and life’s greatest pleasures.
By the time he died of heart failure in 1832, Goethe was a very respected, influential writer in German literature. His novels and plays made a great impact on German writers of his time and continue to make an impact even today.