Life can be tough and sorrowful, especially for a gentle being like Werther.
He gives us his soul on a literary platter, for us to take a peek at all of his sorrows.
Who Should Read “The Sorrows of Young Werther”? And Why?
“The Sorrows of Young Werther” is a specific, dark story told in the form of letters, or what is known in the literary world as epistolary form, about the melancholics events and experiences of the main character, as he moves town trying to escape from the sorrows of existence.
It is a book known to be loosely inspired by its author’s life, and that makes it even a more compelling read.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe Biography
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe was a prolific German writer of texts in all forms: from essays to scientific texts, to novels, who became a literary celebrity rather early – at the age of 25 and still holds the same status among passionate readers and critics.
The novel starts as Werther, the protagonist and narrator of the novel, is writing the letters to Wilhelm, who is his friend, and tells him all about his life, starting from the moment when he left his town in the rural area of the country, because he faced a failure in his love life.
To be more exact, he was a lover of both a woman, and later her sister, and that romance, as one could only expect, ended badly and forced him to flee.
However, he does not express any regret about the way everything turned out to be; in fact, he really likes the village he ended up living in.
It is a place called Wahlheim, and the beauty of the place made him retrain from his art, and instead enjoy the nature and the walks around the countryside.
During his walks, he meets a lot of peasants, and he tells the stories of these characters usually along with his own.
Werther is a passionate person, and deeply romantic, and so when his eye catches Lotte (Charlotte), he falls madly in love.
Lotte is a woman whose mother passed away, and she was, therefore, left alone to take care of her siblings.
There is one problem though (which Werther does not seem to consider as such) – she is engaged to be married.
Although this fact brings him sorrow, Werther is already too much in love, and so he cannot refrain from communicating with her.
But building that close of a relationship only puts him in unbearable pain. That is one day, he decides that it be the best if he left Wahlheim.
However, when he leaves to visit a friend in Weimar, he finds that place to be completely opposite and not a good fit for him.
His friend, whom he knew from long ago, has become a part of a group of aristocrats, where Werther does not belong in and feels out of place.
This forces him to go back to Wahlheim, and doing so makes him hope that he will be able to pick up the relationship with Lotte from where they left off, but sadly she is already married by the time he is back.
She does agree that they meet but believes it is inappropriate for her, now that she is married, to spend so much time with him, so she asks him to minimize his visits.
He agrees, but before he does as she asks him to, he writes a poem in which he expresses all of his feelings, all of his love.
She loves him too and feels moved by the gesture, so they share an embrace, but they both know that they are not meant to be – at least not in that situation.
But, there is a way out of such a love triangle, and the way is death. One person has to die, and then the people left will be able to live in peace.
Werther is too nice and gentle to be able to murder someone, and so he decides that it would be best if he is the one that dies.
He sends a letter to Lotte’s husband and asks for dueling pistols, telling him that he will go on a journey.
Lotte receives and reads the letter, but although she knows what kind of journey he is talking about, she does nothing to stop him.
He gets the pistols and believes that getting them is a confirmation that everyone agrees him to be the one who dies, so he shoots himself in the head.
However, he somehow shoots himself in a bad place, which leaves him in 12 hours of agony before he finally takes his last breath.
He does not forget to leave a note for Lotte, in which he expresses his belief that she and he were meant to be, and that they have to meet again, and finally be together – in heaven.
This whole book is colored in shades of sadness, but the last moment of Werther’s life is nothing but sorrow.
The Sorrows of Young Werther Epilogue
Although Werther sacrificed himself and was always gentle to the people he met, Lotte does not attend his funeral to tell her last goodbye.
He is buried under a tree he usually mentions in his letters, believing that one day Lotte will follow him in death because of her broken heart.
Despite all the hope he had, however, in death, he is entirely alone.
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“The Sorrows of Young Werther PDF Quotes”The human race is a monotonous affair. Most people spend the greatest part of their time working in order to live, and what little freedom remains so fills them with fear that they seek out any and every means to be rid of it. Click To Tweet I have so much in me, and the feeling for her absorbs it all; I have so much, and without her it all comes to nothing. Click To Tweet I am proud of my heart alone, it is the sole source of everything, all our strength, happiness and misery. Click To Tweet I am proud of my heart alone, it is the sole source of everything, all our strength, happiness and misery. Click To Tweet It's true that nothing in this world makes us so necessary to others as the affection we have for them. Click To Tweet
Our Critical Review
“The Sorrows of Young Werther” is strangely enjoyable novel. At least for me. I did not read any epistolary novels before this one (or after it, as a matter of fact). It was fascinating to me how can one author build a whole story just through the letters the character writes.
I know it may sound boring, but give it a chance.
You will either love it, or you will hate it – there is no middle when it comes to this book.
My bets are on the former.