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
…show more content…
In the beginning of the novel Werther is seen spending most of his time exploring the countryside on his own. Early in the novel Werther writes “I am alone, and feel the charm of existence in this spot, which was created for the bliss of souls like mine. I am so happy, my dear friend, so absorbed in the exquisite sense of mere tranquil existence, that I neglect my talents” (May 10). There are significant parallels between Werther’s mentality and the aforementioned drawing. Werther finds happiness in isolation in nature. He wishes to separate himself from the mundane social conventions of society and simply meditate the true power that nature provides. The drawing is from the perspective of someone almost rooted into the environment of which he sees. The horizon is far behind hills and mountains giving the sense of being at the far end of an abyss. It is interesting to note the contradiction at the end of the quoted passage where he claims to be neglecting his talents. Werther is a Romantic and by simply perceiving nature he is actively painting in a sense. Interpretation of the world cannot be accomplished passively - by meditating and putting himself into a tranquil state he is creating art.
His emotions are very mercurial, in one letter he is in a state of bliss, in another, despair. Like the weather his moods cannot be controlled. Werther’s mood is dependent on that of the weather. A thunderstorm could be simultaneous with intense anger in