Werther as the Prototypical Romantic in Sorrows of Young Werther

1358 Words 6 Pages
Werther as the Prototypical Romantic in Sorrows of Young Werther

In Goethe's Sorrows of Young Werther, the protagonist's characteristics and ideas define him as the prototypical romantic personality. The Romantic Movement emphasizes emotion over reason, an idea that Werther emulates throughout his life. Werther loves pastoral settings; in nature, he feels most in touch with his emotions. He rejects rationality and complexity with the sentiment that life is an adventure to be guided by intuition. Werther's longing for his love, Lotte, is a paradigm of the Romantic concept of sehnsucht, one's constant yearning for something that they will never possess or know. Werther finds Lotte to be the object of his hopeless
…show more content…
Werther's romantic tendency to wander is reflected in his love of nature. He is sensitive enough to be moved by his surroundings, such as when he returns to the land where he grew up. He remembers watching the river, wondering how far it went. His imagination went as far as he could fathom, but "still it had to go on and on," like Werther's interminable search for happiness with Lotte (84). His pitiful yearning eventually consumes him to the point that even nature's "glory is incapable of pumping one ounce of bliss from heart to brain" (95).

Werther writes to his friend William not to send him any more books, for his "heart surges wildly enough without any outside influence" (26). He chooses the company of those who, like him, appreciate their knowledge, but value their heart more than their mind. While visiting his childhood home, Werther stays at the hunting lodge of a Prince who expresses his intellect in terms, postulates, and scientific facts. Werther thinks that insight is more important than information, and rejoices that "the things I know, every man can know, but, oh, my heart is mine alone!" (85). He also treasures relationships and feelings more than material possessions or social status. In the unintelligible world, the only evidence of existence that one leaves behind can be found in the memories of their loved ones. Werther is certain that he can find peace in his heart, but his

Related Documents