The Sorrows of Young Werther

Character List

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Adelin

Werther's good-hearted co-worker when he is in his official capacity under the Count.

Albert

Sober, thoughtful, responsible - in a word, the antithesis of Werther - Albert is Lotte's betrothed, and later her husband. At first, he and Werther get along well enough. They are both interesting personalities and incisive conversationalists; indeed, if Lotte had not come between them, they might have been good friends, like Werther and Wilhelm. Instead, Werther's persistent clinging to Lotte drives a rift between Albert and him.

Count C

An aristocratic friend of Werther's while he is working in his official capacity under the envoy. The Count and Werther are kindred spirits of sorts, who are barred from fully realizing their friendship by the social conventions that keep a bourgeois man like Werther from fraternizing too openly with an aristocrat.

Country Lad

A young peasant with whom Werther identifies: he is in love with the widow for whom he works. When his love is foiled, he murders his replacement.

Editor

This mysterious figure steps in to narrate the final part of Werther. He is specifically not Wilhelm, nor is he any other known character; he claims to be merely a faithful reporter of facts, but occasionally shows flashes of insight into characters and narrates events from their perspective. His anonymous omniscience seems Biblical.

Envoy

Werther's immediate superior in his position as a court official. The envoy is a meticulous, unhappy man, and impossible to please. Werther despises him, and the envoy dislikes Werther in return.

Fräulein von B

A charming aristocrat whom Werther befriends while working in his court appointment. Fräulein von B. is discouraged from pursuing her friendship with Werther by her snobbish mother.

Frau M

An old woman who lives in a village in the mountains; she requests that Lotte be with her while she dies.

Friederike

Herr Schmidt's sweetheart, of whom he is inordinately jealous.

Hans

Philip's younger brother, a peasant lad of Wahlheim.

Heinrich

A man "in a green frock coat" whom Werther encounters trying to gather flowers in winter. This madman yearns for his happy days in the asylum. It is later revealed that Heinrich was a former employee of Lotte's family, driven insane by his unrequited passion for her.

Herr Audran

Lotte's partner on the night of the dance during which she and Werther meet.

Herr Schmidt

A gloomy fellow whom Werther and Lotte meet during their visit to a village in the mountains.

Lady S, Lady T, Colonel B, Baron F

Aristocratic attendees of a dance thrown by Count C. who are offended by the presence of Werther, a bourgeois, at the party.

Leonora

A young woman with whose sister Werther entertained himself before the novel begins. Werther writes that she was passionately in love with him.

Lotte

Charlotte S., familiarly called Lotte, is forced by her mother's untimely death to act as a mother to her eight younger brothers and sisters - a burden that she accepts cheerfully and selflessly. Writing of the woman on whom the character of Lotte was chiefly based, Goethe said, "Lotte was undemanding in two ways: first, according to her nature, which was intent on creating general good will rather than on attracting any specific attention, and second, she had already chosen someone who was worthy of her, who had declared himself willing of joining his fate to hers for life." In Werther, Lotte has pledged herself to Albert, though she feels a special (one might say sisterly) bond with Werther. Werther, for his part, is infatuated with her almost to the point of madness.

Louis

One of Lotte's younger brothers.

Marianne

One of Lotte's sisters.

Minister

The director of the Court for which Werther briefly works. He sympathizes with Werther, though feels that the young man needs to compromise his intensity from time to time.

Old M

Frau M.'s husband, a pleasant enough lower-class man who nevertheless manages his household very stingily.

Philip

One of two peasant boys whom Werther meets in Wahlheim. Werther draws a picture of Philip allowing his younger brother, Hans, to sit in his arms.

Prince ---

A member of royalty whom Werther accompanies and lives with for a short while after resigning from his court position.

S

The bailiff of Wahlheim and the father of Lotte and her siblings.

Selstadt

One of Werther's friends.

Sophy

Lotte's sister and the second-eldest sibling in the family.

V

"An open-hearted youth with pleasant features." Werther converses with this erudite young man, just out of university, in a somewhat condescending way. V. is very enthusiastic about the aesthetic and religious theories he has picked up in school; Werther, however, does not care for such things (though he is careful to show that he knows all about them).

W

A friend of Werther's.

Werther

A young bourgeois dilettante - intelligent but arrogant, artistic but unmotivated - who finds his world topsy-turvy after becoming infatuated with Lotte, a beautiful and good-natured woman who is engaged to the sensible and hard-working Albert. Werther goes through life in his blue frock coat and yellow waistcoat, conversing brilliantly (though rather contentiously) with all who will listen, ruminating on his memories as well as subjective philosophy, and increasingly despairing of life and fate. He has a pensive, outsider's position throughout the work: he loves to observe family life, but is somewhat estranged from his own mother; he wishes to be married to Lotte, but finds himself "just a friend." This estranged sensitivity, exacerbated by his unrequited passion, leads him to commit suicide.

Werther's mother

Werther's mother, who goes unnamed throughout the novel, never directly corresponds with her son. Instead, the two communicate obliquely through Wilhelm. Werther's mother provides financial support for her son, and their estrangement is never fully explained. Werther alludes late in the novel to his hatred for his mother's current place of residence. The unspoken tension between Werther and his mother subtly informs the novel.

Widow

A woman who lives in Wahlheim. Her peasant worker is in love with her.

Wilhelm

Werther's chief correspondent, and the addressee of nearly all of the letters that make up The Sorrows of Young Werther. From Werther's interactions with him, we can take Wilhelm to be a sober, sensible fellow - much like Albert - who is nevertheless sensitive to Werther's own more tumultuous character and a true friend. In order to get over his feelings for Lotte, Wilhelm encourages Werther to take a position in a legal capacity for a Count, advice that Werther follows only to resign in a huff and return to his impossible infatuation.

Woman of Wahlheim

The daughter of the schoolmaster, and the mother of Hans and Philip. Werther rests under her linden tree. Her husband is in Switzerland, trying to collect his inheritance from a cousin. Near the end of Werther, Werther learns that this family has met a tragic fate.

Pastor of St. ---

The pastor of a small village that Werther visits with Lotte. Werther looks back on his time with the pastor nostalgically.

Wife of the New Pastor of St. ---

"A foolish woman who pretends to erudition." She cuts down the walnut trees on her property and argues theology all day, cultivating the ire of the commoners of her village as well as that of Werther.