The Sorrows of Young Werther

Eulogies of Love in Symposium and The Sorrows of Young Werther

In Plato’s Symposium and Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s The Sorrows of Young Werther, the two protagonists are overcome by their love and dedicate an eulogy in the form of a speech or a series of letters to their beloved. The multitude of letters composed by Werther to Lotte is praised as one of the great loves in literary history worthy of inspiring a new trend of blue coats; while the drunken speech composed by Alcibiades to his love Socrates is deemed yet another “common love” dominated by nothing more than lust and passion. Despite seemingly irreconcilable differences between the two loves exhibited by Alcibiades and Werther, both eulogies delivered by the two men are ultimately testaments to love’s ability to free them from constrictions, inspire, elevate, and bless them with a livelier existence.

The power love possesses does not discriminate between common and celestial love as demonstrated by Alcibiades and Werther’s newfound ability to break the confinements that previously limited their actions and speech. Both Plato and Goethe uses a state of intoxication to describe the freedom of speaking and acting without the limiting constraints of internal and external social standards. Alcibiades admits that “truth comes from...

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