The Sorrows of Young Werther

Existential Statements in The Sorrows of Young Werther

It is presumable that the main character of Goethe's The Sorrows of Young Werther is a man from whose thoughts we can glean wise and important statements about life. Throughout many of the passages, Werther offers us his unique perspective on various elements of living including survival, freedom, mortality and moral outlook. Mainly, he is speaking to his dear friend Wilhelm, and so it is clear that these are personal letters containing deep thoughts and feelings. However, contradictions arise in the letters that will be examined. I therefore contend that, although much of what he says is eloquent and thought-provoking, it does not all necessarily constitute a series of wise life lessons. Perhaps there is an available wealth of truths in what Werther says, but whatever life lessons he imparts come not only from what he thinks but how and to whom he presents these ideas, and in what ways he applies them to his own life.

He speaks in great detail about how he views the rest of human existence. This outlook is not necessarily positive; in fact, he is quite critical of the people he encounters. In the letter from May 17th, Werther writes, "The human race is but a monotonous affair. Most of them labour the greater part of...

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