The Sorrows of Young Werther

This study guide will help you analyze the novel The Sorrows of Young Werther (1774) by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. You can also find a summary of the text, as well as inspiration for interpreting it and putting it into perspective

Presentation of the text

Title: The Sorrows of Young Werther (1774)
Author: Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Genre: Novel

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749 – 1832) was a German poet, novelist, playwright, scientist, and politician. Goethe is regarded as the greatest and most influential German writer. His most famous works include the tragic two-part play Faust and the novel The Sorrows of Young Werther. The latter gained him enormous fame as a writer at the age of 25. Right after it was published the novel made headlines for driving young heartbroken people to suicide, following Werther’s example.


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A total of 92 letters are printed, which vary greatly in length. Sometimes they are several pages long, sometimes only a few lines. The external form and especially the length of the letters are always related to Werther's state of mind, and the letters are almost exclusively addressed to Wilhelm. 

In the first month of his stay, he wrote letters very regularly, addressed to his friend at intervals of one to six days. When he met Lotte at the beginning of June 1771, there was a break of more than two weeks, and even then he wrote only a few letters in that month. Only in the following two months do his letters become more regular again. In September 1771, Werther's first stay in Walheim ends and with it so does the first book. 

Werther's stay in the city of D— is due to his new job, which he takes up with an ambassador. Since he...

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The Sorrows of Young Werther

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