In The Sorrows of Young Werther, is young Werther considered an extremist in his views?  

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Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator| Certified Educator

According to author Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Werther of The Sorrows of Young Werther represents all "that is sick" in human emotionality. After seeing the results of "Werther-Fieber" ("Werther-Fever"), Goethe renounced the novel and the emotional romanticism it espoused. He distanced himself also from the Sturm and Drang movement and from the Romantic movement. Based on this, it is safe to say that, yes, Werther was an emotional extremist.

Goethe might argue that Werther was without "views" because "views" presuppose reason and Werther acted on unreasoned emotionalism. The fact that Goethe revealed that Werther was in part inspired by his own heated passion for Charlotte Buff and in part by the sad end of his friend Jerusalem, who committed suicide over unrequited love after having read Lessing's play Emilia Galotti, indicates that he was combining the most extreme feelings and actions he knew of to express his own unrequited love and extremism.

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The Sorrows of Young Werther

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