In The Sorrows of Young Werther, how does Miss B-- fall under the pressures of society?Explian.

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Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Goethe's The Sorrows of Young Werther, Werther has been invited to dine with Count O--, who likes and befriends Werther. It just so happens that later that same evening, the Count has an assembly scheduled, which in that time period typically referred to a gathering for a social occasion, possibly dancing. Since Werther is a Subaltern, a commissioned military officer below the rank of Captain, he doesn't have a high enough social standing to socialize with the level of society assembled at the Count's home after dinner, though the Count, being no respecter of rank, entertains him privately at dinner. In any event, as the ladies of high social class gathered, they made a fuss about this socially inferior young man "gate crashing," and he is invited by Count O-- to escort himself out.

Miss B-- was part of the assembled personages and she perceived what Werther was blind to, that a storm was brewing regarding his presence. Miss B-- felt trapped between her friendship for Werther and her social duties and her obligation to her parents. As a result she became tongue-tied and couldn't even warn Werther of the rising storm so that he could make a speedy and gracious exit, rather than be the subject of social gossip for his wanton lack of good taste and breeding and his insult to good company. The next day, at home, Miss B-- was scolded soundly for her conversation with Werther but was too afraid to do anything but hold her tongue. It was in this way that Miss B-- fell under the pressures of society: She couldn't stand up for her friend and she couldn't later even defend his good name and unintentional oversight.

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The Sorrows of Young Werther

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