What metaphor does love and lust play in this text?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Love and lust are not so much metaphors in The Sorrows of Young Werther as they are the central themes of the book. It is Werther's unrequited love for Lotte, after all, that consumes him, leading to his ultimate suicide. On the one hand, Goethe is interested in the power...

Unlock
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial

Love and lust are not so much metaphors in The Sorrows of Young Werther as they are the central themes of the book. It is Werther's unrequited love for Lotte, after all, that consumes him, leading to his ultimate suicide. On the one hand, Goethe is interested in the power of these emotions to create and destroy. Through his letters, the reader watches as Werther gradually loses touch with reality, torn apart by the forces of love. On the other hand, the reader is aware that Werther idealizes Lotte. While she is beautiful and undoubtably cares for Werther, it is difficult to shake the feeling that she is leading him on, that she enjoys his attention to the point that she literally puts him in mortal danger by playing on his emotions. When Lotte and Albert, after their marriage, essentially keep him at arms length, he is doomed, especially after Lotte tells him she will not see him anymore. So rather than really being metaphorical, love and lust are portrayed as elemental forces that, when not allowed to be released (as Werther's never really can be), are destructive. Goethe's fascination with the power of these emotions was typical of the Romantic genre that he helped to spawn.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team