Walheim (vahl-HIM). Small town in Germany’s Rhineland-Pfalz region. Near this town is an idyllic country village that enables the novel’s young protagonist, Werther, to forget his romantic disappointments. There, he can languish in the hills, amid streams and flowers, and enjoy the Godliness of peasant life, which he extols in the letters that make up this epistolary novel. Werther expresses his passion for nature, his admiration of natural country folk and simplistic living, and his overflowing emotions for his new obsession, Lotte, about whose selfless nature he raves. This edenic setting is, however, spoiled by the entry of a rival for Lotte’s affections, Albert—a rational, stable young man, who is the antithesis of Werther, who follows the lovers on walks, reads Ossian’s love poetry with Lotte, and weeps for her daily.
When a more melancholic Werther returns to Walheim to renew his pursuit of Lotte after a year’s absence, he finds her married to Albert. In this peaceful domain, he makes his ultimate tragic decision to end his life, his misery, and his ties to bourgeois society.
*Weimar (VI-mar). City in Thuringia in central Germany where Werther takes a position in the government civil service. However, his inability to shake off his gloom about his romantic disappointment combines with his repugnance at his superior’s class snobbery, and he resigns after only five months.
Werther’s hometown. Unnamed town to which Werther returns after leaving Weimar. As he nears the town, he recollects pleasant boyhood experiences in the surrounding mountains, under the linden tree, and over the valley. As Weimar represents conventionality and artificiality, Werther’s hometown signifies naturalism and individualism. Werther later wanders to a rich young prince’s hunting lodge, where he stays for a short period before deciding to return to Walheim.