“Sometimes I don’t understand how another can love her, is allowed to love her, since I love her so completely myself, so intensely, so fully, grasp nothing, know nothing, have nothing but her!”
The Sorrows of Young Werther (Die Leiden des jungen Werthers) is an epistolary novel written by Johann Wolfang von Goethe, simply known as Goethe. It is Goethe’s first novel and it was published anonymously in 1774. The reader discovers the story through Werther’s letters to his friend Wilhem. It tells the story of Werther and more precisely his torments. He indeed fully loves a woman whose name is Charlotte but she is already engaged with another man named Albert. Consequently, Charlotte only sees Werther as a friend and it makes him suffer. Finally, Werther decides to commit suicide.
You have to know that this story is partly inspired by real facts. Goethe was (at one time of his life) in love with a woman named Charlotte but she was promised to another man, Kestner. Her mother was dead and that’s why she had to look after her twelve little brothers and sisters. This is also the case of Charlotte in the book. Moreover the suicide in the end of The Sorrows of Young Werther was inspired by the act of a friend of the author who killed himself because of an unhappy love affair.
In addition this novel caused many reactions. It has been judged immoral by the authorities because it was supposed to “promote” suicide so sales of this book were forbidden. But it has probably on the contrary push people to read it. It indeed has had a huge success. We called this “movement” of reactions the “Werther Fever”: some designers realised the clothes which were described in this novel; perfumes, crockery and varied objects were created because of it. A lot of books inspired by The Sorrows of Young Werther were published: sequels, imitations or even parodies. But the most important to memorize is that it also provoked a “wave” of suicides. What is called the “Werther effect” in sociology is the fact that some people killed themselves afterward someone else did.