You are on page 1of 2

Patrick McEvoy-Halston English 376rEric Miller 27 January2005 Werther mentions his desireto expresshis feelings severaltimes in The

Sorrows of Young Werther. For instance,he stateshis desireto "breathe onto the paper in all its fullness and warmth what is so alive in you, so that it would mirror your soul as your soul is the mirror of God" (27).My guessis that Werther is expressing himself here, Goethe'sown need to express and that Werther seryesas a meansby which Goethe can expresshis own frustration and desires. Should Werther, then, be understoodas Goethe,as Goethe in a different realm? Or is he just a tool of his?
ec got'{ t[,..co.q{?.c

\-

You mentioned Nabokov'sideathat the main protagonistin a novel is like a periscope the authorcanuseto encounter, experience created to his world. Is WertherGoethe'speriscope? If he is thenhe mustbe the sort of tool which brings information to Goethe, which allows but him to remainsafelyremovedfrom, to belongto a different mediumthan,what is 'tiewed." In orderto be understood a periscope, as Wertherwould haveto be a sort of tool which funnelsbut
constrains, at the sametime filters experience, limits it, so thatt$ Goetheis lessaffectedby what he encounters his createduniverse. That is, is he would have to function as a device in which prevents Goethe from veering "too close to [his] t. . .] magic realm" (56). But Werther is anythingbut a cold piece of steel. He hardly can be imagined as an entity which filters experience;if anything, he intensifies it. The editor, however, might function as a tool Goethe
/ V could use to view Werther somewhat dispassionately. He espies Werther sympathetically, but,

Ct.{ c'J Q r qJ c c

organizing Werther's letters, he is about doing his professional duty. Moreover, he is removed temporally and geographically from Werther, who has already died before his letters were collected. But if the editor might serveas a periscope,might Goethehave neededto make him more

2 of a presence the later stages his novel because in of Goetheso closely identified himself with Werther? Perhaps, sincehe wasjust about to write of Werther's demise,he felt aneed to prepare
/ / a nest in some other character's psyche, someone who would help him buttress the possibly

C.'
5 ({

-)/ _\/. ,\,

J

negativeaspects imagining Werther's, that is, his own, demise? of I think you arguedthat since Goethe createdthe entirety of his fictional world, Goethe, much like God throughout his creation, is to be found throughout his own createduniverse. Your point (forgive me if I misunderstood you) is an interestingone-but one which leavesme
r7
c.

J

ct vl &

(-

e-

?
; {

troubled. Isn't it possiblethat someof his characters, rather than reflect aspects Goethe'sown of mind, are best understoodas people from the external universe whom Goethehas transplanted into his fictional creation? Might we seein Albert, for instance,not so much an aspectof Goethe himself but someoneGoethehas known and desiresto struggle with? Might Goetheexperience Werther's frustrationswhen thosesuch as Albert cannotappreciate Werther's point of view preciselybecause Albert somehowis the externalOther whom Goethehopeswill understand and appreciate him? Yes, I appreciate that many of the characters-particularly, impossiblypure, benevolerfr.otte-are \-/ projections from Goethe/Werther'sinner world, not phantomsfrom an

2J
)

-i C )
';{ \2( s,,

J

-,

&*c)
el

externalworld, but is it really an error to conceiveof someaspects his artistic creationas of external, as foreign to, different from, Goethe? Might Goethe localize himself within his created world, principally in his protagonist,Werther? In believing that an artist is capableof copylng reality without putting in anything of his own into it (32), is Werther/Goethefundamentally ignorant of how art works? I know the Postmodernanswer,but I'd prefer to know the truth.

N'
*s \$ LL " I -^ v ^' \J

o u{ nf)^ ,r

\t

\' \ * \e * . L

\ \

lJ -c r,c e r )y < ^

,-oq) b.o.s

e-\ca' t ^5,V e - \ c a rr ^ a l ,({'
,30

i"^."\! or 6": il.% \,*l

\Avpr\)rur

a - \ - \ , - -6 - Q a 'rl ^ e^

c" co\r

\ J a U$ W ,t1

\

^,