Written in a literary period known as “storm and stress,” the presence of literal and emotional storms in The Sorrows of Young Werther stands out. Werther’s emotions come upon him like a storm, as though they are something larger than him, and something he is incapable of controlling. This happens when he first meets Lotte and becomes enraptured with her—his emotions become a tornado of giddy young love magnified by the actual storm that interrupts their dance. Afterwards, as Werther’s emotional storm builds, he becomes increasingly under its control, as though caught outside in a tempest. During the height of that fervor, the weather outside again comes to match Werther’s internal state, and a violent flood rips through the valley of Wahlheim. It takes with it many of the landmarks (including trees) that Werther associates with Lotte. The storm, then, parallels the havoc that Werther’s untoward emotions are wreaking on their friendship. He openly admits in this moment that he desires to succumb to the flood, to jump into it, but he knows that submission—seemingly either to the literal flood or to his emotive one—means death.
Storms Quotes in The Sorrows of Young Werther
You ask why the torrent of genius so rarely pours forth, so rarely floods and thunders and overwhelms your astonished soul?—Because, dear friends, on either bank dwell the cool, respectable gentlemen…
I was one of the most afraid myself, and in pretending to be brave, to stiffen the others' courage, I found my own courage