The Sorrows of Young Werther

Storms Symbol Analysis

Storms Symbol Icon

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

The The Sorrows of Young Werther quotes below all refer to the symbol of Storms. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
The Heart vs. The Mind Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Penguin Classics edition of The Sorrows of Young Werther published in 1989.
Book One: May 26-30, 1771 Quotes

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…

Related Characters: Werther (speaker), Wilhelm
Related Symbols: Storms
Page Number: 33
Explanation and Analysis:

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Book One: June 16, 1771 Quotes

I was one of the most afraid myself, and in pretending to be brave, to stiffen the others' courage, I found my own courage

Related Characters: Lotte (Charlotte S.) (speaker), Werther
Related Symbols: Storms
Page Number: 43
Explanation and Analysis:

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Storms Symbol Timeline in The Sorrows of Young Werther

The timeline below shows where the symbol Storms appears in The Sorrows of Young Werther. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Book One: June 16, 1771
The Heart vs. The Mind Theme Icon
Self-Absorption of Youth Theme Icon
Upper Class and Lower Class Theme Icon
Women Theme Icon
At this point a storm, which had threatened in the distance since Lotte and Werther first met, finally breaks, forcing... (full context)
The Heart vs. The Mind Theme Icon
Women Theme Icon
...with Lotte. She confesses that she instigated the game because she was afraid of the storm and wanted to take her mind—and everyone else’s—off of it. The topic then switches to... (full context)
Book One: August 15-September 10, 1771
The Heart vs. The Mind Theme Icon
Upper Class and Lower Class Theme Icon
...him—he has begun to see it as a destructive force, not simply because there are storms in nature that lay waste to entire villages, but because even a simple walk through... (full context)
Book One: October 20, 1771-February 20, 1772
The Heart vs. The Mind Theme Icon
On the 20th of January, Werther finds himself in a small country inn, weathering a storm. He decides to write to Lotte to tell her about his new life as an... (full context)
Book Two: Editorial Interlude
The Heart vs. The Mind Theme Icon
Self-Absorption of Youth Theme Icon
Suicide Theme Icon
On December 11, a raging storm tears through Wahlheim, flooding the valley there. Werther watches the floodwaters from above and comes... (full context)