The Sorrows of Young Werther

Trees Symbol Analysis

Trees Symbol Icon

Werther uses trees both as landmarks for countryside navigation and as cues for memory, with the trees serving as mementos of things past. When Werther and Lotte wander with the Vicar of S., their conversation centers around the trees under which they sit: who planted them, how old they are, who loved them most. Picking fruit from the trees in Lotte’s orchard serves as another memory fondly wrapped up in trees. Though Werther attempts to differentiate between tree species, he nevertheless winds up describing trees as though they were all the same, declaring them all “thick and mighty” and beautiful. To him, they are images of strength and beauty that transcend time. In wrapping up his memories of idyllic times with Lotte with this way of thinking about trees, he tries to align those memories in the same solid light, in that special way that trees seem ageless. His feelings for Lotte, and their relationship, are to Werther as timeless and beautiful as the trees themselves. Thus, when the Vicar’s Wife cuts down the trees Werther and Lotte sat under or when a willow under which they both sat is lost to the flood, he sees it as an attack on his image of their love and is cast into despair.

Trees Quotes in The Sorrows of Young Werther

The The Sorrows of Young Werther quotes below all refer to the symbol of Trees. 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: June 19-July 6, 1771 Quotes

We don't know who planted that one. Some say it was one vicar and some say another. But the younger one over there is as old as my wife, fifty years old come October. Her father planted it in the morning and that same evening she was born.

Related Characters: Vicar of S. (speaker), Werther, Lotte (Charlotte S.)
Related Symbols: Trees
Page Number: 47
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

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Trees Symbol Timeline in The Sorrows of Young Werther

The timeline below shows where the symbol Trees appears in The Sorrows of Young Werther. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Book One: May 4-13, 1771
Upper Class and Lower Class Theme Icon
...proper, but quickly falls in love with the rural area around it. He enjoys the trees especially, and he attributes the property’s natural beauty to the gardening skill of its previous... (full context)
Book One: June 19-July 6, 1771
The Heart vs. The Mind Theme Icon
Upper Class and Lower Class Theme Icon
...took great pleasure in talking with the young people, especially about the grove of walnut trees. He had distinct memories of many of them being planted, and most of these memories... (full context)
Book One: August 15-September 10, 1771
The Heart vs. The Mind Theme Icon
Upper Class and Lower Class Theme Icon
...meditating on the state of nature in Wahlheim, returning often to the “thick and mighty” trees of the area. Such scenes are, he says, his only remaining source of comfort. Lately,... (full context)
The Heart vs. The Mind Theme Icon
Self-Absorption of Youth Theme Icon
Upper Class and Lower Class Theme Icon
...met Werther. Werther compares the friendship between the three to a blossom on a fruit tree. Such blossoms are plentiful but only a select few end up becoming fruit. Similarly, many... (full context)
Book Two: June 11-November 3, 1772
The Heart vs. The Mind Theme Icon
Self-Absorption of Youth Theme Icon
In his next letter, Werther notes that the trees have begun changing to their fall colors. It’s a change he sees happening in himself,... (full context)
The Heart vs. The Mind Theme Icon
Self-Absorption of Youth Theme Icon
Later, Werther finds that the walnut trees so beloved by the Vicar of S. have been cut down by order of the... (full context)
Book Two: Editorial Interlude
The Heart vs. The Mind Theme Icon
Self-Absorption of Youth Theme Icon
Suicide Theme Icon
...was not yet his time. During the storm, he witnesses the destruction of the willow tree under which he and Lotte once sat. (full context)