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
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.