Werther and Self Deception

Romanticism was deeply interested in creating art and literature of suffering, pain and self-pity. With poets pining for a love long gone and dead and authors falling for unavailable people, it appears that romantics in literature were primarily concerned with self-injury and delusion. In Goethe's novel "The Sorrows of Young Werther," we find another romantic character fulfilling his tragic destiny by falling victim to extreme self-deception.

Werther's story may appear simple and even trite to some- a young man falls in love with a woman he can never be with and deludes himself into believing that she loves him too only to be severely disappointed in the end. When nothing is left to look forward to, Werther kills himself. Durkheim describes this type of suicide as egoistic suicide where a person kills himself to make other people feel sorry. "Egoistic suicide," Durkheim writes, "results from man's...
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