Big things are happening on TV Tropes! New admins, new designs, fewer ads, mobile versions, beta testing opportunities, thematic discovery engine, fun trope tools and toys, and much more - Learn how to help here and discuss here.
Werther had a love for Charlotte Such as words could never utter; Would you know how first he met her? She was cutting bread and butter...
Charlotte, having seen his body Borne before her on a shutter, Like a well-conducted person Went on cutting bread and butter.
—William Makepeace Thackeray,Sorrows of Werther
The Sorrows of Young Werther (Die Leiden des jungen Werthers) is a 1774 novel (revised in 1787) by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe about an emotional young man named Werther who falls madly in love with an young woman named Lotte, who is engaged to someone else. Werther gradually becomes more emotional and less mentally stable...The novel was very popular in its day, for what were probably the wrong reasons. It was later adapted into a popular opera (written 1887, first performed 1892) by the French composer Jules Massenet. Note that some of these tropes seem like they should be in YMMV, but even Goethe straight-out said that most of them applied; he was horrified, for example, that people were killing themselves in imitation of Werther.
It's All About Me: Werther's letters are all about how the events in the story make him feel, and he doesn't really seem interested in understanding things from Charlotte's or anyone else's point of view. He also never asks how Wilhelm is going.
Love Makes You Crazy: Heinrich, a character from late in the book who once worked for Charlotte's father, fell in love with her, and was driven mad by it to the point of having to be placed in an asylum.
Misaimed Fandom: invoked Many 18th-century readers admired Werther. An alarming number admired him so much that they committed suicide too.
Moral Guardians: Authorities were concerned over the "Werther effect" in which people started committing suicides based on the novel.
Multiple Endings: Friedrich Nicolai, an author, wrote an alternate ending to the novel called The Joys of Young Werther in which Werther's suicide is foiled, Lotte chooses him over Albert, and Werther eventually becomes a productive member of society. Goethe was not happy.
Promotion to Parent: Charlotte became the mother figure to her siblings after their mother passed away.
Red Oni, Blue Oni: The exceedingly passionate Werther is red to his rival in love Albert, who's very rational. Werther also contrasts with his correspondent Wilhelm; while we never see him, he tries to appease Werther's enthusiasm towards Charlotte.
Romanticism Versus Enlightenment: Lotte's fiancÚ Albert has typical Enlightenment attitudes. Werther is very Romantic, although the Romantic movement barely existed yet when the book was written.
Scrapbook Story: Mostly, it's letters from Werther to his unnamed friend, but near the end, as Werther's mental state starts to deteriorate, an 'editor' steps in to clarify a few points.
Unbuilt Trope: The nascent Romantic movement in literature arguably received its greatest impetus out of the aforementioned Misaimed Fandom.
Together in Death: Werther kills himself to achieve this with Charlotte, or so he claims.
Yandere: The servant in love with his mistress at first seems to be a very sweet, undemanding, honourable character. Later he tries to rape her and later yet, he murders the servant who replaced him in his position.