Quotes from Goethe’s  “The Sorrows of Young Werther”

At 23 Goethe wrote a book in 6 weeks that transformed his life from a wild reckless dreamer into one of the most profound sages that has ever lived.  His wisdom in 1774 is undeniable and inspiring!

“The human race is a monotonous affair. Most people spend the greatest part of their time working in order to live, and what little freedom remains so fills them with fear that they seek out any and every means to be rid of it.” 

— Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, 

“No one is willing to believe that adults too, like children, wander about this earth in a daze and, like children, do not know where they come from or where they are going, act as rarely as they do according to genuine motives, and are as thoroughly governed as they are by biscuits and cake and the rod.” 

— Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

“Is this the destiny of man? Is he only happy before he has acquired his reason or after he has lost it?” 

-Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

“The suffering may be moral or physical; and in my opinion it is just as absurd to call a man a coward who destroys himself, as to call a man a coward who dies of a malignant fever.”

– Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

“Every day I observe more and more the folly of judging of others by ourselves; and I have so much trouble with myself, and my own heart is in such constant agitation, that I am well content to let others pursue their own course, if they only allow me the same privilege.”

— Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

“In happy ignorance, I sighed for a world I did not know, where I hoped to find every pleasure and enjoyment which my heart could desire; and now, on my return from that wide world… how many disappointed hopes and unsuccessful plans have I brought back!” 

— Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

“He values my understanding and talents more highly than my heart, but I am proud of the latter only. It is the sole source of everything of our strength, happiness, and misery. All the knowledge I possess every one else can acquire, but my heart is exclusively my own.” 

— Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

“We often feel that we lack something, and seem to see that very quality in someone else, promptly attributing all our own qualities to him too, and a kind of ideal contentment as well. And so the happy mortal is a model of complete perfection–which we have ourselves created.” 

— Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

“I examine my own being, and find there a world, but a world rather of imagination and dim desires, than of distinctness and living power. Then everything swims before my senses, and I smile and dream while pursuing my way through the world.” 

-Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

“Must it ever be thus-that the source of our happiness must also be the fountain of our misery? The full and ardent sentiment which animated my heart with the love of nature, overwhelming me with a torrent of delight, and which brought all paradise before me, has now become an insupportable torment, a demon which perpetually pursues and harasses me.” 

— Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

“A dim vastness is spread before our souls; the perceptions of our mind are as obscure as those of our vision… But alas! when we have attained our object, when the distant ‘there’ becomes the present ‘here,’ all is changed; we are as poor and circumscribed as ever, and our souls still languish for unattainable happiness.” 

— Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

“I am amazed to see how deliberately I have entangled myself step by step. To have seen my position so clearly, and yet to have acted so like a child!” 

— Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

“It is in vain that a man of sound mind and cool temper understands the condition of such a wretched being… He can no more communicate his own wisdom to him than a healthy man can instil his strength into the invalid by whose bedside he is seated.” 

— Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

“When I consider the narrow limits within which our active and inquiring faculties are confined; when I see how all our energies are wasted in providing for mere necessities, which again have no further end than to prolong a wretched existence; and then that all our satisfaction concerning certain subjects of investigation ends in nothing better than a passive resignation… when I consider all this… I am silent.” 

— Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

“Since you know me and my destiny only too well, you probably also know what attracts me to all unfortunate people.” 

— Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

“How many kings are governed by their ministers, how many ministers by their secretaries? Who, in such cases, is really the chief?” 

— Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

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