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Word Count: 2,463
In Goethes Sorrows of Young Werther Werther compares himself with the suitors from Homers Odyssey At first his comparison seems only to be an ironic parallel Like other instances where Werther is over-dramatic and silly in his grand metaphors it is natural to laugh at the comparison take little notice and continue reading But in this case the comparison has several layers of depth since Charlotte too has much in common with another Homerian character Penelope Charlottes character resonates with Penelopes because they share many roles both play the nurturing mother the loyal wife And paradoxically they play these roles of the mother and wife while simultaneously acting as unconscious sirens Because both Charlottes and Werthers lives are fashioned so closely to Penelopes and the suitors Werthers relationship with Charlotte also parallels the suitors treatment by Penelope he is destroyed by his love for her Upon first reading Werthers comparison of himself and the suitors from The Odyssey seems to just be ironic a device that Goethe uses to create humor Soon after meeting Charlotte for the first time Werther describes how gathering sugar peas and cooking them helps him vividly recall the illustrious suitors of Penelope killing dressing and roasting their own oxen and swine The first example of irony here is that he casts opposite things as being very similar he compares pea-gathering to slaughtering wild animals growing ones vegetables to stealing another mans property and gently stirring peas in butter to dressing and roasting meat Another example of irony comes when Werther comments Nothing fills me with a more pure and genuine happiness that those traits of patriarchal life which thank Heaven I can imitate without affectation This is ironic because it is obvious from his discussion of picking and cooking peas that Werther is living a matriarchal life few nineteenth century Germans would consider cooking vegetables to be manly Also it is ironic that Werther would even consider making
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