Many writers were extremely influential cultural figures who helped transform not only literature but also the way people thought about the world. Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe was one of the most influential and important literary figures of the time, an author whose work had a profound impact on western literature. First, he made many changes in literary forms. During the Neoclassical era or Enlightenment era, authors had to follow certain rules and adhere to certain structural formats.
Goethe, however, did not follow these rules or use the accepted formats. Instead he had a more simple, sincere and natural way of expressing himself. All of these changes are reflected in his play Gotz von Berlichingen. As George Lewes states in his biography of Goethe, “this play scorned the fashionable literary correctness of the time. ” This play gained Goethe instant recognition because it was so unlike anything that had come before. This very influential piece is thought to have inaugurated the storm and stress movement in Germany, which was a literary rebellion against the principles of Neo-classical writing.
Goethe Also introduced and changed styles of writing. He popularized the novel as a more important literary form and introduced the novella or short novel. Another big contribution Goethe made to western literature was introducing the “Romantic Hero. ” The Enlightenment was a period where Balance, harmony, order, and moderation were valued as artistic and cultural ideals. Goethe, in his extremely popular novel The Sorrows of Young Werther written in 1774, created a romantic hero who represented just the opposite.
It is about a man named Werther whose hopeless love for a woman leads him to suicide, thus becoming the prototype of the Romantic hero: a very emotional person filled with unbridled passion. He was usually in love with someone, and would go to any length to be with her. He would not think before acting and his passion would blind him to all of the consequences. The Romantic Hero achieves nobility by following his passions no matter the cost. As original and influential a work as Young Werther is, it can not compare in importance to Goethe’s most famous and well-known piece, Faust.
Faust is considered one of the masterpieces of German and World literature and is still widely studied and read. He began it in his early twenties, and did not finish until the year of his death in 1832. Goethe’s play is based on Christopher Marlowe’s Faust, Which is about a man who makes a deal with the devil and in the end his greed and desire lead him to damnation. In Goethe’s version Faust is a scholar-magician who makes a pact with the devil in search of knowledge, promising to accept damnation when his lust for learning is satisfied.
However in Goethe’s version Faust is not sent to hell, but is rescued by God when his desire is proven limitless. Goethe’s Faust is not just a new version of an old legend, but also an allegory of human life and all of its consequences from his point of view. As Sarah Lawall writes in her biography of Goethe, “It emphasizes the rights of an individual to freedom of thought and to question the authority of the mind. ” In many ways Faust is a full confession of Goethe’s life and beliefs. The importance of Goethe as an author whose ideas influence the development of western literature cannot be overestimated.
With the publication of Gotz von Berlichingen he revolutionized writing, creating a new natural, simple, and sincere style. He popularized the novel and introduced the novella. In his groundbreaking Sorrows of Young Werther, he created the prototype for the romantic hero and changed societal ideals and values in the process. With Faust he created a masterpiece of world literature, which continues to influence our writing and our thinking to this day. Goethe is among one of the worlds most important and influential figure that helped transform human society through his writing.