Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)


Modern Languages


Critics have not yet come to an agreement as to how much Goethe took from Voss's Luise for his Hermann und Dorothea: and how much credit we are justified in giving to Goethe's originality for his production. When Hermann und Dorothea first appeared, it was scorned by a great many readers as being a rather poor imitation of Luise. Now it is undoubtedly regarded as the better productions of the two. However many critics still consider it to be an imitation of Voss, although perhaps an improvement. Certainly, Goethe was inspired to the use of the hexameter, in the telling of his story, by Voss's work; there is not a doubt of this, as Goethe himself admits the fact without hesitancy. But I feel sure that in making an honest comparison of the two poems one can easily see that the younger poet is entirely original except, as I have said, in the matter of the verse-form. Goethe's poem contains many subtleties of character and really wonderful philosophies of life, that when one studies the two poems for comparative purposes, Luise becomes weak and colorless besides the masterpiece, Hermann und Dorothea.