Elective Affinities

Baron Eduard and his second wife Charlotte enjoy a quiet, humdrum existence in their opulent castle, but when he invites his friend the Captain and she invites her niece Ottilie to stay with them, their lives are turned inside out as both hosts begin to feel attracted to their guests. Using one of the chemical theories of the time as a metaphor throughout the novel, Goethe juxtaposes social interactions with scientific principles and illustrates the typically Romantic concern of the individual coming to terms with society.