Captain becomes Major
The scene (left) from Elective Affinities P1:C4 where Captain explains "elective affinity” to Edward and Charlotte, who later, in P1:C14, receives a letter of offer to “become” a Major, after which, toward the end of the story, in P2:C14, Charlotte agrees to receive him for the prospect of marriage.
In hmolscience, becoming, as compared to “being”, refers to []

In 1809, Goethe, in his Elective Affinities, situated the subtle character transformation according to which Charlotte only became flexible, i.e. "willing" to break her marriage bond (divorce) with Edward, in respect to the approaches of the Captain, who desired to marry her, "after" he became a Major. [1] The truncated version of this becoming a major transformation is explained by Joseph O’Leary (2005): [2]

Section 2: The double adultery:
The two couples, thrown together as in a laboratory vessel, form new attachments. Eduard's passion for Ottilie grows like wildfire. At a foundation-laying ceremony on Charlotte's birthday he throws a glass in the air but it is not smashed; it is inscribed with the letters E and O which he takes as an omen. The visit of an adulterous couple, the Count and the Baroness, creates a sense of moral disorder. Eduard and Charlotte make love while thinking of Ottilie and the Captain respectively; the next day Edward embraces Ottilie, Charlotte the Captain.

Section 3: Departure of the two men:
Charlotte tries to restore things to normal. On Ottilie's birthday the Captain saves a boy from drowning. Eduard ignores the general commotion and puts on the fireworks display for Ottilie alone. The Captain leaves. Promising Charlotte that he will try to cure his passion, Eduard retires to a smaller residence, having ensured that Ottilie will stay on, and then joins the army. Charlotte reassures the ex-clergyman Mittler that her marriage is not doomed, for she is pregnant.

Section 5: The re-emergence of the fateful relationships:
After the visit of Ottilie's tutor, Charlotte gives birth to a boy who resembles Ottilie and the Captain. A visiting English Lord tells a story which may suggest that Charlotte and the Captain were lovers in the past. More Romantic fads: Ottilie reveals a capacity for water-divining; Charlotte refuses the Lord's offer to cure Ottilie's headache by magnetism. Eduard tells the Captain (now a Major) that his survival in battle means that Ottilie is his. He will divorce Charlotte and the Captain can marry her. This will restore all-round harmony.

(add discussion)

See also
‚óŹ Drive-thru paradox

1. (a) Goethe, Johann. (1809). Elective Affinities: Illustrated, Annotated, and Decoded (editor: Libb Thims). Publisher, 2013.
(b) O’Leary, Joseph S. (2005). “Goethe in ‘The Golden Bowl’”, Essays on Literary and Theological Themes, Jun 22.

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