Part of Goethe’s intention in Hermann und Dorothea is to awaken in the reader a disturbing sense of discrepancy between form and content. Systematic, statistically controlled analysis of the poem’s meter, along with a treatment of specific Homeric allusions in the text, leads to this conclusion, also supported by less rigorous but no less valid interpretive arguments. This discrepancy, moreover, is left unresolved, creating a feeling of pervasive irony, but not in the sense of satire or mockery. The reader is encouraged to adopt a superior critical perspective toward the bourgeois values in the poem, but, in that this perspective itself becomes an object of irony, he is also invited to affirm such values. Although this contradiction, like the tension between form and content, is never resolved, it can be understood as expressing an idea of the historical need for bourgeois stability, however banal, in the period depicted.