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MonkeyNotes-Steppenwolf by Hermann Hesse
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Harry has been living a nightmare. Torn between his two selves, he is almost on the verge of suicide. He is presented almost like a modern Dante, who has been going through the inferno. But unlike Dante, he has had no guide through his hellish existence. Now he meets his guide, Hermine. She will release in Haller his suppressed sensuality and lead him into further chaos.

It is obvious that Hermine is a worldly woman who makes her living on the streets. She is, therefore, capable of helping Haller to overcome his inhibitions and enjoy the pleasures and temptations of life. With her help, he will even learn to dance. Ironically, Hermine is almost a double or "shadow" of Steppenwolf for Haller. She represents the base side of life.


Haller's dream of Goethe is a significant part of this section of the novel. Before ascending to the values of order and education in the Magic Theatre, Haller has a foretaste of it in this dream. It begins with his waiting for an audience with Goethe. While he waits, he is disturbed by the appearance of a black scorpion. But when Goethe addresses him and smiles at him, he forgets the scorpion. Instead, Haller thinks about Goethe's gentle songs. He asks the writer how, in the midst of the despair of life, he is able to preach faith and optimism. Goethe replies that his long life and struggle against death has taught him not to take life too seriously. Goethe begins to laugh and dance, saying that he and the rest of the Immortals prefer levity to sadness. Goethe then shows Haller a miniature model of a woman's leg. Haller stretches out his hand to take it, but is suddenly afraid that it may be a scorpion. Goethe is amused at Haller's obvious conflict between desire and dread.

When he awakes, Hermine is in the room. Haller is happy to think that he has met Goethe in a dream and a wonderful girl in real life. He believes that she is the first person to understand him in a long time. Haller asks Hermine if she is religious. She replies that a person has to be free of the demands of money and time in order to be religious. It is a sophisticated thought for a person of her status in life. He realizes again that Hermine is like a mirror in which he can see himself.

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