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MonkeyNotes-Steppenwolf by Hermann Hesse
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A dazzling poster flashes before Haller's eyes. It proclaims, "Marvelous taming of Steppenwolf." Haller watches the master tamer with great intensity and responds, like a dog, to every call and crack of the whip. At the appropriate command, he goes down on his knees, plays dead and apes his master. He carries things in a basket in his mouth. Then the master becomes submissive, allowing Haller, the wolf, to dominate and command him. He submits to every humiliation, behaving like an animal himself. He even eats flesh and drinks blood from a living animal. Haller is horrified and goes out. He can feel the taste of both blood and chocolate in his mouth. Both are equally horrid.

Haller next chooses the door that says, "All girls are yours." Inside, he sees himself as a boy of fifteen or sixteen. He is well educated, with a complete knowledge of Greek and Latin poetry. He is also filled with ambition and fancies of becoming an artist. His deepest emotions, however, are a burning flame of love and an intense desire for sex. Hermine then enters. Suddenly Haller wants sexual fulfillment with her in reality, not in this dream-like fantasy. What he gets is a series of women to give him all the love he has missed in his past. Some of them are easily taken by storm; others must be wooed and won over gradually. Some of the women have remarkable dark-brown eyes and flaxen hair. Others are Chinese, wearing glassy smiles. The women constantly come and go. Haller realizes he is amidst love, sex, charm, and danger. He looks back on his life and realizes how he has lived a lonely, loveless existence; he regrets the missed opportunities. When Haller looks in the mirror again, he sees a beautiful wolf as tall as himself.


The inscription on the next door reads, "How one kills for love." He remembers with anguish that Hermine has told him that her last command will be to kill her. He puts his hand in his pocket to rearrange the pieces, hoping to find a way out of the horror. When he pulls his hand out, he is holding a knife. He runs in mortal fear and sees another mirror. First there is an image of Steppenwolf and then of Haller, waiting for death.

Suddenly Haller hears the music of Mozart, accompanied by laughter. Mozart himself then appears, and together they watch a scene in which Brahms and Wagner are doomed to wander amongst all the superfluous notes in their music. Mozart explains that the scene is symbolic of the Christian doctrines that state that sinful people are doomed to penance and purgatory before their souls can be redeemed for eternal peace. Mozart laughs at Haller's awareness of his past sins. The immortal musician then flies off, while Haller loses consciousness for a period of time. When Haller regains consciousness, he feels dejected about his old and his new self. In frustration, he kicks his mirror image to pieces.

When Haller opens the last door in the passage, he finds Hermine and Pablo; they are naked and asleep in each other's arms. In a fit of jealousy, he takes the knife and stabs Hermine. Feeling confused, he watches as Pablo covers her naked body before he departs. Bewildered by his own brutality, he watches as Hermine's body shudders. Her movement reminds him of music and his poem about the Immortals. Mozart enters the scene and sets up a radio; it begins to play great music, much distorted by the poor reception. Mozart turns to Haller and again laughs at his anger. He then compares the ugly sound coming from the radio to the sordid reality of life. He adds, however, that the true spirit of music or the true spirit of life can never be totally destroyed.

Haller tries to defend his stabbing of Hermine, stating that he has fulfilled her last wish. Mozart laughs at his explanation. Haller then remembers his own thoughts of death. Now he is willing to die as a punishment for the murder of Hermine. As he has this thought, another notice appears; it reads, "Harry's Execution." He learns that he has been condemned to live until he has learned to really laugh. All around him, he hears the great sound of the world laughing at him. At the same time he watches as Mozart suddenly becomes Pablo. Pablo reproaches Haller for having brought reality into the imaginative world of the Magic Theatre. At the same time, Hermine shrinks into a toy figure. The novel ends with Haller's resolve that one day he will learn to laugh.

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