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MonkeyNotes-Steppenwolf by Hermann Hesse
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Hermine directs Haller to Maria, who embodies pure physical love. As suggested by her name, she alludes to and inverts the idea of the Virgin Mary. Being a woman of the streets, she is the embodiment of sensual pleasure with total detachment; as such, she is a reflection of the Immortals and a counterpart to the pure harmony of music. In this scene, her mission is to infuse Haller's sensually impoverished personality with a new and different awareness of self. In loving her, he begins to mix the spiritual with the detached physical, making himself into a more complete whole. Ironically, Maria is not a self-possessed person. Instead, she is a puppet to Hermine, who easily manipulates her. In turn, Hermine is a tool used by Pablo.

Pablo, the master magician and jazz artist, combines the functions of both Hermine and Maria. His calm, sensuous demeanor indicates a final unity of selves; in the end his sensuality is turned into the spirit of Mozart. Moreover, he transcends the sensual, physical, and spiritual realms, bringing a total reconciliation. In the end, Pablo becomes the final mirror.

The mirror image is very important throughout this section. When Haller first gazes into the mirror, he sees only his two selves, the artist and the Steppenwolf. As he begins to shed his wolfish self, he begins to see many other images of himself in the mirror, and these varying selves begin to act before his eyes, turning the looking glass into a three-dimensional stage. In this way, the mirror motif becomes a symbol of acting and the theatre, while retaining its function of reflecting in illusion the subject's appearance in life.


In the concluding phase of the Magic Theatre, Mozart appears in the mirror with his immortal strains of music in the background. He functions as an image denoting ultimate detachment. Mozart's laughter emphasizes Haller's need for levity and laughter, emotions that are difficult for a man torn between his artistic self and his wolfish self. In an effort to unite himself, Haller flies off to eternity with Mozart; but when he returns to the earth, he is crushed, literally and physically. He then faces his darkest self in a full-length mirror. Not liking what he sees, Haller smashes the looking-glass, which opens to the scene of Pablo and Hermine in the slumber of satisfied love. Incensed by what he sees, he withdraws his knife and reacts instantaneously. The magic stage is suddenly soiled with the blood of reality. After Hermine shivers and dies, Haller contemplates the cold beauty of her body, which seems to reflect the death cold silence of the universe. The silence, however, becomes for Haller a form of ethereal music, the music of Mozart and the Immortals. Appropriately, Mozart's immortal spirit returns to the scene.

In the final scene of the book, entitled "Harry's Execution," the master mirror functions as a supreme magician who shrinks Hermine into a toy figurine to be placed into Haller's pocket. The play of magic on which Pablo (turned Mozart) ends the book unites Haller and Steppenwolf forever.

Herman Hesse believed in the transfiguration of the "outsider," embodying all the contradictions of a schizophrenic civilization, into an ideal. Unfortunately, the pilgrimage to the ideal is a passage through a hall of mirrors and a descent into the "inferno of inner self." In this last part of the novel, Haller travels through that hall of mirrors, experiencing the turmoil of self, and emerges with a new self-awareness. He now understands the many personalities that are living within him.

Hesse became aware of the process of unifying different and opposing selves during his psychoanalysis under Dr. J.B. Lang and Dr. C.G. Jung. Haller's neurosis over his split self is more Jungian than Freudian. It is a general disenchantment rather than a problem of sexuality rooted in childhood, as a Freudian analyst would interpret. Hesse was also influenced by Eastern mysticism, which taught how to unify the various aspects within a man. Pablo, Hermine, and Maria work to break down the inhibitions and suppressed aggressions of Haller, the man-wolf, so that they can later unify him into a whole. Through the Magic Theater, they succeed. By experiencing the Magic Theatre, Haller is led to self- recognition and self-acceptance. He learns that life does not have to be lonely and desolate, but can be filled with laughter, like that of Mozart and the Immortals.

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