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Steppenwolf is the name given by Haller to the "evil" side of him. All that is wild, instinctive and unruly in him is attributed to Steppenwolf, meaning a wolf from the steppes. Haller believes that he must keep this part of himself in check and constantly strives to do so. As a result, Steppenwolf cannot live in peace, for Haller is repeatedly trying to make this wolfish self live in harmony with the artistic, noble side of Haller.
The conflict between Steppenwolf and the more human side of Haller makes him miserable. The Steppenwolf in him leads him to seek immediate relief in momentary sensual pleasures and other intense, emotional experiences. It also leads him to contemplate suicide. In the Magic Theater, Pablo teaches Haller that he must slay the Steppenwolf and accept that he possesses many differing selves. Only then will he be able to relax, laugh, and enjoy life.
Hermine is a beautiful and intelligent courtesan who saves Haller from extreme dejection. She introduces Haller to the lighter side of life, chiding him for not having learned to dance and teaching him to do so. She also teaches him the meaning of passion and introduces him to Pablo and Maria. Hermine first appears as a realistic character, but during the ecstasy of the Masked Ball and the Magic Theater, she becomes a figure of poetic imagination with her function becoming symbolic.
Hermine is a strong personality, demanding total obedience. She brings out new sides of Haller's personality, for she has the capacity to make him come out of his inhibitions. As a result, Haller becomes totally dependent on her and believes that she treats him in the way that is best for him. At her command he indulges in activities which he had hitherto despised.
Hermine's intelligence is displayed in her sophisticated arguments. Her philosophical utterances are really quite surprising for a woman of her background and profession. Like Haller, she has a vision of the Immortals; therefore, he has a spiritual attraction to her. As a result, Haller cannot indulge in sexual love with Hermine. She sends Maria to him for the purpose. Ironically, Hermine is also Maria's lover, as well as Pablo's. She has learned total emotional detachment, which Haller is striving to reach. Unfortunately, her detachment does not give her peace. She has a very strong death wish and tells Haller in their early relationship that she is commanding him to kill her out of love for her. In the Magic Theater, Haller stabs her with his knife when he sees her in Pablo's arms. When her body later shrinks into a figurine that Haller can put in his pocket, the reader realizes that she has changed from a real being into a figment of Haller's poetic imagination.
Pablo is a charming jazz musician skilled in the sensuous arts and in playing the saxophone. Although Haller recognizes that he is not an intellectual, he respects Pablo's views on life and allows him to become his teacher. From Pablo, he learns to accept the diversity of personalities within himself and to participate in the full enjoyment of life. He even learns to appreciate the value of Pablo's jazz music that he has always scorned as meaningless in comparison to classical music.
Pablo, the master magician and jazz artist, combines the functions of both Hermine and Maria in the novel. Able to live with ultimate detachment, he becomes the masculine representative of sensuality, just as Maria is its female representative. Although he is Hermine's lover, he casually suggests to Haller that the two of them have a love orgy with Maria. His cacophonous saxophone music also becomes the perfect expression of his sensuality.
Pablo serves as Haller's guide through the Magic Theater. During the journey, Pablo symbolically merges into Mozart, becoming one of Haller's immortals. He then becomes a mirror for Haller in order to teach him how to slay the Steppenwolf, to laugh, and to enjoy life. By the end of the book, Haller has become a new man, largely due to the efforts of Pablo.