Upon reading Herman Hesse's Steppenwolf, one cannot help noticing its large number of references to childhood. Youth, or a "childlike" state, is mentioned in the Treatise, in connection with Dionysian pleasures, in reference to Hermine, and in multiple other contexts. The ubiquity of this motif can be explained by the deep symbolic importance of childhood to Steppenwolf's protagonist, Harry Haller. Although his own young life appears to have been rather joyless, Harry holds up in his mind an ideal childhood to which he seeks, in various ways, to return. "Childhood," to Haller, embodies certain qualities he presently lacks: escape from the seriousness of the world, the treatment of life with eagerness and joyful abandon, and indiscriminate love. Thinking of Harry's wish for a "return to innocence" helps readers of Steppenwolf better understand some of the protagonist's motivations and his reactions to the people around him. It helps explain, among other things, his gravitation toward the "All girls are yours" door in the magic theater, his growing eagerness for Dionysian pleasures, and his attraction to Hermine (and similarly, to Maria and Pablo.) Through all of these venues, Harry finds the temporary respite he is looking for; therefore, to him, issues of love and pleasure (in many instances, sexual pleasure) are inexorably entangled with the idea of childhood.
The presence of the "All girls are yours" scene is perhaps the most direct manifestation of Harry Haller's mental connection between love and youth. It is interesting to note how many other scenes could have stood in place of this one. Even if he had limited himself to tableaux of "young Harry," Haller could...
... middle of paper ...
...into a complete picture of his soul. Thus, readers may certainly approach Harry's psyche from the "child" angle when trying to rationalize his thoughts and actions; they must simply realize, when considering this side of Harry, that there are other facets to his personality, and think of this interpretation as just one step toward understanding him as a whole.
Flaxman, Seymour L. "Der Steppenwolf: Hesse's Portrait of the Intellectual."
Contemporary Literary Criticism. Ed. Sharon Gunton. Vol. 17. Detroit:
Gale Research Company, 1981. 196-7.
Hesse, Hermann. Steppenwolf. Trans. Joseph Mileck. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1929.
Ziolkowski, Theodore. from The Novels of Herman Hesse. Contemporary
Literary Criticism. Ed. Carolyn Riley. Vol. 1. Detroit: Gale Research
Company, 1973. 145-6.
Need Writing Help?
Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.Check your paper »
- Perception Of The Bourgeoisie in Steppenwolf Hermann Hesse's Steppenwolf presents a paradoxical picture of the bourgeoisie. The main character, Harry Haller, acknowledges his bourgeois upbringing and frequently has a bourgeois view about various aspects of society; however, at the same time, he condemns the bourgeois lifestyle and all that it represents because of his perceived alienation from it. The bourgeoisie itself is represented in many different lights in Steppenwolf. The first representation is through the character of Haller's landlady's nephew.... [tags: Hesse Steppenwolf Essays]
3436 words (9.8 pages)
- Steppenwolf's Decision to Live In the novel, Steppenwolf by Herman Hesse, the main character, the Steppenwolf, considers committing suicide. He tries to justify taking his life with religious and philosophical rationales, but in the argument he finds that his life is worth living and suicide not a logical option. Sadly though, the novel provides little evidence beyond the Steppenwolf's own feelings as to why he cannot commit suicide. It is the intent of this paper, with some religious and philosophical references, to shed light on the reasoning behind the Steppenwolf's decision to live.... [tags: Steppenwolf]
1238 words (3.5 pages)
- The Transformation of Harry Haller in Steppenwolf A "dazzling" line "flashes" before Harry Haller's eyes (Hesse 194). It says, "Marvelous Taming of the Steppenwolf" (194). By this statement, one must realize Hermann Hesse's final goal for his character of Harry Haller. One also should note that all of this "taming" and these other wild events are taking place in the psyche of Harry Haller, not in reality. Hesse draws on the ideas of his generation's psychologists, such as Carl Jung, to guide Harry Haller's transformation.... [tags: Steppenwolf Essays]
1252 words (3.6 pages)
- The book tells us about Harry Heller, one different guy, with "Wolf nature" as the treat of Steppenwolf says; this treat was received by Harry from an unknown person. Everything begins when Harry Haller arrives to a room he'd rented. Harry leaves the room, gives a walk and discover some ads that he considered interesting, for example the magic theater entrance, with the not for everyone legend. Back to his room, he crosses a street and sees a guy carrying an advertisement of the same theater and a box that Harry wants to buy; the guy gives him a brochure and leaves.... [tags: Steppenwolf Hesse]
841 words (2.4 pages)
- Steppenwolf : The Disintegration of Harry Haller as it Relates to Music Among the many themes present in Hermann Hesse's 1927 novel Steppenwolf, two stand out as basic threads around which the story is constructed: the isolated nature of the artist and the duality of existence (Benét 471). Harry Haller, the protagonist of the novel, is portrayed as an outsider to society and to modern life; he must struggle with his own outmoded ideals and bestiality to embrace humanity and reality.... [tags: Steppenwolf Essays]
2365 words (6.8 pages)
- Man's Struggle with His Identity in Steppenwolf "The Christian resolve to find the world ugly and bad has made the world ugly and bad." These are the words of Friedrich Nietzsche, among the most influential philosophers of the modern era and one who has exerted an incontrovertible influence on many German authors, including Hermann Hesse. That Hesse should feel drawn to a figure so prominent in the German consciousness is not suprising, that he should do so in spite of the religious zeal of his family seems almost heretical.... [tags: Hesse Steppenwolf Essays]
2038 words (5.8 pages)
- ... Haller then, recognizing the constellation of the world due to the outcome of the war, synergizes with Gustav in the vicious “jolly hunting” trip and gradually individuate the trickster archetype into his personality through the means of killing and taking joy from the doom of others. Meanwhile, the trickster within the two jolly hunters grows too large and transforms itself into a heinous prank of worldly destruction. Much despising living and the world that has granted him to live, Gustav resolves to bring the world to an end: But granting that the conception of duty is no longer known to me, I still know the conception of guilt – perhaps they are the same thing.... [tags: Hermann Hesse novel analysis]
1205 words (3.4 pages)
- Suleima Gomez Ms. Crawford Comp 1 September, 12 2016 Crucial Childhoods A person’s childhood years are crucial when it comes to the development of behavior, success, and parenting skills as an adult, because they are the foundation on which these ideas are built. As children, people are taught basic tasks such as eating with a spoon, speaking, putting socks on in the morning, and walking . These tasks escalate into more important lessons like manners, how curse words are inappropriate to use in public, and learning how to express one’s emotions.... [tags: Childhood, Parenting, Developmental psychology]
713 words (2 pages)
- The Importance of Cooking in Ecology of a Cracker Childhood Janisse Ray wrote the book, "Ecology of a Cracker Childhood." In the story, the author describes how she grew up, the influences that her family history, culture, and nature had on her, and how she is an individual as well as part of a whole. The memory that I believe gives a very personal insight into the author's identity details her mother's down home, southern cooking and the imprints, that her cooking impressed on her.... [tags: Ecology Cracker Childhood]
996 words (2.8 pages)
- Steppenwolf Steppenwolf opens with a preface by a young businessman, who introduces a sheaf of notes left behind by a lodger in his attic rooms several years before. This young man, the landlady's nephew, describes the eccentric lodger, Harry Haller, who called himself a Steppenwolf, meaning in German a wolf of the steppes, or plains. The narrator finds this an odd but apt description of the shy, lonely wanderer who revealed little about himself but left a haunting memory. The preface recounts Harry's arrival and the narrator's several encounters with him- on the stairs, at a concert and an art lecture, and in a tavern.... [tags: Free Essays]
408 words (1.2 pages)
- The Transformation of Harry Haller in Steppenwolf
- Steppenwolf : The Disintegration of Harry Haller as it Relates to Music
- Essay on Exploring Death in Death in Venice
- Essay on Art as a Reflection of Life in Death in Venice
- Essay on Visconti's Interpretation of Mann's Death in Venice
- Death in Venice Essay: Every Great Man has a Flaw