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MonkeyNotes-Steppenwolf by Hermann Hesse
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Section 7: The Magic Theatre

Summary

("At this moment Pablo appeared....Pablo was waiting for me, and Mozart too")

Haller's entry into the unreality of the world of the Magic Theater is made possible through hallucinatory drugs. Shortly after he enters, he hears Pablo's voice from far away. He invites all those present in the Magic Theater to the long-awaited entertainment "for madmen only." Pablo then directly addresses Haller, saying that it is a pleasure for him to be his host on this occasion. He acknowledges that Haller has been weary of this world and longed to enter a more exciting place, a world beyond time. Pablo says that such a world is hidden within his soul.

Pablo draws out a looking glass from his pocket and holds it before Haller's eyes. Haller sees a hazy reflection of a self- tormented, seething being, namely Harry Haller. Within him he recognizes the dazed and frightened Steppenwolf, who is sometimes full of anger and other times full of sadness. He sees that the two aspects of himself are trying to devour each other so that one may exist. Haller is sad over what he sees.

Pablo next takes Haller to his peep show in the theatre and explains that it is meant to be enjoyable and cause laughter. Pablo hopes that the peep show will help to extinguish the Steppenwolf within Haller. Amazingly, Haller begins to experience a sense of relief and wonder, followed by buoyant exhilaration. Then Haller finds himself laughing. Pablo is pleased at the sound and tells Haller the he may learn to laugh like the immortals, such as Mozart, Plato, and Goethe.

Pablo shows Haller the mirror again. As he gazes into it, Haller thinks that he looks unusually good-humored and bright; but the reflection soon falls to pieces. Other figures gradually spring forth, representing bits and pieces of Haller. Some of the images are young; others are old. Some are merry, comic, well-dressed, or long-haired; others are sad, despondent, naked, or hairless. Each image lasts only a moment, quickly followed by another.

Haller begins to travel through the Magic Theater. With curiosity, he goes from door to door and eagerly reads each invitation. The inscription on one door reads, "Jolly Hunting. Great Automobile Hunt." Haller opens the narrow door and steps inside, where he is instantly swept into a world of noise and excitement. Motor cars race wildly through the streets running down and crushing pedestrians. It looks like a violent war between men and machines with a general desire for destruction and murder. Haller joyfully joins the battle.


In the midst of the destruction, Haller spies Gustav, his school friend whom he has not seen for dozens of years. When Haller expresses his pleasure at seeing him, Gustav tells him to keep quiet. He explains that he is a professor of theology, but he has gotten caught up in the war. He asks Haller to come with him. Gustav drives like a devil, dodging bullets and crashed cars. Along the way, both men shoot at many cars and then feel ashamed for being murderers.

When this first adventure is over, Haller goes to read other inscriptions on other doors. He next chooses a door that says, "Guidance in the building up of the personality. Success guaranteed". When he goes inside, he finds himself in a quiet room where there is a man sitting on the floor. The man holds a glass before Haller. When he looks inside it, he again sees himself broken into many personalities, even more than when he first looked in Pablo'' mirror. The man tells Haller that a person is made up of many selves and many souls. If they do not live in harmony, they cause schizophrenia and madness. The man says that the multiple souls can be rearranged to bring peace and harmony to a person. Like a playwright shaping a drama from a variety of characters, a human can shape his being from a diversity of selves. Each personality is different and new, but they all have a common origin and resemble one another. To make the personalities act in harmony is to master the art of living. The different selves can be worked and arranged into groups, families or friendships. The more the personalities work together, the more complicated and enriched life becomes. It can be a moving breathless drama.

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