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Steppenwolf as a Quest Novel
Hesse believes that all people should search for peace, which lies within the individual. Before a person can live peacefully with others, he must learn to accept the true nature of his inner self. Steppenwolf is a novel about Haller's quest for self-knowledge. At the beginning of the book, Haller is pictured as a man torn between two personalities, an intellectual, artistic side and a wolfish side. By the end of the novel, he has accepted that within himself there are really multiple personalities that can be rearranged to find peace and harmony. There is hope that he will find the mystical unity of the soul.
Through his encounters with Hermine, Maria, and Pablo, Haller learns to shed some of his inhibitions and despair. The three of them lead him through new experiences that give expression to those aspects of his personality which have been hitherto suppressed.
Because of his encounters at the Masked Ball and the Magical Theater, he learns new detachment and is able to laugh for the first time in years. As a result, he begins to feel less an outsider and more a part of the universe. Although he has learned much in his quest, he has more to learn after the close of the novel.
Hesse was profoundly influenced by Jung's ideas after being psychoanalyzed by him in 1921. Jung's influence is clearly seen in Steppenwolf, for it is a psychoanalytical novel. In the Preface, Hesse indicates that Haller was a sick man who suffered from general malaise, "the disease of our times;" like many of his contemporaries, he felt that much of life was empty and meaningless.
Throughout the book, Haller is torn by an internal conflict. His struggle is an effort to learn to control the different personalities within himself. To help him understand himself, he has frequent dreams and fantasies that he analyzes; the analysis teaches him about life. He also is forced to lay bare his soul in the Magic Theater. His experiences there are like a psychoanalytic treatment, in which the patient projects his feeling on the therapist whose duty is to reflect them back in such a way that the patient gains in self-knowledge. Many of the experiences in the Magic Theater serve as a mirror of self to Haller.
It is Jung who taught Hesse that the personality of an individual is divided into various elements, like the shadow, the anima, the conscious, and the unconscious. In order to gain true health, these elements must be reconciled and live in harmony. Throughout the novel, Haller is searching for a way to deal with his negative side, which he calls the Steppenwolf; it does not allow him to live peacefully. Jung called such a negative side of the personality "the shadow."
Haller meets Hermine and feels very close to her. She represents the more feminine side of his nature, including his repressed, intuitive and sensual qualities. Jung refers to the feminine soul in man as "anima." Before Haller can be at peace, he must deal with his anima. Haller's answer to his anima is to stab Hermine to death and then carry an image of her in his pocket.
According to Jung, the self represents the conscious as well as the unconscious. Self-knowledge must come to grips with both levels. Only then can man feel a oneness with the universe. In his experiences in the Magic Theater, Pablo (the flesh and blood image) is a symbol of Haller's conscious; on the other hand, Mozart, a symbol of immortality and perfection, is the subconscious that Haller is trying to obtain. At the end of the novel, Pablo and Mozart fuse into one, indicating that Haller has progressed in his development and learned to accept and fuse his many personalities.