The Story of Steppenwolf: Book Analysis

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The story of Steppenwolf (1927) is the Herman Hesse’s most widely read book. The main character Harry Hiller, Steppenwolf, is influenced by Hesse’s exposure to Western philosophers as well as Indian and Chinese philosophy. Concepts of Eastern spiritual wisdom which Hesse was interested in can be seen in the novel. Following the record of Harry Hiller’s manuscript, Hesse exposes the struggle of human mind through describing the lack of acceptance, rejection, broken dreams and division in the society and individuality to the readers. This is a realistic picture of despair, depression and isolation. Eastern wisdom such as Indian and Chinese philosophy plays an important role in the structure of the novel.

The introduction of ‘magic theatre’ in the novel exudes a sense of transcendence from place and time. In effect, ‘magic theatre’ brings about a tinge of Eastern charm and Indian cultural identity. Indian philosophy on the discovery about ‘centrality of consciousness’ states that dualistic nature exists in individuals. Personal identity of the ‘Witness self’ is the crucial point of our individual nature, and is also utilized in the realization of the Absolute Self. The Indian spiritual and philosophical wisdom sees the finite self characterized by the individual ‘I’. The concept of such relates to physical body and mind, and prevents the individual from engaging with the infinite self. Infinite self expands the finite mind a soul and realizes our true unification with the ‘Godhead’. Hesse incorporates this ideology into the Immortals for example, Hermine, as well as the human part of Steppenwolf. Harry cannot be a peace with himself due to his wolf inner tendencies. He cannot gain peace in society because everyone else is fixated on the finite self. The only way Steppenwolf can achieve unity with the Godhead is through suicide. (Kheper, 2001)

The ideology of Chinese philosophy also can be seen in novel. The themes of Confucianism emphasize the importance of...
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