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An Examination of Herman Hesse's Demian

Uploaded by SamSkillz on Feb 22, 2004

Herman Hesse's: Demian, An Examination

An individual often admires another person’s characteristics, thoughts, or actions, and attempts to reflect or imitate these in himself. In psychology, this is known as a defense mechanism that allows the individual to take on such characteristics without being conscious of changes to his own personality. Through Demian, in Herman Hesse’s novel of the same title, Sinclair displays his innermost thoughts about the world, and, in particular, his aspirations for himself. Demian is a projection of the goals Sinclair wishes to achieve, attributes he would like to attain, and thoughts he cannot possess because of the bonds placed on his mind by society.

Demian first emerges as a savior for Sinclair when he has been blackmailed by another character, Kromer. Sinclair describes himself in the short time preceding this, as wanting to be part of the dark world, of which Kromer was a member. When he becomes so far immersed in the dark world and decides that he wants to escape, Demian appears with a “firm, self-confident tone (26),” which was the one thing Sinclair was unable to exhibit towards Kromer. Sinclair also wished that he could tell his parents of his dire situation, but have them accept it, and help relieve him of the pain it caused. Immediately following these thoughts, Demian tells him of his religiously unsanctioned interpretation of the biblical story of Cain and Abel, and what pleased Sinclair “was the ease and grace with which he was able to say such things, as though everything were self-evident (31).” What Demian is able to do is similar to Sinclair’s wish to tell his parents of his plight, caused by actions unsanctioned by religion. He is, however, afraid of the consequences. This leads him to wish he were able to rid himself of Kromer. Demian again embodies these primal wishes, which are directed this time towards Kromer, in saying that Sinclair simply should “kill him (41).” Sinclair, who describes himself as a definite member of the good world, is unable to accept the desires, thoughts, and urges within himself, so he projects them upon the character of Demian.

Sinclair is at a period in his life where he is beginning to think for himself. Rather than memorize ideas given to him by his parents, teachers, and clergymen, he begins to interpret and analyze. He becomes conscious of the dark, evil, world as opposed to the light,...

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Uploaded by:   SamSkillz

Date:   02/22/2004

Category:   Literature

Length:   5 pages (1,021 words)

Views:   12985

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