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Central Theme in Demian by Herman Hesse

Uploaded by SamSkillz on Feb 22, 2004

Central Theme in Demian by Herman Hesse

According to Herman Hesse, inner harmony can only be attained by the complete acceptance of all natural desires and actions. He illustrates the necessity of self-awareness through his portrayal of the individual and his or her continuous quest through life to ultimate self-acceptance. In the novel Demian, Hesse creates the character Sinclair as an archetype for the individual, using Sinclair’s personal quest to illustrate the pain and despair resulting from uncertainty in one’s feelings and actions. Through Sinclair’s stories of his life, Hesse teaches that self-understanding and peace can only come with the recognition and realization of all one’s drives. In pursuit of this goal, one must not allow the often unnatural and hypocritical standards of society to prevent the expression of all aspects of one’s personality.

Demian begins with a story of the narrator, Sinclair, at age 10. This is when he began realizing that he had both desires that were accepted by society and desires that were not. Sinclair says that discovering this dual nature of his impulses led him to realize there were two realms of his world and two sides to himself. Hesse describes these as “day and night, two different worlds.” At this time, Sinclair sees the realms as very separate. To him, they are realms of pure, distinct good and evil. One realm was of “brilliance, clarity and cleanliness, gentle conversations, washed hands, clean clothes, and good manners.” The other, however, was one that “smelled different” and “contained servant girls and workmen, ghost stories, rumors of scandal.” Sinclair tries to deny himself thoughts or actions that lay in the dark world. He says that he “unquestionably belonged to the realm of light and righteousness.” He shows doubt as to his conviction, however, when he says, “at times I didn’t want…to repent and be found again. But one didn’t dare think this, much less say it out loud.” Although Sinclair sometimes felt that there was no reason to repent, he could not cross the line between worlds without suffering from the guilt and shame that society dictated he should feel.

It is not until Sinclair meets Demian that he truly begins to appreciate the dichotomy within himself. Demian does the unthinkable. He does not constrain his thoughts and desires to those that society accepts. Demian interprets the bible in ways different then those taught in school,...

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Uploaded by:   SamSkillz

Date:   02/22/2004

Category:   Literature

Length:   7 pages (1,574 words)

Views:   9915

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