Demian Essays

The Hidden Meanings Behind Demian Essay

The Hidden Meanings Behind Demian Archetypes are considered to be a type of symbolic imagery derived from the past collective experience and present in the individual unconscious; at least in the ideas of Jungian psychology. In the article entitled Jungian Archetypes in Herman Hesse's Demian, by critic Johanna Neuer, this definition proves true, as its interpretation is based on Jung's archetypes and theory of individuation. In Herman Hesse's novel, Demian, Hesse strives to represent the process of individuation, as defined by Carl Jung. The protagonist of the novel Emil Sinclair, finds within himself the means to resolve inner conflicts to reach a new enlightened order. Thus he is able to come to terms with life. This quest of individuation can only be achieved through what Jung terms the unity of the conscious and unconscious. This is what this novel strives to prove and what Neuer's article comments upon, through the use of Jungian archetypes.

Although this article reflects largely on Jung's theory of individuation, it probes into deeper depths of Jungian theory. Including his understanding of the balancing of the consciousness and unconsciousness. In order for humans to lead a normal life, there must be a balance between these two. As Neuer clearly articulates in her article, Emil's childhood is set in a split world. The 'good,' which is embraced through his family and the 'bad,' which is embodied through his enemies. However, as she states, the difference between the 'good' and the 'bad' is only on the surface and in a deeper reading, "this division is the polarity between the conscious and unconscious within man himself" (Pg. 10). Neuer goes a step further by offering an interpretation of Jung's theories through examples of archetypes present in Hesse's novel. Such archetypes include the Great Mother and the God Abraxas. The Great Mother is "characterized by a dual nature which Jung calls 'the loving and terrible mother,' who is both sympathetic and full of wisdom on the one hand while is secretive, seduces, and poisons on the other" (Pg. 13). This is characteristic of both Emil's mother (the good) and Frau Eva (the seductress). The God Abraxas has powers beyond what humans can perceive. Abraxas generates truth and falsehood, good and evil, light and darkness. Thus, Abraxas becomes the emblem of the unity between Emil's conscious and unconscious. His goal as an individual therefore, is as Neuer states, "to emulate the totality of Abraxas by uniting the splintered fractions of his being into one complete personality, just as Jung defines individuation" (Pg. 10). Only when the conscious...

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The protagonist of the story suffers from an unsolved problem, which causes him a great physical and emotional discomfort. He strives to be good, just like his parents, who fully belong to the world of light, guided by their unquestionable faith, but he also opposes to his parents’ way of life. Emil Sinclair can’t get rid of self-doubt, for he feels that he is different from the rest, that he doesn’t belong to “the world of light”. From early childhood, he is taught what is good and what is evil, but still he can’t find a satisfactory answer for himself. This inner conflict becomes the main theme of the book and makes him take a long road to himself in order to learn what is good and evil for him.

It is a commonly known fact that great historical events are preceded with growth of philosophic arguments. The world usually is divided into two sides, one of which consists of those who dare, while the other one consists of those who don’t. When World War I begins, Max says that “the new world has begun and the new world will be terrible for those clinging to the old”. The theme reveals that thrre always are and will be romantics and dreamers, who believe and will believe in the new world through a war or any other disaster.

Emil’s parents are devoted Christians, people, who are guided by their faith and find needed answers in the Bible or through a prayer. Unfortunately, they often forget that it is highly important to not only find a way to God, but also to himself/herself. Their own flawlessness prevents them from seeing that their son is not a type of person, who can be satisfied with the only one book. This inability to accept that all human beings differ widens a gap between them and their son.

Max Demian often speaks about people who “bear a mark”, those who dare and those who are not cowards. His justification for Cain as a man of will and power often reminds of Nietzsche’s concept of a superman. In spite of the fact that his and Nietzsche’s ideas are extremely tempting and fascinating, they might be easily used for wrong purposes. As soon as one person starts regarding himself/herself as a superman, he/she starts forgetting about importance and a value of other’s people’s lives.

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