Herman Hesse wrote the novel Steppenwolf in 1927. This novel is a self-portrait of a human who thought he was half-man and half-wolf. This is a fascinating story where Hesse is in search of philosophy and humanity. It is a story about a misanthrope who finds his humanity. Also, it is about self-examination. Very often this book is misunderstood. Frequently readers are hooked on Harry’s rebellion and beast-like side and they often overlook his odyssey back from that point. Main character is torn apart between his humanity, wolf like aggression and his vagrancy. Harry Haller is 47-year old man who is living a death-like existence. Once he was a public intellectual who has retreated from society in disgust. He lost everything; his family, job and home. He lives in isolation like a wolf. Two parts of his soul are in conflict: the beast and the man. The beast wants isolation and savagery, the man wants society, culture and love. He thinks about suicide but nevertheless clings to his days of despair and loneliness. When Hesse was writing this novel, he was describing his own spiritual crisis. This beautiful novel is not about suicide, it is about healing.
Harry Haller is a middle-aged man who moves into a new house in a town which name is not mentioned. He feels melancholy and despair. Harry believes that he is Steppenwolf in a world which does not understand him. Also he is disgusted by the organized and eager optimism of the middle class and the bourgeoisie. Even he feels that kind of feelings, he is in the same time attracted with its charms. Regularly, he thinks about suicide. One night he was walking the city streets, he notices a sign on the door: Magic Theater – Entrance not for Everybody. He also noticed one more sign: For Madmen Only. Harry tries unsuccessfully to open the door. Instead, a sign-bearer gives him a pamphlet entitled Treatise on the Steppenwolf. The pamphlet includes the description of a Steppenwolf. It describes a person who is half-man and half-wolf. When he read this, he was convinced that he has to kill himself. But, Harry meets a young charming lady in a bar. She gives him a sensible and affectionate advice. Next week they meet again. Girl resembles to a boy from Harry’s childhood Herman. Harry guesses that girl’s name is Hermine. She decides to help Harry. She has broken him through his isolation and he will obey all of her orders and instructions. Hermine tells Harry that he will fall in love with her eventually. When that happens, she will ask him to kill himself. She teaches him many things like how to dance. Hermine finds him a lover Maria and introduces Harry to mysterious and beautiful jazz musician Pablo. Harry becomes deeply involved in his new life, in life full of pleasure and hedonism. Everything that concerns Maria and Hermine becomes a pleasure. These few weeks made him happy and content. Despite this positive change he is feeling, part of him is disgusted by this transformation. That part of him craves for the spiritual and divine. He confesses his feelings to Hermine. She understands everything he said, in fact she understands him better than he understands himself. His concerns reach highest point at Fancy Dress Ball. There he sleeps with Hermine. As the party comes to an end, Pablo invites the two of them to join him in Magic Theater. Pablo explains that the purpose of the theatre is the separation of the personality. That purpose can only be accomplished through laughter. When Harry came inside the School of Humor he started to laugh at his image in the mirror. He notices so many different doors. He enters some of them. Behind each door there is a new surreal world. Reality starts falling away as we go further and deeper into the psyche of the Steppenwolf. In one moment Harry finds himself in a room where Pablo and Hermine are lying on the floor naked. Harry believes that this is the moment when he has to kill her. Unusually he finds a knife in his pocket and with it he stabs Hermine. Famous composer Mozart appears in that very moment. He says to Harry that he has abused the theater with his unreasonably serious behavior. Mozart reveals that life is compromised and full of circumstances that are not always ideal. Harry these aspects of life must greet with laughter. Although this time he did not succeed, he strongly believes that next time he will.