Steppenwolf Outline by EMJ


  • Background on Sartre’s idea of bad faith, nothingness and the pain from one’s inner conflict
  • Explain Schopenhauer’s idea of the inevitability of pain with knowledge
  • Introduce the connection between Sartre and Schopenhauer’s idea; the inner conflict that one feels due to bad faith is what the ‘thinker’ indulges in, causing them to feel pain and suffering
  • Influence of Schopenhauer and Sartre on Harry Haller’s journey with Hermine throughout the book and his necessity of returning to a childhood state in order to survive his reality

Thesis: Through Harry Haller’s transformation with Hermine, merged with Sartre’s philosophy of bad faith and Schopenhauer’s idea that with knowledge pain is inevitable, Hermann Hesse proves that man must return to a childlike state in order to enjoy the pleasures of life and survive reality.

Paragraph 1: (Bad faith)

Topic sentence: The space between our projected selves and real self, cause a void of nothingness leading to internal conflict resulting in pain and suffering.

  • General explanation of Sartre’s idea of bad faith
  • We have the inner conflict amongst our multiple souls that exist within us
  • The space between who we act as, and who we are creates an internal state of  nothingness
  • This nothingness causes inner conflict which leeds to the pain and suffering that we over indulge ourselves in (leading to Schopenhauer’s idea)


  • “The very essence of the reflexive idea of hiding something form oneself implies the unity of one and the same psychic mechanism and consequently a double activity in the heart of unity, tending on the one hand to maintain and locate the thing to be concealed and on the other hand to repress and disguise it Each of the two aspects of this activity is complementary o the other; that is, it implies the other in its being. By separating consciousness from the unconscious by means of the censor, psychoanalysis has not succeeded in dissociating the two phases of the act” (Sartre, 94)
  • “In irony a man annihilates what he posits within one and the same act; he leads us to believe in order not to be believed; he affirms to deny and denies to affir; he creates a positive object but it has no being other than its nothingness” (Sartre, 87)
  • “Bad faith seeks to affirm their identity while preserving their differences” (Sartre, 98)
  • “The equal dignity of being, possessed by making being-for-others and by my being-for-myself, permits a perpetually disintegrating synthesis and a perpetual game of escape from the for-on to the for-others and form the for-others to the for-itself” (Sartre,100)

Paragraph 2:

Topic Sentence: Harry’s struggle between man and wolf creates an internal space of nothingness causing Harry to feel pain and suffering, demonstrating Sartre’s idea of bad faith.

  • Due to Harry’s multiple souls he exhibits Sartre’s idea of bad faith and demonstrates the inner conflict and suffering that it can cause someone
  • Harry is completely divided between ‘being’ man or ‘being’ wolf which causes a divide in his authentic self
  • These two parts force Harry to have a persona and a real self causing suffering, because he has seen the truth within his reality


  • “For all who got to love him, saw always only the one side in him. Many loved him as a refined and clever and interesting man and were horrified and disappointed when they had come upon the wolf in him. And they had to because Harry wished, as every sentient being does, to be loved as a whole and therefore it was just with those whose love he most valued that he could least of all conceal and belie the wolf” (Hesse, 43)
  • “In spite of this apparently clear division of his being between two spheres, hostile to one another , he has known happy moments now and then when the man and the wolf for a short while were reconciled with one another…for there is not a single human being, not even the primitive negro, not even the idiot, who is so conveniently simple that his being can be explained as the sum of two or three principal elements and to explain so complex a man as harry by the artless division into wolf and man is hopelessly childish attempt. Harry consists of a hundred or a thousand selves, not of two. His life oscillates, as everyone’s does, not merely between two poles, such as the body and the spirit, the saint and the sinner, but between thousand and thousands”(Hesse, 57-58)
  • “He calls himself part wolf, par man, and with that he thinks he has come to an end and exhausted the matter. with the  ‘man’ he packs in everything spiritual and sublimated or even cultivated to be found in himself, and with the wolf all that is instinctive, savage and chaotic. but things are not so simple in life as in our thoughts, nor so rough and ready as in our poor idiotic language; and harry lies about himself twice over when he employs this niggardly wolf-theory. He assigns, we fear, whole provinces for his soul to the ‘man’ which are a long way from being human, and parts of his being to the wolf that long ago have left the wolf behind” (Hesse, 61)
  • “And yet a part of me began play-acting again, calling the professor a sympathetic fellow, yearning after a little talk…prompting me to believe that an evening spent with my pleasant host and hostess would be in reality positively cheering, helping me clap some court plaster to m chin, to put on my clothes and tie my tie well, and gently putting me, in fact, far from my genuine desire of staying home” (Hesse, 77)

Paragraph 3:

Topic Sentence: The pain and suffering that Harry develops due to his bad faith turns him into an over complex thinker, making life unbearable to live.

  • Harry has seen the truth within reality due to his gap of nothingness and with this he has been forced to grow up too quickly
  • Harry has a complex mind that can only take in the negative aspects of life and over looks all of the positives
  • Harry’s inability to live or think simplistically is the sole reason for his inability to truly live
  • Explain the detrimental effects that Harry’s complex mind has on his being


  • ” No more is needed to know that the Steppenwolf lived a suicidal existence” (Hesse,19)
  • “He knows too well that it leads to still greater suffering, to proscription, to the last renunciation, perhaps to the scaffold, and even though the enticement of immortality lies at the journey’s end, his is still unwilling to suffer all these suffering adn to dies all these deaths. Though the goal of manhood is better known to him than to the bourgeois, still he shuts his eyes, he is resolved to forget that the desperate clinging to the self and the desperate slinging to life are the surest way to eternal death, while the power to die, to strip one’s self naked, and the eternal surrender of the self bring immortality with them” (Hesse, 62)
  • “A Whirl of travel drove me afresh over the earth; fresh sufferings were heaped up, and fresh guilt. and every occasion when a mask was torn off, an ideal broken, was preceded by this hateful vacancy and stillness, this deathly constriction and loneliness and relatedness, this waste and empty hell of lovelessness and despair, such as I had now to pass through once more” (Hesse,68)
  • “You are much to exacting and hungry for this simple, easygoing and easily contented world of today. You have a dimension too many” (Hesse,151)

Paragraph 4:

Topic Sentence: Harry’s inability to live simplistically is explained by Schopenhauer’s idea that with knowledge, metaphysical pain is inevitable.

  • As we grow, we become more aware of our surroundings and are able to truly understand and process the reality that we live in
  • The basis of human reality is based on suffering so the more we become acquainted with it through knowledge, the more we suffer.
  • Explore Schopenhauer’s explanation of his idea


  • “That spiritual pain is conditional upon knowledge goes without saying, and it is easy to see that it will in cease with the degree of knowledge”(Schopenhauer, 46)
  • “Through all this, however, the measure of suffering increases in man far mofd than the enjoyment, and it is very greatly enhanced specifically by the fact that he actually knows of death”(Schopenhauer, 45)
  • ” To these is then added, also as a result of reflection, a source of pleasure, and consequently of suffering, available to him alone and one which preoccupies him beyond all measure, indeed more than all the reattach put together: ambition and the sense of honour and shame- in plain words, what he thinks other thinks of him.” (Schopenhauer,44)
  • “this arises first and foremost because with him everything is powerfully intensified by thinking about absent and future things, and this is in fact the origin of care, fear and hope, which, once they have been aroused, make far stronger impression on men then do actual present pleasures or sufferings, to which animals are limited. For, since it lacks the faculty of reflection, joys and sorrows cannot accumulate in the animal as they do in man though memory and anticipation.”(Schopenhauer, 44)

Paragraph 5: Harry’s transformation with Hermine, returning back to a childlike state in order to be able to enjoy simplistic pleasures, is the only way that Harry can survive his reality.

  • Harry and Hermine’s process of returning back to a childlike state
  • Contrast between the ‘thinker’ Harry and the ‘Simplistic’ Harry
  • Importance of Hermine representing Herman, the young child state of Harry
  • Harry’s ability to enjoy and indulge in simple pleasures
  • Importance of dance in Harry’s, new simple life


  • “How can you say that you’ve taken any trouble to live when you won’t even dance?…But you learned reading and writing and arithmetic, I suppose and French and Latin and a lot of other things? I don’t mind betting you were ten or twelve years at school and studied whatever else you could as well. Perhaps you’ve even got your doctor’s degree and know Chinese or Spanish…But you couldn’t find the time and money for a few dancing lessons!…Fine views of life, you have. You have always done the difficult and complicated things and the simple ones you haven’t even learned. No time, of course”  (Hesse,88)
  • “In your case, for example, the spiritual part is very highly developed, and so you are very backward in all the little arts of living. Harry, the thinker, is a hundred years old, but Harry, the dancer, is scarcely half a day old” (Hesse,126)
  • “Yes, now that I looked at her face carefully, I had to admit she was right. It was a boy’s face. And after a moment I saw something in her face that reminded me of my own boyhood and of my friends of those days. his name was Herman” (107)
  • “Either a man goes and hang himself, and then he hangs sure enough, and he’ll have his reasons for it, or else he goes on living and then he has only living to bother himself with. simple enough” (Hesse,87)
  • “One day I would be a better hand at the game. One day I would learn how to laugh” (Hesse, 218)


  • Harry’s Journey with Hermine, returning to a childlike state to be able to survive reality
  • Reality is unbearable as an adult because we have knowledge on our reality, which we have discovered through our inner conflict, therefore making pain inevitable

Steppenwolf PBA Outline by E.M.J.

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