Steppenwolf Essay Process by CE

On the Vanity of Existence – Schopenhauer

“The scenes of our life resemble pictures in rough mosaic; they are ineffective from close up, and have to be viewed from a distance if they are to seem beautiful.”  (This would work very well with an analysis of the garden metaphor in the treatise and then its extrapolation throughout the novel.)

  • Haller sees nothing beautiful in life, but as time goes on he’s constantly looking back to his childhood where he wishes he could have been a part of the comfort that the bourgeois provided.
  • When he’s in the magic theater, the man shows him that he can rearrange his life into any form he wants if he’s not content with it. It was only when Haller physically saw his life being molded into different forms did he realize how much power he had to make his life beautiful.
  • Maria and Hermine are two women who helped him begin to see all of the beauty in life.

“Man is a compound of needs which are hard to satisfy; that their satisfaction achieves nothing but a painless condition in which he is only given over to boredom… boredom is nothing other than the sensation of the emptiness of existence.”

  • Haller needed to be loved and accepted by others, but at the same time distance himself from society because of his discontent with the superficiality of many of the people in society. Obviously this is hard to satisfy, as they are two completely contradictory sentiments (yet not mutually exclusive…  he can still foster meaningful relationships while not allowing the radio of life to spoil his soul…that will make sense by the end of the novel)  This existence of suffering made him really feel, so in this sense his life had not been given over to boredom, but at the same time I think he really was bored because he only thought about death and did nothing about his existence. (yet, his feeling was rather one dimensional and it was only when he became involved with hermine/maria/Pablo that he began to feel throughout the emotional spectrum.  You can suggest that only then is that sensation of empty existence alleviated thereby ridding him of the boredom that lends itself to thoughts of suicide… I suspect this is the neighborhood of your thinking here, yes?)

That Individual – Kierkegaard

“There is a view of life which conceives that where the crowd is, there also is the truth, and that in truth itself there is need of having the crowd on its side. There is another view of life which conceives that wherever there is a crowd there is untruth… a ‘crowd’ is untruth.”

  • “Life, thought I, must in the end be in the right, and if life scored my beautiful dreams, so I argued, it was my dreams that were stupid and wrong headed… then I saw you. And I knew that my dreams has been right a thousand times over, just as yours had been. It was life and reality that were wrong.” (150)
  • “Just as madness, in a higher sense, is the beginning of all wisdom, so is schizomania the beginning of all art and all fantasy.” (193)
  • Haller is right in staying true to himself and not conforming to society, however, he has to accept all parts of himself in order to live a life that is not filled solely with pain. (Correct me if I am wrong, but here it looks like you are bridging k and jung (which logically builds off of the preceding point involving schop).  Only by stepping beyond the definitions of the bourgeoisie and stepping toward self-definition (heck here Sartre of Nietzsche would also work, but that would just be too much for a 6-8 page paper) can he begin to accept the parts of the whole (jung comes in to address those parts…you can even come full circle back to the thousand flowers of the garden if you wanted.

So I have these two philosophers, Schopenhauer and Kierkegaard, but I still want to bring in Jung’s idea of the anima and animus because I think that’s really important to my argument. Since I already have two primary sources, could I bring in the secondary source we read about Jung because I can’t find anything accessible online by Jung that discusses the anima and animus?  (The secondary source here is fine…)

Carl Jung – Dr. C. George Boeree

“The anima or animus is the archetype through which you communicate with the collective unconscious generally, and it is important to get in touch with it. It is also the archetype that is responsible for much of our love life: We are, as an ancient Greek myth suggests, always looking for our other half, the half that the Gods took from us, in members of the opposite sex.”

  • Haller had to get in touch with his anima, Hermine, in order to be at peace with himself. She symbolizes reason, laughter, and life for Haller, which drastically contrasts the human part of his Self which yearns for love and acceptance and the wolf part of his Self that is beastly and when all of these come together, rather when Haller comes to realize that he is made up of many more different parts than just his human and wolf Selves, he is able to understand himself better and overcome his suffering. The only way he could have done this is by getting in touch with his anima.

Thesis: As reflected by the philosophies of Schopenhauer, Kierkegaard, and Jung (Because you are using three contextual sources in this manner, do not mention them in your thesis. Instead establish their relevance in your introduction and then key words within the thesis will make it clear how the three are involved.  For instance the word anima in your thesis clearly signals to Jung’s influence in shaping your argument) , Harry Haller makes the transformation from a hopeless, angry, and suicidal man into a man enlightened by the realization of the true freedom he has to create himself because of his recognition of the many facets of his Self; this ultimately demonstrates that man does not have to be restricted by society when coming to an understanding of who he is, but rather has the ability to face and accept his anima, rise above boredom and the meaninglessness of existence, and have some perspective on his own experiences in order to define himself.

Ok, first off…this has great potential but we need to sort out the clunkiness of the wording first.  Check the parenthetical.  Also, here seem to be the main ideas of your thesis:

Schopenhauer—Harry must transcend the emptiness of his existence and view his life from a distance to bear witness to the beauty of his life. (I might add, to give your argument further psychoanalytical grounding that perhaps the ultimate end, the beauty of his life, is attaining individuation)

Kierkegaard—Life, established by the crowd, is the untruth.  He must gravitate toward himself and accept all parts of himself.

Jung—That acceptance can only be achieved by acceptance of the anima!

Argument—only once he rises of a bourgeoisie

Only once Harry embraces his anima (Jung) can he transcend the emptiness (Schopenhauer) of bourgeois (Kierkegaard and the crowd) existence and attain individuation (Schopenhauer and the beauty of the mosaic as well as Jung and individuation).

The above is just a sample of course based on what I suspect you are arguing.  The parentheticals are not meant to be in the thesis but just to indicate how your context is reflected in the thesis.  I hope this has been of some help!

Steppenwolf PBA Process by C. E.

Print Friendly