Central Theme in Demian
In Herman Hesses’ novel, Demian, he constantly makes the point in having self acceptance. Self acceptance is a value that someone holds in which they are happy with who they are and it is sometimes referred to as self love. Herman illustrates his own journey through the character, Sinclair, on his conquest to obtain this value of self acceptance.
Through the incidents that happen in Sinclair’s life, he eventually under goes the process of being able to accept him self for who he is. Once this has happend he finds an inner harmoney that could only been reached through self acceptance.
His novel begins with a troublesome event that causes Sinclair to acquiesce and sumbit to an older kid. This causes him to lose his morals and values and caues an inner turmoil in his character. This is when two realms are pointed out veiwed by this character as “night and day”. Night can be referred to as “love and strictness, model behavior and school”. As night can be refereed to as the darkside which it “promised and demanded different things”. Sinclair talks about how these two realms can easily overlap one another if your not careful with your actions and behavior.
Growing up in a some-what put together household with religion and good education, he realizes that it is very easy to cross into the these two realms; “day and night, two different worlds”. These realms are at two opposite ends in which he describes in detail how good it is to be in ‘day’ and how scary it is to be in ‘night’. Sinclair does not like to put himself into the situation of actions that would be considered night. Although at times he does think about the actions and inherit consequences of being in the darkness he would not even attempt to participate and do such a thing.
When Sinclair meets Demian he is amazed by how mature and responsible and sophisticated he is. He is not one who conforms his beliefs with society and will tell you how he sees and thinks it. As they have just met, Demian immediately starts to talk to Sinclair on a Biblical lesson they had learned in school. He tells him how he has interpretated it and Sinclair is very astonished to have learned a new way of seeing the story of Cain and Abel. In fact, Demian sees the story the complete opposite way as to the rest of how the class and teacher veiws it because he has put a philosphical and questionable idea behind it.
He wants to talk to the kid more about what he thinks on other things in life. Demian helps Sinclair and gives him advice on how to stop being tractable to Franz, the older kid, in a way relating the Biblical story. Demian opens up the ‘darkside’ to Sinclair. He begins to think about being more of an independent person, more say, then just continuing to follow his authoratative figures. By thinking more for himself, he feels that the ‘darkside’ is growing onto him and beginning to open up to him. After quickly growing a relationship with Demian, he realized that he use’s a psychological act to give him power.
SinClair does not understand how he is able to do such a thing in order to get his way from people, by performing hand movements and staring them down. Demian gives a little moral lesson to SinClair on how one must “desire it strongly enough so that his/her whole being was ruled by it. ” SinClair though is not able to fully fulfill Demians words and does not accomplish what he wants to do making him very frustrated. Once again, Demian advises Sinclair in another one of his interpretations on theology; this time being about Crucifixion. Standing up for what you believe in is one of the processes for obtaining self acceptance.
SinClair understands what Demian is implying and realizes that in order to be who he truely is, he must figure out what he believes and disbelieves to find himself along with his morals and values- once more a process to obtain self acceptance. For SinClair, it seems that a light has come through into his world as he sees a girl he names Beatrice. He decides to go and paint her but finds that it looks more like Demian. SinClair was able to see the light coming throught to him but no paying attention to the other side, it was ignored. Hesse uses Sinclair’s painting as a metaphor for his inner thoughts and desires.
At first he realizes that his painting is beautiful because it is of the girl that his eyes have fallen in love with (desires) but he does not recognize that it is Demian (inner thoughts). He is, however, unsuccessful until he allows himself to give into his “imagination and intuition that arose spontaneously… ” When he does this, his painting seems to differentiate male and femal, light and dark. SinClair, hanging out with men who go to bars to get drunk does not confide into going to have one night stands. He veiws his sexual desire much more then a one time deal as it means love and has strong feelings and veiws towards it. It was the image of an angel and Satan, man and woman in one flesh, man and beast, the highest good and the worst evil. ” Sinclair begins to love himself completely. . Sinclair was finally able to come into recogniztion with self love and loving what he truely liked and believed. “I wanted only to try to live in accord with the promptings which came from my true self. Why was that so very difficult? ” Eventually, in doing so, his fear took over and he was not able to continue his self acceptance. Walking home from a church, SinClair had always stopped by church to sit and listen to an organist while he plays.
This helps him think about himself as the music is not considered good or bad or part of ‘night’ or ‘day’. He states that it’s “music that seemed to listen to itself” and that is what SinClair has been trying to do his whole life- find his self acceptance. . Herman Hesse uses the character of Sinclair to give the illistration that one must over come his or her troubles and find their inner self and inner harmony to find their individuality . However, through this, the reader should ask their self “How well do they know their self? Do they accept their self? and What must they do to finally love their self? “