I will seek to explore the relationship between Haller`s wolf /man identity using a Jungian
model of the self I will argue that the opposition of reason and desire reaches integration by
the end of Steppenwolf. Some reference will be made Nietzchian ideas and make some
reference to the psychoanalytical triadic model of Michael Jacobs. The above will also inform
a discussion in Jungian terms of human nature.
In a note to the novel written in 1961, Hesse declared that many had failed to understand the
message of Steppenwolf. (Hesse p5)The book was not only about Haller's many miseries and
failings. Hesse emphasized that the book was not about despair but belief. In 1916, Hesse
entered the Kurhaus Sonnmatt sanatorium near Lucerne, where he first encountered Josef B.
Lang. Lang, a Jungian became Hesse’s long-term therapist, and facilitated Hesse’sexploration
of his youth, his desires, and his own neurosis.
In the treatise, Haller is compared to a gardener who cultivates a garden of a thousand flowers but then divides them into only two categories, edible and inedible. Since this is too crude a distinction, he misses nine-tenths of the beauty and value of the garden. According to the treatise, "This is what the Steppenwolf does with the thousand flowers of his soul. What does not stand classified as either man or wolf he does not see at all." (Hesse p79)
Jung argued that the personal unconscious contained clusters of ideas, thoughts, memories organised around an affective core. He described these as ‘feeling-toned complexes’. Jung (1907, 82.) These are the basic structural units of the psyche. These were the ‘living units of the psyche’ (1934 p191). He argued that each of these splinters were capable of a degree of intentionality. They are similar to real personalities and if they gain control of the ego they can determine behaviours. (Sandner Beebe, 1995, p302)The aim of depth psychology is to explore the negative complexes before their content becomes conscious and causes the individual to fulfil them. Harry Haller is a "genius of suffering"(Hesse p11); and that Harry has "created within himself with positive genius a boundless and frightful capacity of pain (Hesse, 11)." To Jung the danger was that the individual became trapped in dead ends and only followed well worn paths. Our dreams and fantasies therefore are always pointers to these complexes and show us where we are in danger of being unbalanced. We can clearly see here the influence of Frederich Nietzsche’s vitalism in which the complexes have desires, intentions and aims of their own. (Southwell,P 157) Haller`s fate is to live the whole of human destiny heightened to a personal torture, a personal hell. (Hesse, 25) Harry alludes to Nietzsche who is hanging between an "animal" and an "Overman" over the "Abyss" in Thus Spake Zarathustra (Ch 4.). Harry's pain and hopelessness are depicted when he considers suicide .
To Jung the unconscious was full of the seed of future events that existed outside time. The collective unconscious does not evolve out of the experience of the individual, but is composed mainly of issues that have never been conscious, those is not acquired, but are passed down from before. The collective unconscious contains within it archetypes and instincts. These van be thought of as Haller`s “Immortals” . They are not image or idea, but are rather basic patterns of psychic activity that all humans’ experiences are organised around. The second area is the instincts which are the biological needs that influence our responses. These are things as sexuality, hunger and aggression. Unlike Freud who used the word libido to describe the sexual drive, Jung argued that there is no one single motivating instinct of the mind. For Jung the psyche is a dynamic system that is both changing and self regulating. In a sense this libido moves between two different points which Jung calls the ‘opposites’. The greater the difference between the two opposites, the greater the libido and to Jung there are two basic movements within this structure of the unconscious. The first is progression and this deals with adaption to the circumstances that the individual finds themselves in. The opposite is regression and this is concerned with the inner world of fantasies, dreams and symbols. Both forces are necessary for a balanced outlook and we can see the basic metaphor of homeostasis in Jungian thought. Until Haller achieves this his life has become a waste and empty hell of lifelessness and despair. He fails because he has been unable to live according to the truth of his own being. He has created a prison for himself by narrowing and limiting his concept of who he is
To Jung the ego is the central point of consciousness and enables us to have a basic sense of identity. Jung argued that the egos job was to help us function in everyday life, unlike Freud who saw the ego as a means to tell us what was true and to protect the psyche. Jung believed that the ego is not the same as the Self which is the whole container of personality that has within it all unconscious and conscious aspects of the psyche. . The essential goal of the Self is to individuate and become complete. "Harry consists of a hundred or a thousand selves, not two"; human nature is too complex to be viewed between only two extremes Harry's life oscillates, as everyone's does, not merely between two poles, (such as reason and desire , wolf and man) , the saint and the sinner, but between thousands and thousands". (Hesse, 66)
The well being of the ego therefore is essential and depends upon the well being of the Self. An ego that is too powerful on the other hand can form a dictatorial personality that maybe the route to a dangerous psychopathology. In the second half of life the ego and the Self oppose one another and we begin to slowly understand that the self is more crucial. It is at this stage that the personality begins to integrate and eventually we attain well being and greater consciousness. "All the love that I had missed in my life bloomed magically in my garden during this hour of dreams."(Hesse p157) He learns that the personality is not fixed and rigid but contains a thousand different elements that can be moved around and recombined in different ways like so many pieces of a chessboard. This thinking frees him from the man/wolf dichotomy that has previously dominated and limited his awareness and makes him ready to experience the human world.
Jung’s most unique contribution is the shadow. The shadow is the elements of the personality that contain weaknesses and the areas that a person cannot admit to having. All individuals have a shadow. The less we are aware of that shadow, the denser and darker it is. This is because the further apart the two poles are, the further apart are the balancing units, these aspects for Haller are the wolf and the man
"One exists simply and solely to harm the other, and when there are two in one blood and in
one soul who are at deadly enmity, then life fares ill" (Hesse, 48).
When a person has a weak ego they are in danger of being controlled by the shadow and this can be clearly seen where Haller states “ they would either explode and separate forever, and there would be no more Steppenwolf, or else they would come to terms in the dawning light of humour" (Hesse, 64).
In Man and his Symbols in chapter 3 The Process of Individuation Von Franz describes this process as ‘the initial crisis in the life of an individual’ (p 170 Jung1964) she continues on pg 171 ‘that one must begin the process by swallowing all sorts of bitter truths’. By becoming aware of our shadow we can in another sense see our own light and once we examine our shadow and understand the two opposites we achieve a sense of well being and insight
“The wolf in me howled in gleeful triumph, and a dramatic struggle between my two selves followed” (Hesse p93)
An inability to see these two poles would thereby be the cause of a psychopathology. “ It is clear that this weak and anxious being, in whatever numbers he exists, cannot maintain himself, and that qualities such as his can play no other role in the world than that of a herd of sheep among free roving wolves.” (Hesse p49)
Jung argued that the persona was like a false personality that a person may believe is real. If we identify with our persona we without thinking project all our shortcomings onto others and therefore, we must link in the persona as being the opposite pole to the shadow. Identification with a persona does not fit into a concept of well being and is therefore one more contribution to a psychopathology.
Jung also believed that everyone has an inner personality and attitude with faces the unconscious reality of the psyche. Jung describes the anima as the unconscious feminine aspect of a man with the animus being the corresponding aspect of a woman’s psyche Hermine can be considered in this role as Haller`s anima Hermine reminds him of his youth, his first love with Rosa Kreisler, and his mother, but he is unable to pinpoint what exactly she resembles (Hesse, 100). Carl Jung, states “As long as man is unconscious of his anima, she is frequently projected upon a real woman, and the man’s fantasy equips her with all the fascinating qualities peculiar to the anima cited in (Tusken, 116)”. Maria can be perceived as an aspect of Hermine’s personality; a sensuous expression of the many parts of life. Her role is to prepare Harry for the “beautiful picture” that Haller will witness at the climax of the novel (Hesse, 238).
At this point Haller experiences a Jungian “flash of insight” His fate is about to take a twist, and the “doors” for him are soon going to open .While there he becomes intoxicated and, finding Pablo and the Hermine asleep side by side, he hallucinates driving a knife into Hermine’s chest. Still fantasizing, he imagines a conversation with Mozart about the necessity of learning to laugh at the apparently real and to remain mindful of only the ideal, then a trial in which he is sentenced to eternal life for his imagined murder of an imaginary figure. Mozart suddenly returns and becomes Pablo, who criticises Haller for his confusion of the ideal and real and then vanishes, with Hermine leaving Haller to reflect.( Hesse p209)
Haller is prepared to resume life, to suffer its agonies and senselessness once more, hopeful that he someday will be able, like Goethe and Mozart, to distinguish between ideas and appearance and to rise above it all and laugh. Or, in Nietzschean terms, to overcome himself, to become an “overman,” unfettered by conventional and artificial limits and free to experience. In the Magic Theatre Haller discovers “All girls are yours”(.Hesse p209) He re-lives loves of his life like he missed in real life. This time his inhibitions are gone; he acknowledges the relationship between innocence, youth, and sex. This is the basis of the lessons learned from Maria.
The above diagram illustrates the linkage between personality and to quote Michael Jacobs in ‘the Presenting Past’ that linked past relationships and present relationships and can be considered as linking through the internalised objects ‘in here’ ‘back then’ and ‘out there’. It can be seen therefore that knowledge of the self is primary and is the bridge between the man and the beast the reason and the erotic. “From her I had learned once more to confide myself in child-like fashion to the play on the surface of life, to seek the most fleeting pleasures, to be a child and a beast in the innocence of sex (Hesse, 179)”. Haller has to find his anima (Hermine) to become one of the immortals. Haller accepts the reality that his life is not a struggle between wolf and a man. “Pablo was waiting for me, and Mozart too”. (Hesse p253) Hesse states that human nature is not only “a disease and a crisis -but not one leading to death and destruction, on the contrary :to healing” ( Hesse p6)
‘Anyone who wants to know the human psyche will learn next to nothing from experimental psychology. He would be better advised to put away his scholar's gown, bid farewell to his study, and wander with human heart through the world. There, in the horrors of prisons, lunatic asylums and hospitals, in drab suburban pubs, in brothels and gambling-hells, in the salons of the elegant, the Stock Exchanges, Socialist meetings, churches, revivalist gatherings and ecstatic sects, through love and hate, through the experience of passion in every form in his own body, he would reap richer stores of knowledge than text-books a foot thick could give him, and he will know how to doctor the sick with real knowledge of the human soul’
"New Paths in Psychology" In Jung CW 7: Two Essays on Analytical Psychology. P.409
The psyche is a self-regulating system that maintains its equilibrium just as the body does. Every process that goes too far immediately and inevitably calls forth compensations, and without these there would be neither a normal metabolism nor a normal psyche. In this sense we can take the theory of compensation as a basic law of psychic behaviour. Too little on one side results in too much on the other.
"The Practical Use of Dream Analysis" (1934). In CW 16: The Practice of Psychotherapy.
‘The world has become full of symptons’ In James Hilman and Michael Ventura book We’ve had a hundred years of psychotherapy and the world’s still getting worse’, San Fransisco, Harper (1992
‘In every man........ There is one part which concerns only himself and his contingent existence, is properly unknown to anybody else and dies with him. And there is another part for which he holds to an idea which is expressed through him with an imminent clarity, and of which he is the symbol’
Wilhelm von Humboldt “autobiographical fragments” 1816 cited in The Aryan Christ
Jacobs, Michael “The Presenting Past “Open University Press 2006
Jung Carl "New Paths in Psychology" In CW 7: Two Essays on Analytical Psychology. P.409
Jung,Carl, Man and his Symbols, 1964, USA, Dell Publishing
Hillman James and Ventura Michael We’ve had a hundred years of psychotherapy and the world’s still getting worse’, San Fransisco, Harper (1992
Southwell, Gareth (2009) A Beginners Guide to Nietzsche’s Beyond Good and Evil, Chichester, Wiley-Blackwell
Snowden, J Teach yourself Iung 2006 London Hodder Education
Hesse, Herman Steppenwolf Penguin London 1961