Book Review

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The Loyal Subject was written by Heinrich Mann. His novel is set in ultra-nationalism of Wilhelmine Germany following the life of the main character Diederich Hessling. Diederich is a German citizen who embodies aristocratic behaviors and is constantly offering his employment in pro-monarchical sentiments and patriotism to further his career and rank in German Society. Mann incorporates a wide range of characters that come from all German social classes during the Wilhelmine era. The main character Diederich will encounter each one of these characters and it will slowly shape him into the “loyal subject” that he becomes. He will eventually have loyalty to the Kaiser Wilhelm himself. The Loyal Subject was very satirical but Mann uses this to explain his views on a predetermined idea and how Germans were trained under Wilhelm II. Mann uses shallow ridiculousness of Hessling's life to critique Wilhelmine German society.
Mann’s character Hessling has inflexible ideals and they are often contradicted by his actions. This slowly creates him to be a blind follower and ultimately he becomes a loyal subject this way. As a child Diederich gets abused by his father and he sees it as normal and actually likes it. He seeks out the punishment and finds it necessary. Diederich as an adult is constantly preaching bravery but is very much a coward. He is a part of the strongest proponent of the military which he starts to serve but quickly seeks to be excused from his military service. Hessling preaches and enforces Christian virtues upon others but lies, cheats, and regularly commits infidelity himself. He later becomes a member of the Neo-Teuton student fraternity, even though he doesn’t believe in their political views or really cares to be a part of the fraternity. His greatest political opponents are the revolutionary Social...

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