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The Hidden Meanings Behind Demian Essay

891 words - 4 pages

The Hidden Meanings Behind Demian Archetypes are considered to be a type of symbolic imagery derived from the past collective experience and present in the individual unconscious; at least in the ideas of Jungian psychology. In the article entitled Jungian Archetypes in Herman Hesse's Demian, by critic Johanna Neuer, this definition proves true, as its interpretation is based on Jung's archetypes and theory of individuation. In Herman Hesse's novel, Demian, Hesse strives to represent the process of individuation, as defined by Carl Jung. The protagonist of the novel Emil Sinclair, finds within himself the means to resolve inner conflicts to reach a new enlightened order. Thus he is able to come to terms with life. This quest of individuation can only be achieved through what Jung terms the unity of the conscious and unconscious. This is what this novel strives to prove and what Neuer's article comments upon, through the use of Jungian archetypes. Although this article reflects largely on Jung's theory of individuation, it probes into deeper depths of Jungian theory. Including his understanding of the balancing of the consciousness and unconsciousness. In order for humans to lead a normal life, there must be a balance between these two. As Neuer clearly articulates in her article, Emil's childhood is set in a split world. The 'good,' which is embraced through his family and the 'bad,' which is embodied through his enemies. However, as she states, the difference between the 'good' and the 'bad' is only on the surface and in a deeper reading, "this division is the polarity between the conscious and unconscious within man himself" (Pg. 10). Neuer goes a step further by offering an interpretation of Jung's theories through examples of archetypes present in Hesse's novel. Such archetypes include the Great Mother and the God Abraxas. The Great Mother is "characterized by a dual nature which Jung calls 'the loving and terrible mother,' who is both sympathetic and full of wisdom on the one hand while is secretive, seduces, and poisons on the other" (Pg. 13). This is characteristic of both Emil's mother (the good) and Frau Eva (the seductress). The God Abraxas has powers beyond what humans can perceive. Abraxas generates truth and falsehood, good and evil, light and darkness. Thus, Abraxas becomes the emblem of the unity between Emil's conscious and unconscious. His goal as an individual therefore, is as Neuer states, "to emulate the totality of Abraxas by uniting the splintered fractions of his being into one complete personality, just as Jung defines individuation" (Pg. 10). Only when the conscious has...

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