Demian - Herman Hesse

Word Count: 742

Herman Hesseís novel Demian tells of a young boy
named Emil Sinclair and his childhood growing up
during pre-World War I. Emil struggles to find
his new self-knowledge in the immoral world and
is caught between good and evil, which is
represented as the light and dark realms. Hesse
uses much symbolic diction in his novel to give a
more puissant presentation of Emil Sinclair and
the conflict between right and wrong. The
symbolism gives direction, foreshadow, and
significance towards every aspect of the novel.

Emil Sinclairís home as a young child is a very
important symbol in the novel. As Emil attends
school he is shown a world immoral value. The
confusion of which is right or wrong creates the
need for a safe haven for Emil. Emil refers to his
home as a realm of light and states that he and his
family all belong to that realm. The house itself
was once a monastery, giving it a more powerful
representation of the light realm. This symbolic
asylum represents Emilís innocence within himself
and casts him apart from the real world. Another
safe haven Emil retreats to is after he finds
himself as a member of the mark of Cain. Evaís
garden symbolizes the Garden of Eden (a
religious setting therefore of the light realm) and
Emil separates himself there as one with the mark
of Cain apart from the rest of the corrupt world.
Both settings symbolize Emilís importance in the
world as well as his destiny.

The Garden of Eden presents itself as another
symbolic location. The event that Emil told the
story of stealing the apples from the garden was
a very symbolic point of the novel in which Emil
breaks away from his light realm. The garden that
Emil stole the apples from represented the
Garden of Eden and the apples, or forbidden
fruit, symbolized Emil\'s first sin. This event
foreshadows what is next to come in the conflict
of good and evil. Emilís first step out of the light
realm gives way to more symbolic events where he
becomes more submerged into the dark realm.

At the beginning of the novel, Emil notices that
there is a coat of arms above his house
representing the Cain religion. The coat of arms
contained a sparrow hawk bird on it. Hesse uses
this symbolic approach to give the sparrow hawk
purpose in the rest of the story, as a symbol of
the mark of Cain. Emil discovered that the bird
represents the god Abraxas. From this point, Emil
is determined to find the meaning of the bird and
Abraxas. After the rain washed away a painting
of Beatrice that Emil painted, Emil could see
Demian and himself in the canvas. Emil then
painted a picture of the sparrow hawk on the
same canvas. Hesse used this event to symbolize
the connection between Emil, Demian, and
Abraxas. After bringing these characters
together as one, Hesse was able to conclude Emilís
transformation into the New World. Emil sees the
bird again above the hallway of Frau Evaís home.
The bird in Evaís hallway symbolized her home as
a house of Cain. Now Emil has found himself and
knows he belongs there. Emil sees the bird once
again outside in the form of clouds in the raining
sky. This clearly shows that the rest of the Old
World is ready for the transformation into the
New World.

In the last scenes of the novel, Emil is on the
battlefields of World War I. One night Emil
looks up into the sky and sees an image of a vast
village of people being engulfed into a god-like
figure which resembles Eva. The figure then
crouches over and gives birth to the people that
are now bright shining stars. This is the most
important symbolic event in Hesseís novel. The
god-like figure symbolizes Eva, being the leader
of the Cain people. The people that where
engulfed by the god-like figure symbolize the
people of the Old World. The god-like figure now
represents the Virgin Mary and gives birth to the
New World, which are the people transformed
into stars. This event concludes the passing of the
Old World to the New World. Each character has
now fulfilled their destiny. Hesse uses the last
scene in his novel to illustrate a clearer
presentation of the transformation. The hospital
where Demian and Emil last speak symbolized the
stable in which baby Jesus was born. Hesse
creates the setting of the barn and surrounding
hay to enhance his representation. The irony of
this symbolic setting helps conclude not only the
characters destiny, but the Old World\'s also.

The symbolic elements lead Emil to find himself
as an individual with the mark of Cain. Herman
Hesse used many symbolic items and events
throughout his novel