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The Voyage to the Self: the Coexistence of the Opposites in Hesse’s Abraxas

Biswarup Das


Man’s life has always been looked upon as a journey. Like any other journey, life has its own destination too. The destination is contingent on the direction the voyage is made. In case of the majority, the direction is outward – from the ‘self.’ That is why the common lot never become individuals. Rather they are reduced with time to a part of the system which is euphemistically called ‘human society.’ A few, however, make the movement in the opposite direction – to the ‘self.’ The journey of such a person is never easy. He needs to pass through various phases of life. Having done that, he gains ‘wholeness’ of existence, that is, his ‘self.’ In that self coexists the contrary inclinations – good and evil, moral and immoral, conscious and unconscious. Hermann Hesse’s timeless classic ‘Demian’ bears the same motif. The protagonist, Sinclair, is able to explore his self only when he has experienced the opposite forces of life. Sinclair’s friend Demian who throughout the journey remains his guide, becomes a part of his consciousness like God in the end.


Good; Evil; Permissible; Forbidden; Despair; Self

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