Steppenwolf Study Guide

Steppenwolf Study Guide

Original title:
Der Steppenwolf: Erzählung
Published 1999 by Penguin (first published 1927)
ISBN 0140282580 (ISBN13: 9780140282580)

Hermann Hesse wrote his novel “Steppenwolf” in his typical style: introducing a separate book in a book and combining the literary language with psychoanalytic tricks and real facts. Published in 1927, the text still preserves the signs of the Hesse’s spiritual crisis that he went through in the 1920s.

The author begins the story saying that he received Harry Haller’s notes marked “for madmen only” that he wants to retell to the reader. Harry is a young man who goes through a personal crisis and even contemplates suicide. The joyful and productive middle-class people that surround his life annoy him. While roaming the city he meets a stranger who hands him a booklet on Steppenwolf that describes the exact feelings Harry goes through.

Trapped in the fight between his half-wolf (animal-like tough) personality and half-man (highly intelligent and spiritual) existence, he loathes the people around him. After lashing out at his professors and colleagues, he is set on killing himself just when he meets the girl that will change his life.

All of the sudden the protagonist discovers the pleasures of life and dives into a completely new lifestyle: theatrical plays, love, dance, wine delights... He enjoys the little pleasures of life but a part of him is repulsed about such lifestyle and craves for more divine and sophisticated environment. His new friend, Hermina, plans for him to kill her when she is ready for it.

Once invited into a special theatrical play, Harry discovers different parallel realities that experiment with the world as we are used to it. The reader finds himself far away from the reality and deep into the psyche of the protagonist.

The events of the book are vague, characters are aloof, the places are never named and people rarely exhibit their true emotions. All the sentences are soaked with this longing feeling of dislocation, desperation, and hopelessness. It’s unclear where is the boundary between internal worries and the external world.

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Steppenwolf Quotes with Page Number

“Solitude is independence. It had been my wish and with the years I had attained it. It was cold. Oh, cold enough! But it was also still, wonderfully still and vast like the cold stillness of space in which the stars revolve.” — Page 194 — “You are willing to die, you coward, but not to live.” — —...


The story of Steppenwolf (1927) is the Herman Hesse’s most widely read book. The main character Harry Hiller, Steppenwolf, is influenced by Hesse’s exposure to Western philosophers as well as Indian and Chinese philosophy. Concepts of Eastern spiritual wisdom which Hesse was interested in can be...

Steppenwolf Analysis

“As for others and the world around him he never ceased in his heroic and earnest endeavor to love them, to be just to them, to do them no harm, for the love of his neighbor was as deeply in him as the hatred of himself […]” (Hesse 11). | This passage demonstrates essential characteristics of the...


Herman Hesse, the author of Steppenwolf has incorporated his theory that everyone has multiple personalities throughout this reading. By writing this, Hesse fragmented himself into three different people: the author, the acquaintance and Harry Haller. Herman Hesse’s main theory was that “there are...

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