The Magic Mountain Study Guide

The Magic Mountain Study Guide

Original title:
Der Zauberberg

The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann is a philosophical novel that features a surrealistic setting of a sanatorium far away in Swiss mountains that, considering that the pace of time there isn’t constant at all, can be called magical. The protagonist, a man in his twenties named Hans Castorp, goes there to visit his relative, who has tuberculosis, but falls ill himself during the visit and has to spend several years (or something like that) in the sanatorium. There he meets different people who come and leave - either by dying or by curing and moving on to the new life - or return changed to spend some more time in the sanatorium.

There are two main conflicts in the story: the one of the two patients Castorp admires and considers his mentors and the conflict that happens with his love interest. Hans befriends the two older people there: Lodovico Settembrini and Leo Naphta, who are both skilled speakers and intelligent philosophers. But Settembrini is a humanist, while Naphta is a zealot of totalitarianism. The conflict between them escalates more and more (as do the rest of the relationships between the patients - due to the creation of a weird cult inside of the sanatorium) and Castorp has to make a decision, whose ideals and whose personality he is ready to support.

The other conflict happens between Castorp and Madame Chauchat, who he falls in love with. Madame Chauchat is a mysterious and complicated character who comes and goes, bringing new “friends” with her but still not rejecting the clumsy advances of Hans. Castorp is too shy to confess to her, but his inner feelings play a big part in his attitude to the life and to the things that are happening around him.

The war that starts puts an end to the blissful peace of the sanatorium. It influences the lives of every character we met throughout the story. The ending, that is still ambiguous but rather bleak, shows us how much a tragedy the war can be comparing with the previous conflicts of the people happening in the peaceful time.

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The Magic Mountain Quotes with Page Number

“It is love, not reason, that is stronger than death.” — Page 506 — “Tolerance becomes a crime when applied to evil.” — — “Laughter is a sunbeam of the soul.” — — “There are so many different kinds of stupidity, and cleverness is one of the worst.” — — “It is remarkable how a man cannot summarize...

The Magic Mountain

The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann is a novel about a character that is able to become more educated in life due to his visit with his sick cousin. Hans Castorp the main character learns about life because of his decision to stay on the mountain in Davos. Hans becomes more educated through his...

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