Pessimism In Herman Hesse's 'On The Suffering Of The World'
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In Herman Hesse’s novel Steppenwolf, Harry Haller struggles with knowing the meaning of life and ultimately causes him to believe in fatalism. Fatalism is when one is dead set on what going to happen in their life and no amount of pleasure is going to alter that. In Schopenhauer’s “On the Suffering of the World”, he discusses how pessimism causes one to view happiness as only temporary because pleasure is caused from the absence of pain and individuals are fated to suffer. Although some argue that Harry is an optimist because he views suffering as beneficial, I claim that Steppenwolf is a pessimist because he views happiness as only temporary and his fate in life is to suffer. It is important to discuss Harry Haller’s view of suffering because viewing happiness as something that is supposed to be short lived is not healthy because it causes a lack of gratitude for the limited amount of pleasure one gets from a world that is already full of suffering.
One distinction that shows Steppenwolf is a pessimist because of how views his love with Maria: temporary and frivolous. This is shown when Harry explains, “it was happiness that I experienced...I was bathed in joy like a rippling pool. And yet that was only the shell-within all was significant and tense with fate” (157). This quote shows that Harry’s love can only last for a short amount of time because his fate is to ultimately suffer in his life and being in love will not change his life sentence. Hesse specifically uses the