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Comparing the Theme of Self-Discovery in Demian and Siddhartha

Literature reflects many aspects

of human nature. It can be seen as a

collection of mankind’s thoughts. The intangible is transformed from

brainwave patterns to ink patterns. What leads to the writing of literature

varies from author to author. In the case of Hermann Hesse, it was his

personal experiences in life. In the novels Demian and Siddhartha, Hermann

Hesse was influenced by Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung, both psycho-analysts.

A personal crisis, which caused Hesse to undergo psycho-analysis with Dr. J.B.

Lang, led to the writing of Demian in 1919. His fascination with Eastern

cultures and his trip to India in 1922 directly resulted in the creation of

the novel Siddhartha. The fundamental theme of self-discovery is evident

in both novels. Self-discovery involves developing the mind, experiencing

life, obtaining wisdom, learning about oneself, coming to an understanding and

acceptance of this, and by the end, discovering one’s identity. This theme of

self-discovery was important to Hesse because he experienced similar events in

life. He was born in Germany in 1877 and raised in a Protestant household

with expectations to follow in the footsteps of his forefathers and become a

missionary. He did not wish to do so, partly because he was interested in

Eastern religions. This personal crisis of the questioning of fundamental

beliefs deeply affected Hesse. In Demian he writes, “There is only one true

vocation for everybody – to find the way to himself.” (Hesse, Demian, 1989,

p.120) Through his struggles, he found that the road to self-discovery could

only be experienced firsthand and could not be e…

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…ld Literature. New York: Funk

Violence in the Media

Violence in the Media

Gina Marchetti, in her essay “Action-Adventure as Ideology,” argues that action- adventure films implicitly convey complex cultural messages regarding American values and the “white American status quo.” She continues to say that all action-adventure movies have the same basic structure, including plot, theme, characterization, and iconography. As ideology, this film genre tacitly expresses social norms, values, and morals of its time. Marchetti’s essay, written in 1989, applies to films such as Raiders of the Lost Ark and Rambo: First Blood II. However, action-adventure films today seem to be straying farther away from her generalizations about structure, reflecting new and different cultural norms in America. This changing ideology is depicted best in Oliver Stone’s Natural Born Killers (1994), which defies nearly every concept Marchetti proposes about action-adventure films; and it sets the stage for a whole new viewpoint of action in the ’90’s.

Until recently, most action-adventure films, to some extent, fit Marchetti’s general guidelines. In the case of iconography, she states that all action-adventure films are set in exotic locations, for example decaying temples or rainforests. Most modern American films, though, are set in American cities and towns in which much violence occurs. Natural Born Killers is filmed entirely in New Mexico, Arizona, and Illinois, with dry desert land forming most of the visual scenery. Why is America no longer as interested in exotic and foreign places? Perhaps the modern movies are more realistic, and therefore can solve real American social problems in the realm of fantasy.

In the case of characterization, Marchetti claims that the most st…

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…sening up in this country, although not quite to the extreme as in Natural Born Killers. Despite the controversy caused by the assumed message that “killing is cool,” there is important ideology embedded within the film. There is sanity within the insane. The film, in a sense, displays the consequences caused by the suppression of the inner, free soul. We’ve all seen instances of people “cracking” under the pressures of modern society. I’m not suggesting that we live like wild animals, but I do think that Natural Born Killers is an excellent movie which made a natural attempt to kill standard ideology.

Works Cited

Natural Born Killers. Dir. Oliver Stone. With Woody Harrelson, Juliette Lewis, Tommy Lee Jones, and Robert Downy Jr. Warner Bros., 1994.

Marchetti, Gina. Action-Adventure as Ideology. Cultural Politics in Contemporary America, 1989.

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