Emil Sinclair Essay, Research Paper
Emil Sinclair is a representation of the movement of one’s inner spirit toward realization. The path Emil is traveling on is one of self-discovery. Each man’s life represents a road to himself, an attempt at such a road, the intimation of a path. The most essential thing that Emil struggled with was the dichotomy of the world, the two realms. The realms of the day and night, two different worlds coming from two opposite poles, mingled during this time. Opposition is marked and clarified as being distinct as night and day. My parent’s house made up one realm… It was the realm of brilliance, charity and cleanliness, gentle conversations, washed hands, clean clothes and good manners. Sinclair describes this first realm as being ordered and controlled, his parent’s household, with its set rules and beliefs, takes on a biblical symbolism: “Straight lines and paths led into the future: there were duty and guilt, bad conscience and confession, forgiveness and good resolution, love, reverence, wisdom and the words of the Bible.” It was from this world that Emil learnt from his parents. They provided him with a sense of belonging.
The “other realm” is presented as the opposite of the world of his parents. “This second world contained servant girls and workmen, ghost stories, rumors of scandal.” This world not only contained the bizarre and disturbing, but things natural and real. This other realm encompasses those things which in some cases are deplorable, but are also, in other cases natural and necessary. Reality is composed of these polar worlds that Sinclair has observed, but his upbringing provided by his parents has taught him to favor one world over the other. As Emil spent less time with Max Demian, he became more dependent on his parents. He says: “I turned myself into someone younger, more dependent, more childish than I was.” Sinclair’s dilemma lies in his attraction to the dark world. “There were times when I actually preferred living in the forbidden realm, and frequently, returning to something less beautiful, something rather drab and tedious.”
With many realization, the world progressed away from one based on guilt and alienation. Emil’s feelings of alienation came at the hands of his parents realm as they inundated him with morality, the ideas of duty, transgression and trespass. Emil not only found that the other realm was intriguing but that it was at times unavoidable. This accidental apprenticeship to Franz Kromer, his sexual intimations and puberty were things that his parent’s world had made no allowances for. There was a constant desire to conform to social norms but Emil constantly battled against this urge in order to express his thoughts and emotions.
The idea that the human soul is not definitively good or bad, but a complex mixture of both, is also realized by other relationships and experiences. One such relationship is the bond with the mother figure.
Though Emil’s actual mother played a very small role in the story, he discovers a powerful mother figure in Demian’s mother, Frau Eva, who is also universal and transcends even the boundaries of sex. In the years preceding Emil’s first encounter with Frau Eva, he forms an ambiguous androgynous “mother image” in his dreams. He has dreams of embracing her that are clearly sexual, but also indicative of his admiration for the woman as a nurturer. Frau Eva is initially realized as his first crush. She later becomes the mother image symbolizing a more mature conception of love. She represented a challenge to Emil to test himself to the utmost to see what he can do by himself.
Emil, in his development discovered that religion can provide insight into the amora. He founds a new cult like religion with Pistorius, a reclusive organ player adopting an idol, the ancient figure of Abraxas, “whose symbolic task is the uniting of godly and devilish elements.” Pistorius’ philosophy is centered on the belief that we are universal beings. He reflects “every god and devil that ever existed, be it among Greeks, Chinese, or Zulu’s, are within us, exist as latent possibilities, as wishes, as alternatives.” Sinclair learns to accept life as a struggle toward the artificially rationalized defined good and evil, leaving oneself incomplete. Emil learned to find himself from Pistorius. He understands that Pistorius cannot complete his full development especially when he sees him drunk in the street.
Another medium for self discovery is art. The very process of artistic creativity enabled Emil to pour emotions and ideas into an aesthetic form, helping him to reconcile certain aspects in his identity. Emil’s painting, created while he was living apart from Demian at school, revealed the latent content of his dreams and symbolized a psychic connection to his enstranged friend. His portrait of Beatrice as a figure becomes a representation of Demian, then of Emil’s inner self and finally of Frau Eva. He later impulsively paints a bird emerging from an egg-like sphere and sends the image to Demian. His friend’s enigmatic response suggests that the bird is freeing itself from the established constraints of his life, and flying to the god Abraxas. This leads Emil to “become” this bird and seek the new faith of Abraxas in order to form a new reality, free from moral conformity. Hesse created a portrait of an individual who struggles to “live in accord with the promptings of his true self, subsequently growing closer to a universal higher power.”
Emil learnt a great deal from all the symbols and people that entered and left his life. Most of the symbols he created within himself. The creation of these symbols, as well as his interactions with the people he learned from, allowed him to grow and develop spiritually.