Please wait while we process your payment
If you don't see it, please check your spam folder. Sometimes it can end up there.
Don’t have an account?
Create Your Account
Sign up for your FREE 7-day trial
Already have an account? Log in
Choose Your Plan
$4.99/month + tax
$24.99/year + tax
Save over 50% with a SparkNotes PLUS Annual Plan!
for a group?
Get Annual Plans at a discount when you buy 2 or more!
$18.74 /subscription + tax
Subtotal $37.48 + tax
on 2-49 accounts
on 50-99 accounts
Want 100 or more?
for a customized plan.
You'll be billed after your free trial ends.
7-Day Free Trial
Renews December 11, 2023
December 4, 2023
Discounts (applied to next billing)
This is not a valid promo code.
(one code per order)
Annual Plan - Group Discount
SparkNotes Plus subscription is $4.99/month or $24.99/year as selected above. The free trial period is the first 7 days of your subscription. TO CANCEL YOUR SUBSCRIPTION AND AVOID BEING CHARGED, YOU MUST CANCEL BEFORE THE END OF THE FREE TRIAL PERIOD. You may cancel your subscription on your Subscription and Billing page or contact Customer Support at email@example.com. Your subscription will continue automatically once the free trial period is over. Free trial is available to new customers only.
For the next 7 days, you'll have access to awesome PLUS stuff like AP English test prep, No Fear Shakespeare translations and audio, a note-taking tool, personalized dashboard, & much more!
You’ve successfully purchased a group discount. Your group members can use the joining link below to redeem their group membership. You'll also receive an email with the link.
Members will be prompted to log in or create an account to redeem their group membership.
Thanks for creating a SparkNotes account! Continue to start your free trial.
Your PLUS subscription has expired
See discount terms and conditions.
Having undergone psychoanalysis, Hesse was particularly interested in exploring the workings of the human mind. This comes through in many aspects of Demian. First, the entire book deals with Sinclair's intellectual development. Hesse does a particularly good job of capturing the torment that Sinclair feels, as he is pulled by very strong force in opposite directions. Not only does the author take an interest in psychology, but so also do the characters of the book. When Sinclair and Demian are taking Confirmation class together, one of the central topics of conversation concerns understanding the inner workings of other people. Their exploration often centers on Demian's prowess at getting to know people better than they know themselves and influence how they act.
This is one of the major themes of Demian and one which derives from Friedrich Nietzsche. Nietzsche's book, Beyond Good and Evil, is an exhortation to transcend humanity's accepted ideas about morality. He urges people not to be so influenced by what is considered good and what evil, but to adopt other metrics of evaluation. This idea is central to Demian . A large part of Sinclair's growing up is his coming to accept that it is all right to enjoy things from the realm of darkness, things one might refer to as evil. Ultimately, he is even brought to be fascinated by the notion of worshipping such "evil" things, in his study of Abraxas, the god who combines good and evil. Ultimately, Sinclair comes to reject the notion that he should worry about what is good and what evil in deciding how to act. This Nietzschean edict is a vital part of Sinclair's intellectual development.
Another central Neitzschean idea found in Demian is the importance of the will. People who have learned to transcend moral categories can, unhampered, express their wills. We see this very clearly as the ideal to which Sinclair aspires and grows, and the ideal that Demian and his mother represent. We see this in Sinclair's discussion with Knauer, where he tells the disturbed student, that in order to be free he must pursue his soul's innermost desires—that is to say, he must exercise his will. This point becomes particularly clear in Frau Eva's goading of Sinclair to seduce her. She tells him that he must truly want her in order to win her. She requires that his will transcend the niggling moral qualms he has retained. The he will have fully realized himself and will be deserving of her as a prize.
One of the more complex ideas that Hesse treats in Demian is the relationship between an author and his subjects. A short prologue, written by the older Sinclair, the narrator of the story, precedes the first chapter of the book. In it, Sinclair chides authors who "tend to take an almost godlike attitude toward their subject, pretending to a total comprehension of the story, a man's life." Sinclair admits that, even though the story he is about to tell is his own, he still does not have this type of godlike understanding. This recognition calls into question the entire book. Hesse wants us to be aware that the story we are reading is written by a fallible man. Writing about someone's motivations can be problematic and imperfect even if they are one's own. We are constantly reminded of this throughout the novel. While we may get engrossed in a story of a particular episode, Sinclair is constantly interrupting these episodes to present an analysis. This constant interjection reminds the reader that Sinclair, as an older man, is the one telling all of these stories, and that the information we get may or may not correspond to how the younger Sinclair actually thought at the time.
Ace your assignments with our guide to Demian!