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Steppenwolf

  • Study Guide
Main Ideas

Themes

Main Ideas Themes

Hesse’s notion of laughter is complex. It is neither an escape from life into pleasure and entertainment nor a recasting of the darker sides of existence with an artificial rosy light. Rather, the laughter that the enlightened possess pierces through the serious traumas of existence while at the same time superseding and transcending them. Though Harry has been correct in finding human existence full of horrors, the appropriate response to this knowledge is not to destroy one’s life through obsession with the ultimate failure. Instead, one must struggle and at the same time laugh at the world’s mess.