First Advisor

Louis Elteto

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.) in German






Hermann Hesse (1877-1962) Unterm Rad



Physical Description

1 online resource (iv, 68 p.)


Hermann Hesse's reflection on youth is one of his most popular themes. In his novel Unterm Rad (1906), Hesse explores youth and their search for identity. The author not only accuses the German educational system of at the turn of the century, but also the teachers and parents, of standing in the children's way in developing an individualized personality. According to Hesse, this development, however painful, is the primary responsibility of the adolescent. Hermann Hesse feels strongly about becoming a personality, namely the privilege to feel, act, and think independently of the masses. Every individual has an obligation to follow his inner voice and to develop his own identity. The first part of this thesis concentrates on the novel Unterm Rad and consists of a summary, thematic discussion, the novel's presentation and its original and succeeding receptions. It then discusses the definition and theory of "identity" in regard to young people. By focusing on the two protagonists Giebenrath and Heilner, their goals and the reality of their lives, their struggle on their way to adulthood becomes apparent. Finally this thesis explores Hesse's own childhood and youth and examines the autobiographical elements in the literary figures of this novel.


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