The Fairy Tales of Hermann Hesse

Existential Analysis of The Forest Dweller

The Forest Dweller, by Hermann Hesse, is a tale not only of the downfall of tyranny or the fall of the high priest it is a tale of existential enlightenment. The Forest Dweller stands as an allegory for existential thought and triumph. The story’s central thematic idea is the struggle between the individual and the herd. Kubu struggles to break free from the tribe that exiles him and the forest that holds him prisoner. Following Kubu’s development through the story, it is clear that although at first it was catalyzed by someone other than Kubu, inevitably, Kubu decides on his own to continue on his existential journey towards individuality and self-actualization.

The beginning of the story describes not only the forest dwellers, but the home that they live in. Hesse describes the forest as “dark,” “a cradle, nest, and grave.” This image of darkness symbolizes the ignorance in which the forest dwellers live. Hesse describes the forest dwellers as seeking refuge in this vacuum of knowledge, going so far as to say that they not only are born here when he refers to it as a nest, but also that they die in it when he refers to it as a grave. Hesse’s choice of setting is particularly important in that the forest dwellers are forced...

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