"Love" in "Narcissus and Goldmund" (a novel by Herman Hesse)

Essay by ferret99College, UndergraduateA+, September 1996

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Defining the word love is almost impossible. No other word in the English

language has so many different connotations and uses. There can be no one true single

definition. However, for the purpose of this paper, I have come to the following

conclusion. Love is an intense emotion, characterized by unwavering admiration and

caring between two people who consider themselves to be perfect equals in the eyes of

God. To consider oneself a complete equal with another, a deep understanding and

respect of the other person must be developed. There should be no instances of immature

jealousy or pointless wishes. Each person must revere the other for who they are, and

expect nothing more of them. Only when this point has been reached, true love will be

present. As the story begins, Narcissus and Goldmund already have a very special

relationship is growing and changing as the novel goes on.

However, I believe that

neither of them ever really experiences the bonds of unwavering love and equality until

the very end.

The relationship begins innocently enough. Goldmund is a young student, while

Narcissus is his older mentor at the Mariabronn cloister. Goldmund admires the learned

mind and discerning wit of Narcissus, while Narcissus respects the 'strong, delicate

senses' that Goldmund possesses. However, when Narcissus confronts Goldmund with

his gifted observations of him, it is a valid indication of the type of relationship that has

so far grown between them.

'I am superior to you only in one point: I'm awake, whereas you are only half

awake, or completely asleep sometimes... Natures of your kind are almost always

superior to us creatures of the mind... You live fully; you were endowed with the

strength of love, the ability to feel.'

Narcissus clearly feels that there exists a separation between himself and...