The Review of Knulp

The Review of Knulp
A novel by Herman Hesse
Dave Banchich, Ashlee Doxbeck, Bryan Haley, Angie Bidak, Matt Miller,
Danielle Jacobs, and Chelsea Smith, Period 3
Description of Setting
• The time period of Knulp is
continuously throughout the 1890’s
• It is located mainly in Central
Germany, Lachstetten
Plot Summary – Early Spring
• Knulp’s only specific profession is that of a tramp and a
traveler. One day, he feels feverish and he decides to
check in with an old friend by the name of Emil Rothfuss.
Knulp is received as an honored guest and invited to
stay for as long as he wants.
• Knulp wanders the town with no real direction, but stops
in to visit old friends or chat with other journeymen.
Within a few days, Knulp also takes notice of the young
maid next door and decides to catch her attention. He
invited Barbele out for dancing one night and they leave
each other with a kiss, and she leaves him with a coin.
Plot Summary – My Recollections
• The narrator dicusses a summer spent with Knulp. He
describes Knulp’s many talents for entertaining and
socializing. He recalls one specific one specific time
when Knulp led him into a graveyard, where they
discussed life, love, and friendship. Knulp discusses his
former relations with a girl named Lisabeth, a story which
gives insight into his character.
• Later on, the two go to a bar together for dinner. The
narrator orders drinks while Knulp hesitates. Knulp soon
leaves, and his friend stays. Knulp is not heard from
Plot Summary – The End
• A traveler recognizes Knulp walking along the road. He
remembers him as a classmate. The traveler is a doctor
and notices Knulp is ill and so he insists that Knulp come
with him to be cared for.
• The doctor has a long talk with Knulp about his past
which explains much about the character that Kunlp has
turned out to be. His story deals with unrequited love,
which changed his entire life.
• The doctor sees Knulp get weaker by day, and arranges
for a hospital stay. Knulp agrees but then leaves on his
own once more. His life flashes before his eyes. He
imagines talking to God about his life purpose. Knulp
dies, laying in the Snow.
Character Summary
• Knulp: Knulp is an amiable vagabond with a unique
outlook on life. His only profession is that of a tramp but
his road book is organized and he stays out of trouble.
He is somewhat famous for occupying such a strange,
dutiless existence. Outwardly he appears young and
handsome, with a certain gracefulness in his
movements. Knulp is pleasant, polite, and a smooth
talker, and so easily makes good friends who show him
hospitality. Despite his qualities as a people person, he
is extremely independent. He has several seemingly
useless talents, such as song and poetry writing which
display his unique philosophies.
Main Conflict
• The main conflict found in Knulp is that of person vs.
self. This can be found in the way in which Knulp
questions his purpose in life towards the end of the story.
Throughout the story, the way in which Knulp lives a
nomadic life of freedom is shown to come in direct
conflict with him finding purpose in life. This can be seen
of course by when the work book with many stamps is
discussed, or the way in which Knulp just moves on.
• Also, the conflict can be seen even more when we see
how Knulp will end a conversation about philosophy,
principle, and the meaning of life quite abruptly. This
shows that Knulp may not want to talk about the
meaning of life because he is unsure about his meaning.
Main Conflict Con’t
• However the part where we see the conflict the
clearest is at the end of the story. It is here that
we see Knulp return to his home town as if he is
returning in a last ditch attempt to find meaning
within his life at the place where it all started.
However, he continues to hold himself back here
still and be his own greatest adversary when he
lingers outside the town for the last bit of the
story instead of venturing in and confronting
himself and his past.
Main Conflict Con’t
• Throughout the story, Hesse leaves hints
of Knulp’s intentions or goals in the
conflict. From his world weary demeanor
in the first chapter to his discussions with
the narrator in the middle and the way in
which he questions whether he lived a
good life or not at the end. All of these
instances serve to show that Knulp merely
wants to find meaning in a life in which he
feels full of emptiness.
Resolution of Conflict
• The conflict in Knulp comes to an end with
Knulp’s discussion about his life with God.
Whether this discussion is merely a delusion
created by Knulp’s sickness, or actually a
discussion with God at the end of his life isn’t
important. However, the discussion itself, about
whether Knulp lived a good life or not, was.
Knulp acts as the antagonist by saying he could
have done something differently such as staying
in school or finding direction in life.
Resolution Con’t
• Versus “God” acting as the antagonist by saying
there was meaning in all the good times and
wandering that Knulp had, and that he brought
happiness to many people and gave them hope.
He “settled their homesickness for freedom.” In
this way, Knulp’s battle to find meaning in life is
resolved in that he lived a life of freedom so that
other people could live that way through him and
experience it almost as a child. It’s then by this
resolution that Knulp is able to move on to death
in peace and contentment with his existence.
• “Knulp looked at me closely; then his black
lashes flickered and he said thoughtfully, “Yes.
But that comes to an end too, like everything
else. All sorts of things can wreck a friendship, or
a love for that matter.” Page 56.
• Knulp is not stressing the importance of love or
sympathy towards the tanner. He is just stating
that everything amounts to nothing.
Quotations Con’t
• “In the end, we all have a life of our own that we
can’t share with everyone else. You can see that
when a friend or loved one dies, you weep and
grieve for a day, a month, or even a year, but
then the dear departed is dead and gone and
the person in the coffin might as well be some
helpless unknown apprentice.”
• Rolling over the presence of death but not
sharing any empathy for those who grieve for
those who’ve died.
Literary Elements
• Symbolism. The symbols represent solitude,
loneliness, and human kind’s singular destiny.
• “Their souls are like flowers, each rooted to its
place. One can’t go to another because it would
have to break away from its roots… A flower
can’t do anything to make a seed go to its right
place; the wind does that and the wind comes
and goes when it pleases.
Literary Elements Con’t
• These passages symbolize the
solitudinous human soul and the
loneliness felt by Knulp, as humans all
have their own unique destiny that is
shaped by fate.
Literary Elements Con’t
• “After a few days of being alone he say the
town down below, the sounds that rose up
to him were alien and hostile, and he knew
the town was no longer his place… He
spent the night in wood cutters’ cabins or
in the fields bedded in straw.”
Major Themes
• Identity: Knulp struggles throughout his life
in a quest for identity and self
• Self-Fulfillment: Knulp learns that only he
can control most of his life, and he cannot
blame all of his problems on the actions of
Characters Support Theme
• Knulp experiments with Catholicism by attending
services and studying the Bible and eventually rejects it
to search for his own unique way of life.
• At the close of the last story, Knulp recalls his
experiences with young love and his painful feelings that
came over him when he was rejected by the first female
in his romantic life. He realized that in these later years,
only he can cope with these feelings.
• Knulp experiments with various careers, such as
blacksmith and none seem to meet his personal
standards. This is one of the ways in which he searches
for a sense or identity.