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Date of Award


Document Type

Thesis - Pacific Access Restricted

Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)



First Advisor

John D. Smith

First Committee Member

Diane M. Borden

Second Committee Member

Gilbert W. Schedler


The purpose of this thesis is to establish the pattern of Joseph Knecht's awakening in Hermann Hesse's The Glass Bead Game. Based on the premise that Knecht, unlike Hesse's previous protagonists, is an integrated individual living within a disintegrated and segregated environment, a secondary intent of this paper is to examine the paradox of Knecht's Castalian existence. Each chapter concentrates on a stage of Knecht's development, both formally as a Castalian, and psychologically as an individual who is committed to serving the highest authority. This authority is not the rigid, one-dimensional Castalia but rather the dynamic force which governs all life. Knecht compares himself to music and perceives his life as a process of becoming. As he ascends the ladder of Castalian hierarchy, Knecht's own consciousness develops through the intervention of several antithetical figures who challenge him to reconcile the subjective nature of Truth and the transience of all forms. When he can no longer justify serving an Order which is governed by the pretense of perfection and permanence, Knecht feels obligated to warn Castalia of its own temporality and to resign his position as Magister Ludi. Knecht's leap beyond Castalia and into the deadly lake at Belpunt serves two purposes; not only does he take the first step toward integrating Castalia and the outside world, but he fulfills his own life by sacrificing himself to his pupil Tito.



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