Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)

Johann Veraguth

Johann Veraguth (FEHR-ah-gewt), a successful artist with an international reputation. Despite assurances that he is known for exhibitions of his work all over Europe, Veraguth is clearly not involved in the world of fame. Two passions visibly affect him: the intellectual and aesthetic content of his paintings and love for his youngest son, Pierre. He is largely indifferent to his wife, who inhabits the main manor house of Rosshalde, leaving Veraguth to his own domain in his studio. The painter has another son, Albert, who returns to Rosshalde during school vacations. Veraguth shows few open feelings for him; those he shows are negative. Veraguth’s main concern seems to be to obtain legal custody of Pierre, even to the point of being willing to give up any other claims if Adele will agree to a discreet divorce. Gradually made conscious of the need to break with this world of constant tensions, Veraguth is about to agree to leave Rosshalde to sojourn abroad with his lifetime friend Burkhardt.

Adele Veraguth

Adele Veraguth (ah-DEH-leh), the wife of the painter, a proper woman, strongly built and fit but missing any traces of her youth. She maintains all the outward signs of decency in dealing with her estranged husband but, without showing any outward emotion, harbors muted regrets that their relationship has failed. Adele is a protective mother; given the age difference between her two sons by Veraguth, however, this protectiveness is manifested in different ways. When Albert, the older son, loses patience with little Pierre’s fits of jealousy at the thought of his brother receiving...

(The entire section is 699 words.)

The Characters

(Literary Essentials: World Fiction)

The focus throughout the novel is on Veraguth; it is his psychological state in which Hesse is most interested. Veraguth, however, is not presented as a complex, multifaceted character. Rather, he is the artist par excellence—at least as Hesse sees the artist. Although Veraguth tells Burkhardt that Adele was never what he wanted from a wife, that she was too solemn and heavy rather than lively, it becomes clear that Veraguth’s artistic temperament makes him singularly unsuitable for the intimacy that marriage requires. Burkhardt realizes that the dark springs of Veraguth’s art are his inner loneliness and self-torment; it is this which constitutes the source of his power to create as well as the source of the strange sadness which one often sees in great works of art.

The fact that Veraguth can so easily accept the imminent death of his beloved son is one of the indications of the thesis-bound nature of this novel. Indeed, Veraguth senses as soon as the boy becomes ill that he must die, that his death will be that which will finally release him from any human involvement and will leave him free to be the observer and the creator only. His love for Pierre will now become fuel for his art. If Veraguth were presented as a complex and multifaceted human being in a realistic novel, rather than an embodiment of Hesse’s views of the artist’s relationship to life in what is basically the illustration of an aesthetic idea, then such a cold and fatalistic...

(The entire section is 528 words.)


(Great Characters in Literature)

Boulby, Mark. Hermann Hesse: His Mind and Art, 1967.

Field, George Wallis. Hermann Hesse, 1970.

Mileck, Joseph. Hermann Hesse: Life and Art, 1978.

Sorell, Walter. Hermann Hesse: The Man Who Sought and Found Himself, 1974.

Ziolkowski, Theodore. The Novels of Hermann Hesse: A Study in Theme and Structure, 1965.