Study Help Essay Questions


1. What has Joachim's delight about his cousin's arrival at the Berghof in common with his unusual reason for liking music?

2. What is the principal function of the sections "Of the Christening Basin" and "At Tienappels"?

3. During their first encounter, Settembrini compares Castorp to Odysseus. What does this illustrate with regard to the Italian's impression of the sanatorium and with regard to his background?

4. In what sense is the interlude of Herr Albin's attempted suicide characteristic of life at the Berghof?

5. How does Castorp react to the fourteenth-century woodcarving in Naphta's apartment? Contrast his reaction with Settembrini's.

6. Investigate and explain Settembrini's views on music and literature.

7. What is the relationship between Castorp's fascination with certain melodies and his recurring flirtations with death?

8. What is the significance of the two cousins seeing themselves on the X-ray screen in Behrens' office?

9. What is Walpurgis Night in German legend? Why did Mann choose to name the carnival scene that way?

10. Why does Castorp address Clavdia Chauchat in French?

11. What is the significance of the fact that Castorp's vivid snow dream fades away on the very evening of his adventure?

12. Clavdia Chauchat and Mynheer Peeperkorn are both represented as characteristically "Eastern." Which traits form the basis of their relationship?

13. What is the meaning of the Dutchman's suicide?

14. Interpret the connection between Naphta's delight in purely esthetic experience and his terrorism in the light of Nietzsche's philosophy.

15. It has often been remarked that few authors have succeeded in developing two intellectual positions with such accuracy and fervor in the same novel as well as Mann in The Magic Mountain. How does this reflect his notion of reality and his ideas on the task of the modern writer?

16. Discuss the irony of Hans Castorp as a "simple, young man."

17. Compare and contrast attitudes toward disease and death of Settembrini, Naphta, and Hans Castorp.

18. Discuss the Berghof as a symbol of the decadence of European society prior to World War I.

19. Compare the essential evil of Hofrat Behrens and Dr. Krokowski as illustrated in their respective functions.

20. Examine carefully Hans Castorp's two dreams drawing together Pribislav Hippe and Clavdia Chauchat. What is the relationship of these dreams to Castorp's meeting with Clavdia Chauchat in "Walpurgis Night"?

21. How does Hans Castorp (Thomas Mann) try to achieve the humanist ideal of humanity by delving into medical, biological, and astronomical books?

22. Discuss the mystery of time with special emphasis on its aspects of "dimensionless present" and "circular motion."

23. Carefully read and analyze the temptations and hardships of Castorp's ski tour and outdoor sleep in the light of Schopenhauer's renunciation of the will and Nietzsche's affirmation of life.

24. Discuss the fundamental meaning of Castorp's dream in "Snow."

25. Is it possible to reduce the countless religious, historical, and political discussions between Settembrini and Naphta to a common theme? If so, what is it?

26. The last three chapters take up roughly three times as much space as do the first four. Show how this reflects consistency with the author's view of time and its relationship to change.

27. Explain, by means of specific illustrations, the function of leitmotifs in this novel.

28. Pursue Settembrini's arguments in favor of a monistic interpretation of reality by establishing his views on the nature of disease and the power of death.

29. Discuss the war as Hans Castorp's only hope for a meaningful survival.

30. Select Castorp's experiences which you believe may be considered as the most significant milestones on his journey toward greater self-awareness. Be specific and back up your choices.

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