Brief analysis of Thus spoke Zarathustra by Nietzsche

Maximilian Rehn
4 min readJan 7, 2020


In this philosophical novel, Nietzsche describes the travels and thoughts of the prophet Zarathustra who descends from the mountains after many years of isolation. He has come down to teach the masses about what he believes to be a new value system for Man.

I enjoy this book because I love the focus on the individual’s journey and could be described as a self help philosophical book of sorts — the meaning behind Nietzsche’s words is to help readers become stronger individuals and not followers of others’ value systems. Nietzsche uses the word Overman or (Übermench) to describe men who adopt and perfect this value system.

The value system that Zarathustra teaches in essence, as I understand it, is the following: that every man should find his own way and explore himself truthfully. Thus becoming free from the shackles of religion and state. Become who you are and act according to that. Zarathustra says: “Genuine deliberate actors are rare, most are unwilling actors or unknowing actors”.

With the previous passage Zarathustra’s preaching wishes to create more deliberate actors who do things for themselves and not because of others or because they are forced to. The action of actually doing something is beautiful in Zarathustra’s eyes — he even says in the novel: “Wisdom forces action — action is beautiful and gives meaning to an otherwise meaningless experience”.

By that passage I believe Zarathustra means that wisdom is knowing oneself truthfully and of one’s surroundings. This wisdom causes the actor to see what they can do and should do to and if they truly understand this then they must do it — they are forced into action by their own Knowledge and Will, so to speak. Zarathustra calls this the Will to Power. There are arguments to be skeptical about the last quote, that experience is meaningless if it does not contain action. However, if you adopt the position that meaning is only created by yourself then you must be creating something in order to attain meaning — and creating is definitely a form of action. To this Zarathustra also says: “Those who remain only watchers can speak of beauty but in reality they are liars — never truly going to give birth to new creation”.

Continuing on this tangent that each and everyone must be individuals and become strong in themselves in order to foster their own strengths and face their own challenges Zarathustra says: “Find Your way, not others’. Don’t take too many foreign burdens and values upon your back.” This passage is more relevant today than ever before. We have access to so many foreign resources, values, and ways via the Internet and there are continuously other forces trying to bestow their will upon us. For example, every day in our consumerist society there are large entities trying to convince us of what values are important in order for us to buy more of certain products. If you do not find your way and truly explore yourself, then the influence of others will lie like a heavy burden upon you and you will probably be as Zarathustra said, an unknowing actor of others’ values. How can you ever see yourself blossom tomorrow if you don’t explore yourself today?

Now how can man do this you might ask? By being honest towards himself and others, becoming a strong individual — learning from experiences but not remaining a student forever. Actually seeing with open eyes and exploring oneself — what do I think, what am I and what do I truly want? In my opinion, two passages by Zarathustra relate brilliantly to this: “One repays a teacher badly if one always remains nothing but a pupil” and additionally, simply: “Become who you are!”.

As previously mentioned, Nietzsche focuses heavily on the individual in this book because he believes strength must come from within and not from other sources. In his time (around 1884) the Church and the State had a lot of influence still. However, Nietzsche quite brilliantly predicted that “God is dead” in this novel (and others), this is very much the case in modern society. The age of Enlightenment has brought scientific rationality to the frontier and lessened spirituality and religion’s influence a lot more. More emphasis is placed on the individual than ever before and responsibility is on the individual to explore these areas and find their own meaning in order to be healthy because the spirituality previously given by religion has largely disappeared, at least as I see it in my community here in Finland.

This does not mean, in my opinion, that the State and the Church are bad things. Simply that if you follow them blindly you have not explored yourself and your own values. If you explore yourself truthfully and find that the State or Church align with your values that’s great — go ahead and do your own thing in accordance with them. However do not simply act like sheep, as Zarathustra says: “He who obeys, does not listen to himself!”.

To sum up, to put Zarathustra’s central teachings with one final quote: “Your virtue is in your own inner child”. Your own will to power will do good for yourself and your surroundings if you do it honestly and virtuously. Aim to evolve beyond the baseness of humanity and its institutions — be yourself.

Photo of Nietzsche by Gustav-Adolf Schultze, 1882



Maximilian Rehn

Change is good. Writing too slowly wastes your time, while writing too quickly wastes your ideas. Writing too long wastes other people’s time, while…