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Siddhartha. Herman Hesse An introductory lesson by J. Lane at the Middlesex County Academy. Plot Synopsis.

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Herman Hesse

An introductory lesson by J. Lane at the Middlesex County Academy

plot synopsis
Plot Synopsis

Siddhartha, a young man, leaves his family for a contemplative life. After becoming restless, he discards it for one of the flesh. Later he becomes bored and sickened by lust and greed and decides to move on again. Near despair, Siddhartha comes to a river where he hears a unique sound. This sound signals the true beginning of life - the beginning of suffering, rejection, peace and finally wisdom.

herman hesse
Herman Hesse

Read about the life of author Herman Hesse:

  • List 10 facts about Herman Hesse’s life.
  • What inspired him to write Siddhartha?
the real siddhartha
The Real Siddhartha

Read about the life of the real Siddhartha:

  • What 10 aspects of Siddhartha’s life

can be viewed as admirable?


Read the notes on the history of Siddhartha:

Go to:

Search term = Siddhartha +Herman Hesse

  • What overall theme(s) regarding spirituality does Hesse present in his novel regarding life and enlightenment?
  • How did Hesse come to this realization?
siddhartha religion
Siddhartha & Religion

While searching for self realization, Siddhartha will encounter many teachings and will not conform or devote to any one of the religions of his time. To better understand the novel Siddhartha, review the following slides for information on Buddhism, Hinduism and Jainism (which Siddhartha follows with the Samanas). These are the teachings that assist Siddhartha in gaining his final perspective on life.


Go to the following websites for information on Hinduism and the caste system.

Go to:

Search term: Hinduism, caste system

  • What are the basic teachings of the Hindu religion?
  • What is the caste system?
  • What are Brahmins?

Search this site for information on Jainism:

Go to:

Search term: Jainism

  • What are the basic teachings of Jainism?
Search these sites for information on Buddhism:

Go to:

Search term: Buddhism

What solution did Gotama Buddha find to the question of suffering in the world?

What do Buddhists mean by "Enlightenment?“

How is enlightenment achieved? What steps do individuals have to take?


These quotes will help you understand some of the basic themes in Siddhartha:

“Knowledge can be communicated, but wisdom cannot. A man can find it, he can live it, he can be filled and sustained by it, but he cannot utter or teach it.” - Herman Hesse “The man of power is ruined by power, the man of money by money, the submissive man by subservience, the pleasure seeker by pleasure.” - Herman Hesse


Throughout our journey, like Siddhartha, we have all been confused or felt frustrated with our lives. Write about a time (3-5 paragraphs) when you sought guidance from something or someone and found a positive answer to a question you had. Describe the situation, why you sought the knowledge how your new-found realization helped you.

  • Write in Times New Roman, 12 font, and double space your essay.
  • Grade 1: You will be graded on your individual responses to the questions (class work/homework grade).
  • Grade 2: Your essay must be original, well-written and respond to all aspects of the question (quiz grade).

With this lesson, you have gained some insight into the novel Siddhartha. Remember this information while you read and study the novel. The specific teachings that influenced Siddhartha will help you understand the novel’s deeper meanings.


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  • Websites used to link information