Siddhartha. By: Herman Hesse. Setting.
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By: Herman Hesse
At first the setting of Siddhartha is in a Brahmin house in an Indian village. Then Siddhartha and Govinda leave their Indian village to go to the forest where the Samanas live. Then the setting switches to the Jetevana groove where Siddhartha and Govinda listen to the sermon of Gotama, Siddhartha then crosses a river and comes to a city where Kamala lives. He realizes the material world is slowly killing him with out providing him with enlightenment so he wanders in search of the river, Siddhartha lives by the river, studies it, and learns the many secrets the river has to tell.
Siddhartha grows up with his friends Govinda in a small village in India. They are taught to believe in ancient Hindu teachings by Siddhartha’s father, yet the young man becomes restless and decides to go out and explore the world to find answers to his questions. The ancient Hindu teachings seem silly to him, and according to Siddhartha, they offer inadequate explanations of the ways of the world. Govinda leaves the village with him for different reasons; he admires Siddhartha’s intelligence and hopes that he shall become successful by staying with him. As his “shadow,” following him wherever he goes. They both lead lives as wandering Samanas, self- exiles of society living in self-denial. They suppress all bodily desires by fasting, breathing control, and living in poverty; only the natural world is embraced as truth, and meditation is practiced regularly. After three years, Siddhartha grows weary of this life, too, and decides to accompany Govinda to visit the Buddha in Savathi.
Govinda becomes a disciple of Buddha while Siddhartha continues his journey alone, still wishing to understand the world for himself since all teachings have failed to accomplish this, including the ancient beliefs of the Hindus and this new religions of Buddha. However, Siddhartha wishes to have the enlightenment that Buddha has attained by listening to the voice of his Self instead of denying it. Humiliated by his wickedness, Siddhartha contemplates suicide near a river but stops after seeing his reflection in the water and being reminded of his innocent childhood. Falling asleep after this depression, he awakens to see Govinda nearby, who has remained Buddha's disciple all this time and has not changed at all. Siddhartha has changed so much that Govinda doesn’t even recognize him and is disgusted to see his rich clothes. Govinda leaves; Siddhartha decided s to remain near the river and live with the ferryman, and Vasudeva. After living a life of self-denial and then experiencing sins for himself, Siddhartha finally finds wisdom about the world. Vasudeva teaches him how to listen to the quiet sounds of the river and he realizes that the world is simply a recurring cycle. Nothing really changes at all.
His selfish ego destroyed, Siddhartha realizes the unimportance of one’s self since his life is a part of the greater unity of things that is “Om.” Vasudeva dies and Siddhartha is left to row the ferry himself. After a few years, old Govinda appears again, wishing to learn from Siddhartha's wisdom. Govinda has remained unchanged, a devout disciple of Buddha, for he has not experienced the world like Siddhartha. Siddhartha’s smile and face have finally become much like that of the Buddha, although he had never been Buddha’s disciple. Govinda is stunned at Siddhartha’s transformation but remains confused as to how he has achieved enlightenment. Govinda has been devout, faithful, and subservient while Siddhartha led a life of sin before coming to peace. These two old mean meet there at the river’s edge; one has progressed and found meaning in life, and the other has spent life festering, by blindly following the teachings of another rather than teaching himself by trail and error.
Siddhartha- The protagonist, who is sent out on an enlightenment quest
Vasudeva- The enlightened ferryman who guides Siddhartha to an understanding of himself and the universe.
Govinda- Siddhartha’s best friend and his follower at points
Kamala- She has a relationship with Siddhartha and ends up dying of a snake bit, revealing Siddhartha is the father of her child
Gotama- Enlightened religious figure
Kamaswami- An old businessman who teaches Siddhartha the ways of business
Siddhartha’s Father- Respected Brahman and Siddhartha’s father
Young Siddhartha- Siddhartha’s son with Kamala
The Samanas- Traveling ascetics who believe that a life of deprivation and wandering is the path to self-actualization.
The major conflict is Siddhartha does not know how to find self. Siddhartha is the protagonist and hi goal is to become enlightened by finding self. Kamaswam:, means the master of the material world and is the antagonist because he pushes Siddhartha away from his goal by tempting him. Kamala also contributes to Siddhartha not reaching his goal because she makes him become a merchant if he wants to be with her. Vasudeva helps Siddhartha reach his goal by leading him on the path to find self.
Siddhartha with the help of Vasudeva, the ferryman, becomes enlightened and finds self. The river represented his journey to find self and the ferryman was his guide. The river showed enlightenment is not a straight path but one with bends and curves. Siddhartha also learns that it is important to love all because on the path to enlightenment everyone needs help and to work together, like the river has many water molecules working together to create the giant flowing river. Once Siddhartha finds self Vasudeva leaves and Govinda comes to cross the river. Siddhartha tells him all he has learned.
Resolution of Conflict
Siddhartha is continuously on the path to enlightenment through the pursuit of truth. His quest for these truths are central in the novel, and the paths of other characters to enlightenment support the theme also. IN Siddhartha, it becomes apparent that one can only reach truth through self, enlightenment cannot be taught, it comes from within.
In the end other the novel, Siddhartha comes to this realization, that enlightenment can be taught by no one and he finds it within himself.
Govindas path to enlightenment consisted of following the teachings of others and he was therefore constricted to the beliefs of his teachers. Govinda has more difficulty in reaching his goals than Siddhartha.
Vasudeva reaches enlightenment not through the teachings of others, but through something intangible, the river. Through the cycles shown to him in the river, he finds the truth in himself.
Siddhartha finds through his experiences that love is the most important thing in life. In the end of his journey, he realizes that you must love everything in life and that love is essential to being happy. Siddhartha finds love in many of the other characters thought out the novel.
Through Kamala, Siddhartha is taught physical love and Kamala in turn, loves Siddhartha until her death.
Through Govinda, Siddhartha finds love in friendship and teaches Govinda that love is all important. Govinda then finds love and internal peace through Siddhartha.
Siddhartha also loved his son deeply, and desperately seeks the happiness that other people felt from their children. However, this love was unrequited; Young Siddhartha rejected his father’s love just as old Siddhartha rejected his father’s love before him.
1.) “His heart was not indeed in business. It was useful in order to bring him money for Kamala, and it brought him more that he really needed. Moreover Siddhartha's sympathy and curiosity lay only with people, whose work, troubles, pleasures, and follies were more unknown and remote from him than the moon.” Siddhartha is a man that doesn’t experience the woes and other concerns like most people. He is living a life without woes.
2.) Siddhartha tests the religious philosophies he discovers on his quest for enlightenment. His most defining characteristic is his desire for spiritual understanding of himself and the world.
3.) At the end of the novel, Siddhartha is characterized as an enlightened character in the novel.
1.) He teaches Siddhartha and provides him with the friendship he needs. Vasudeva is his mentor and helps him to learn to listen to things around him in nature such as the river, the voice of life and Om in learning to listen he is able to achieve enlightenment. In achieving enlightenment he can understand not only himself, but also the universe.
2.) When Vasudeva and Siddhartha first met. Vasudeva was a kind man who allowed him to cross the river for free.
3.) Vasudeva shows Siddhartha the good in people, and makes him think about things more.
“ I had to become a fool again in order to find Atman in myself. I had to sin in order to live again. Wither will my path yet lead me? This oath is stupid it goes in spirals, perhaps in circles, but which ever way it goes I will follow it.”
Siddhartha is now at a point in his life when he realizes his mistakes and how crazy the course of his life has been. He knows that things happen for a reason so wherever the path leads he will follow it. It may go in circles or spirals but will eventually lead to the right place.
This is significant because it shows Siddhartha’s views on his life and shows that he understand why things had happened; it’s just the way his life was supposed to be. Sinning in order to live again talks about the times in Siddhartha’s life when he felt he was losing himself, like the temptation with Kamala and the money in the business world. These things all led to him living by the river with Vasudeva where he was in a way born again.
“Siddhartha’s previous lives were also not in the past, and his death and his return to Brahma are not in the future. Nothing was, nothing will be, everything has reality and presence.”
Siddhartha was content because he had finally found what Vasudeva called “secret from the river.” That is that there is no such thing as time.” The river isn’t going anywhere, it just is; everywhere. That is the same with Siddhartha’s life. He couldn’t dwell on what was in the past or have fear of what would or could happen in the future. He had to live for the present.
Vasudeva was happy that Siddhartha finally found out these secrets and conquered time. Now he could live peacefully.
City: chapter 6 & 7- Place of considerable size, densely populated wealthy people reside there, home to business and industry
Symbolizes: desire and temptation, many people live there because they have fallen into the trap of desire, Kamala, “god of desire", resides in the city, Kamaswami, “master of the material world", also resides in the city
River: Chapter 8- place in the middle on Siddhartha’s journey where he figures out which direction to go in and the turning point in the book.
Symbolizes: Siddhartha’s journey, a journey that twists and turns and gets off track and spills over the side just as the river does. “The River” is the title of this chapter because it symbolizes that Siddhartha is coming back to his journey.