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Siddhartha Essay, Research Paper

Authorial Information – Herman Hesse was born in 1877 in a rural part of Germany. He lived in a ministry and was expected to devote his life to his religion. He however left the ministry in 1892. When he was expelled from high school he started work at a German bookstore. In 1919 he moved permanently to Switzerland and released many books. One of his last books, Magistar Ludi, won him the Nobel Prize in 1946. He lived in seclusion in Switzerland until his death in 1962.

Author’s Unique Style – Herman Hesse uses dreams to foretell what stage of his life he is going to next. He also uses images of the river to represent the rivers knowledge and wisdom.

Setting – Siddhartha takes place in India during the time of Buddha. At that time both Buddhism and Muslim were the dominant religions of India.

Theme – The theme of the story is that you can’t follow a guide to happiness, or in Siddhartha’s case, peace.

Characters –

Siddhartha- Siddhartha is a young handsome Brahmin when the story starts out. He becomes infatuated with the believe of total peace, and goes about trying to obtain it. At the end of the story he obtains inner peace.

Govinda- Govinda is Siddhartha’s best friend. He also is striving to obtain inner peace. He follows Siddhartha for a while, but eventually goes to follow Buddha. Towards the end Govinda meets up with Siddhartha and discovers that he has obtained peace.

Vasadava- Vasadava is the old ferryman that has obtained the peace that Siddhartha has striven to obtain. He learns all that he knows about spirituality and peace from the river. At the end Vasadava leaves into the woods to die in peace.

Kamaswami- Kamaswami is the rich merchant that employees Siddhartha at one time. He is driven only by money and greed. Not much is said of Kamaswami except that he loses his star merchant Siddhartha.

Kamala- Kamala is the prostitute that teaches Siddhartha of physical love. She is driven by money, but is also very spiritual. When Siddhartha leaves her she closes her business and joins the Buddhists. When she makes a visit to see Buddha she meets with Siddhartha. While they are talking she gets bitten by a poisonous snake and dies.


Symbolism- Using things to represent something else. The snake represented stages of Siddhartha’s life.

foreshadowing- To tell or suggest some event in the future. The dreams Siddhartha had were foreshadowing the changes in his life.

conflict- A struggle between two or more forces. The main conflict was Siddhartha’s struggle with himself as to how to obtain inner peace.

Quest- A seeking or inquiring. Siddhartha was on a quest to find peace.

Dynamic Character-

Siddhartha, an Indian novel by Herman Hesse, is about a man who struggles to gain inner peace. He goes through many lifestyles and teachers and learns that no one can tell him how to obtain peace or happiness, but that he must discover it by himself.

During his childhood he was a Brahmin, which is a high religious class in the caste system. He was loved by all in his town, but he was still not happy. His elders had already passed most of their knowledge to him, but he still was not satisfied. He left the village to try to obtain peace with the Samanas.

After Siddhartha left the Brahmins he joined the Samana’s. The Samana’s practiced asceticism, which is the act of self-deprecation. Siddhartha and the Samana’s believed that if they could eliminate all physical senses that only the mental thoughts would be left. He practiced this lifestyle for three years before realizing that he was not getting any closer to his goal.

He left the Samanas thinking that depriving himself of all feelings was not working, so he tried the exact opposite. Siddhartha decided to indulge himself in all of life’s physical feelings. He wondered to the first big city he found and met a prostitute named Kamala, who tought him of physical love for a price. Siddhartha was a beggar and had no money, so he had to get a job. He became a merchant with his skills of reading and writing. At first Siddhartha only used his money to pay Kamala and kept his old way of life, but a different lifestyle soon followed. Siddhartha forgot all about his old believes and began to be greedy. This new lifestyle had an effect on his physical and mental well being. He started getting sick and depressed and decided to leave his job and Kamala in search of his original goal, inner peace.

Siddhartha was wondering around in the forest so depressed of his past actions that he decided to kill himself. He was getting ready to commit suicide when his inner voice said “Om”, which means inner peace. So he decided to strive forward in his original quest for inner peace. He met the Ferryman, Vasadava, who taught him to listen to the river. The river brings out in him the one thing he had been looking for his whole life, inner peace.

In conlussion Siddhartha had many teachers: The Brahmins, the Samana’s, Kamala, Kamaswami, and Vasadava. He learned that only he could learn to be at inner peace and not anybody else.

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