In Hermann Hesse’s Siddhartha, the audience follows a young man on his journey to find true enlightenment. Through numerous teachers and many life experiences, the stories main protagonist, Siddhartha, ends the story realizing that true enlightenment is found within one’s self rather than taught from a teacher. Hesse develops his story of a man’s search for himself through the use of symbolism, allegory, and his own personal bias.
Throughout the story of Siddhartha, many symbols are mentioned to the reader and hold a deeper meaning. For example, in chapter seven, Hesse uses a songbird to symbolize Siddhartha’s life. The bird is mentioned during a dream, in which Siddhartha had been living a wonderful life as a rich man for many years. In his dream, the songbird dies. The bird died because Siddhartha had spent too much time as a rich man and learning about reality, rather than learning about himself. Another important symbol used ...view middle of the document...
In chapter one when Siddhartha gains approval to go live among the Samanas, his father says, “…it is time to go to the river and perform the first ablution.” By definition, an ablution is the act of cleaning one’s self. In many cultures this act is used to symbolize a remission of sins, or rebirth in the eyes of God. At times of great transition in his life, such as when he leaves the Samanas, and later when he abandons his wealth, Siddhartha goes back to the river. Eventually, as Siddhartha studies the river he is able to attain enlightenment.
On each step of his journey, Siddhartha encounters many trials and people willing to teach him, and in each chapter, goes through some sort of spiritual awakening. Siddhartha, as a whole, can be read as an allegory in different ways. For example, Siddhartha’s spiritual journey could be said to reflect a greater struggle to resolve his natural preference to ascetic life and intellectualism with his passion to learn through experience. The story can also be seen as an allegory for everyone's spiritual growth. Real wisdom can only be attained by experiencing life for yourself and learning from it, not by being taught second hand.
In his own life, Hermann Hesse sought wisdom and understanding of education. As a child, Hesse was fascinated by Indian culture, mainly because both of his parents spent parts of their lives serving missions in India. Despite his German decent, Hesse does not present a German bias in his works, every though most of his writing occurred during the years of World War II. According to a biography on Hermann Hesse, the Nazi party destroyed part of his works, and he later gave up German citizenship for a Swiss one. This really affects his writing, because rather than showing a German bias and sense of racism, which was common during this time, he had a sense of glorification for the Indian culture and way of life.
Throughout Hermann Hesse’s story of Siddhartha we see the use of symbolism, allegory, and personal bias to convey an idea. While Siddhartha goes on his quest for personal enlightenment and search for inner peace, the audience witnesses the growth of a man. This particular occurrence is further developed by the use of language and deeper meaning.