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Siddhartha Essay: Use Of Form, Symbolism, And Conflict

1284 words - 5 pages

Use of Form, Symbolism, and Conflict in Siddhartha  

      Hermann Hesse uses the literary devices of form, symbolism, and conflict to develop his novel, Siddhartha.


Hermann Hesse's novel, Siddhartha, "is a novel of classical symmetry, a perfection achieved" (Hermann Hesse 25).  It tells the story of a young man who sets out to find his true self.  Throughout his journey, Siddhartha converts to various religions, searching for the one religion that will help him discover his identity.  As his journey continues, the main character is forced to overcome various obstacles in pursuit of his true self.  He learns the ways of reality and its many flaws.  As the story progresses, he comes across a river inhabited by Vasudeva, the ferryman, who teaches Siddhartha to find the holy Om by listening to the river.  Finally, Siddhartha becomes satisfied with his newfound religion, which offers him his identity and his true happiness.


        Hesse employs a structured form throughout the novel, dividing the work into three sections, each section containing three chapters.  An interlude follows each section, signaling a change in the character's way of living ( This structure remains uniform throughout the entire novel, helping to establish its framework.


         In dividing his literary work into three sections of three chapters, Hesse uses each section to depict another new beginning in Siddhartha's continuing search for his life's meaning.  The first section deals with Siddhartha's Brahmin beliefs, and as the first section progresses, he continuously moves away from the Brahmin religion.  As a result, he makes a change, leading into the first section's interlude.


        An interlude follows each section of the novel and "serves the function of dissipating and refocusing the energy which is built in the preceding three chapters" (  For example, in the third chapter, Siddhartha realizes that Buddha, whom he calls Gotama or "the Illustrious One," has failed to quench his thirst for truth and knowledge. His journey will then lead him, in the fifth chapter, to Kamala and a life of darkness and self-destruction. It is in the fourth chapter, entitled "The Awakening," in which Siddhartha decides he must seek a new solution to satisfy his spiritual hunger; here, Hesse's use of the interlude chapter signals this transition in Siddhartha's quest. Each of the interludes sums up the previous three chapters while setting the stage for the next three.  They enable Hesse to develop two major characteristics of novel, transition and foreshadowing.


        Hesse's next method of development is through the use of symbolism.  A reoccurring smile appears at various times throughout his novel.  The smile represents fulfillment, as exhibited when Siddhartha discovers his true self.  This symbol also serves...

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