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The Role Of The River In Siddhartha And The Metamorphosis

1270 words - 5 pages

One can find many similar recurring themes in the novels Siddhartha, by Herman Hesse, and Perfume, by Patrick Suskind. Both authors use an aspect of nature as a symbol, the river. Since the time of the ancient Chinese, Pharaohs, Romans and Greeks, people have believed that the flow of the river represents the flow in one's life. They use the river to symbolise peoples' existence. In both books, the river portrays spiritual aspects that tell the characters' life stories, whether they take place in the past, present, or future, to show the consistency of the river and of life.In Siddhartha, Hesse uses the river to reflect the life cycle of organisms on earth. For example, Vasudeva explains to Siddhartha that the river has taught him that, "everything comes back" (Hesse, 40). Rivers resemble the human cycle of life because they flow, their water evaporates, and then these evaporated particles reappear as rain and continue the flow. Similarly, people do not always exist, but instead their children can go on to produce more children and so on, continuing life's cycle. Furthermore, when Siddhartha meets Vasudeva again, Siddhartha comprehends the significance of the river and explains it to Vasudeva, saying, "[It] is everywhere at the same time, at the source, at the waterfall, at the current, in the ocean, everywhere, and that the present only exists for it, not the shadow of the past, nor the shadow of the future" (Hesse, 87). Not only does the human cycle of life share similarities with the river, but one's life portrays the characteristics of the river as well. One grows from childhood into maturity and into old age only to die or relive another life in the afterworld. Every part of that person's life, whether on earth or in another world, has a reality and presence. So the existence of the river gives a clear parallel to the life of humans.In Perfume, the river appears in every section of the book, serving as a living mirror that reflects the lives of the inhabitants around it. For example, when Baldini gazes at the river from his window, it reflects his deteriorating wealth, " flowing from him; and it was as if he himself and his house and the wealth he had accumulated over many decades were flowing away and he was too old and too weak to oppose the powerful current" (Suskind, 59). The river reflects Baldini's circumstances by serving as a metaphor for Baldini's decline. After a short time period, the river foreshadows Baldini's future prosperity, but only for a limited time. Such as, when Baldini looks at the water, "it seem[s] the direction of the river [has] changed: it...flow[s] toward Baldini, a shimmering flood of pure gold" (Suskind, 65). When one regards the first few words of the quote, one knows that the riches to come last only temporarily, they only "seem" but do not actually exist. Baldini's luck and life expire in the river a few years later, when his apartment building suddenly collapses and falls into the river. By analysing the...

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