The Use of Nature in Siddhartha and A Doll’s House
Herman Hesse and Henrik Ibsen make extensive references to and use of nature in their respective masterpieces, Siddhartha and A Doll’s House. This includes the use of nature as imagery, symbolism, and to create a motif. While the objects in nature do differ because of the location of the stories, there is also overlap.
In Siddhartha Herman Hesse refers to two symbols of nature, birds and water, specifically the river. The first reference to a bird is when Siddhartha decides to leave the Buddha. He realizes that he is going through one of many changes, ceasing to be a Samana but unable to go back to being a Brahmin. In response Siddhartha, “shiver[s] inwardly like a small animal, like a bird or a hare, when he realize[s] how alone he [is].” (Hesse 41) That Hesse specifically mentions a bird is significant, because it begins to establish the motif of a bird as a symbol of Siddhartha’s soul.
The second significant bird reference occurs just before Siddhartha leaves Kamala, his lover. Siddhartha falls into a deep sleep and dreams about Kamala’s household; “Kamala kept a small rare songbird in a small golden cage… This bird, which usually sang in the morning, became mute, and as this surprised him, he went up to the cage and looked inside. The little bird was dead and lay stiff on the floor.” (Hesse 82)
During this time Siddhartha lived as a rich, successful businessman. He gambled, drank and ate rich foods. Because we know that the bird is symbolic of Siddhartha’s soul, we know that the dream is a warning to Siddhartha that his soul will soon die. In it the cage is trapping the bird. Similarly, Siddhartha’s life style is trapping him spiritually. He has been corrupted by wealth. It is the wealth, because the cage is gold, a symbol of the wealth and power Siddhartha has.
As a result of this dream, Siddhartha leaves Kamala and his life as a rich man. When Kamala learns this, she releases the songbird, symbolic of how Siddhartha’s soul is now free from the sins sustained by leading a rich life. His soul now lives free of its spiritual cage, allowing Siddhartha to work towards his goal of Nirvana.
Later, Hesse makes another bird reference demonstrating that the bird is symbolic of Siddhartha’s soul. Siddhartha analyzes his life after having the startling dream. He concludes that all of his decisions to this time have been correct, because the “bird in his breast” (Hesse 98) is still alive. Hesse uses the breast, location of the heart, for where the bird lives because it provides more support for the motif that he is creating. Like the previous references, this one establishes that the bird is symbolic of Siddhartha’s soul, because the heart is where the soul “lives.”
Another nature symbol serving as a motif is the river. This motif is used to represent the physical world around Siddhartha and his transition through it. The first reference comes when Siddhartha...