Siddhartha Essay Research Paper APHonors Book notefor

Siddhartha Essay, Research Paper AP/Honors Book note for Siddhartha Authorial Background *Herman Hesse was born in the Black Forest town of Calw, Germany in 1877.

Siddhartha Essay, Research Paper

AP/Honors Book note

for Siddhartha

Authorial Background

*Herman Hesse was born in the Black Forest town of Calw, Germany in 1877.

*Herman was the son and grandson of Protestant missionaries who had served in India.

*He was expected to follow in their footsteps by preparing for the ministry.

*He tried, but experienced a religious crisis, fled the seminary and attempted suicide.

*Hesse’s first major novels displayed some major themes that were to absorb him throughout his career

-1st Theme

The dichotomy between the two worlds, the drab mundane external world of business and the shining, inner world of art and spirit.

-2nd Theme

The tortured adolescent who is cruelly oppressed by the “system,” usually the expectations of his parents and teachers.

*In his last twenty years, Hesse lived in seclusion and published little. He died in 1962, just before his works became popular in the United States.

Literary period/country

*Contemporary/Ancient India




-Main character in action

-He is stubborn in his quest and yet honored by his community and relatives.


-Siddhartha’s psychological alter ego

-Main character’s friend who provides opposing ideas and thoughts.

-He cares about his dear friend as he follows him throughout most of his quest.

*Gotoma (Buddha)

-Admired as the distinct holy one and as a great idol among the Hindus.

-Open Govinda’s eyes, allowing him to seek his own path of peace which he finds through Buddha.

-Buddha is a peaceful man who is wise in his own teachings.


-Siddhartha’s lover and concubine

-Siddhartha’s motivation in his new materialistic lifestyle.

-Is the mother of Siddhartha’s son.

-She is a seductive women who is desired by Siddhartha


-Siddhartha’s mentor and newfound friend

-Teaches Siddhartha that peace can be found through the river.

-Vasudeva is a wise man who is straight forward with his comments and actions.

*Little Siddhartha

-Siddhartha’s son

- He is not content with his father’s accommodations and material possessions.

-Accustomed to the higher things in life

-Little Siddhartha is spoiled and disrespectful when he does not get what he wants.


*Ancient India, sometime in the life of the historical Buddha in the sixth century B.C.

*The three main settings for the action

-The village of Siddhartha’s youth

-The town where he meets Kamala and Kamaswami

-The River

*The three settings correspond to the chronological structure of the novel; Siddhartha’s youth, middle age, and finally his old age.


*Material vs. spiritual worlds

-This is shown to the reader when Siddhartha encounters the spiritually dignified aura of a Samana and the indulgent world of a merchant.

-Siddhartha finds that they are clearly distinct from one and another and he must choose either of the paths in order to speak the holy “Om” and be one with himself.

*Fathers loose their sons

-Siddhartha finds that he is unpleasant when he seeks the path already laid out before him by his father and his great Brahmin community.

-Being a young stubborn man, Siddhartha leaves his father to do what he finds pleasing and worthwhile.

-Little Siddhartha, however, leaves for a different reason. He finds the accommodations that were provided for him by his father to be unpleasing and lacking the essential creature comforts.

Plot Summary

Siddhartha is a young boy with an extravagant future ahead of him. With much of his education completed, the young Brahmin finds discontentment within himself. His vessel has not been overflowed with knowledge. He questions all the love and honor provided by his community and family and dear friend Govinda.

With this thirst of knowledge and quest for absolute peace, Siddhartha leaves his father after his act of stubbornness. He later joins the distinctly different Samanas. Here he learns the arts of fasting, thinking, and waiting. But after a time of restless self-denial, Siddhartha decides to leave. He hears about the Illustrious One. This man they call Gotoma or Buddha is supposedly a wonderful teacher incorporating all the methods of teaching.

Govinda finds the man to be pleasing and wise with his thoughts and sermons on doing away with suffering. Siddhartha, however, finds the one and only break in the chain. Siddhartha’s question of how to find peace was not answered by this holy man. Leaving Govinda behind, Siddhartha enters his awakening. Siddhartha has done away with his spiritual world and enters the newly pleasing materialistic world. With a motivation from his newfound friend, Kamala, Siddhartha becomes a wealthy merchant who finds pleasure in gambling and acts of romance. Gradually as this life passes by he becomes like the people who surround him, enveloped in themselves. While resting in the mango grove, Siddhartha found joy after reminiscing about his prior life. His path was before him once again.

He left the material world in search of this peace which he found in a river. Coming across the river for a second time, Siddhartha meets a wise and peaceful man by the name of Vasudeva. Siddhartha becomes his student and lifelong friend. Vasudeva teaches Siddhartha how to understand all the voices provided by the river. While living with Vasudeva Siddhartha learns of his son when he meets with his lost love, Kamala. She, however, dies because of a snake bite. Little Siddhartha is forced to stay with his father but he is not content with the life provided. So he embarks on a journey to regain all his creature comforts.

After Little Siddhartha leaves, Siddhartha meets up with Govinda. Govinda finds that Siddhartha is a holy man and he has obtained peace.

Author’s unique style

*Point of view

-Third person limited; but sometimes varies to third person omniscient

*The use of Bildungrosroman, which is a novel that portrays the spiritual education of a young protagonist as he confronts moral and intellectual crises which prepare him for entering the world as a responsible adult.

-Could be considered an allegory

-Action is narrated chronologically, but sometimes uses flashbacks and foreshadows

Quote Section

*”When someone is seeking,” said Siddhartha, “it happens quite easily that he only sees the thing that he is seeking.” (Page 140)

-Whenever someone has a goal or is seeking something they usually become caught up in what they are doing and are unable to absorb their surroundings.

*”Wisdom is not communicable. The wisdom which a wise man tries to communicate always sounds foolish.” (Page 142)

-Wisdom is something unexplainable. You neither learn wisdom or hear about it. Wisdom comes from past experiences. It can be used in explaining something, but you can never explain wisdom itself.

*”Listen my friend! I am sinner and you are a sinner.” (Page 143)

-You can not judge someone for you have committed just as atrocious sins as they have.

*”I must confess, my friend, that I do not differentiate very much between thoughts and words.” (Page 146)

-How can one differentiate? What you speak is usually done consciously. Your thoughts are only communicated through your speech.

*”Many people have to change a great deal and wear all sorts of clothes.” (Page 141)

-This excerpt refers to your personality and mind set. You constantly change to please yourself and the people around. You also change to adapt your lifestyle.



-Well known persons, places, events, or literary or artistic works.

-Hesse uses allusions to myths, practices, terminology, social structure, and sacred scriptures of classical Hinduism.


-Surprising, interesting, or amusing contradictions or reversals

-It is ironic that Siddhartha leaves his father just as his son does the same to him.


-A writer’s typical way of writing

-Use of figurative language

-Rhythm, etc.

-Hesse uses a poetic quality, repetitions, symbols, and extended similes.


-Concrete image which has its own independent meaning, but in addition suggests a further meaning.

-Many characters, places, and events in the novel have a symbolic meaning.

-The river plays the role as a place of transition, a concrete image for the abstract idea of timelessness, and a teacher of the unity of all things.


-The author’s attitude toward his audience, characters, or subject.

-Hesse has a dignified yet personal tone.


-Mood or overall feeling created in the reader by literary work or passage

-Hesse creates a holy yet hedonistic feeling.


-Noun; ropes, mats, etc.

-Siddhartha went into the room where his father was sitting on a mat made of bast. (Page 10)


-Verb; to soil

-Was there any kind of filth with which he had not besmirched himself, any sin and folly which had not committed, any stain upon his soul for which he alone had not been responsible? (Page 88)


-Adjective; self-denying or austere

-He had heard that this alleged Buddha had formerly been an ascetic and had lived in the woods, had then turned to high living and the pleasures of the world, and he held no brief for this Gotoma. (Page 21)


-Adjective; lacking enthusiasm

-He loved this feeling and continually sought to renew it, to increase it, to stimulate it, for in this feeling alone did he experience some kind of happiness, some kind of excitement, some heightened living in the midst of his satiated, tepid, insipid existence. (Page 79)