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Themes in Siddhartha

The major theme of Siddhartha is that happiness comes from spiritual peace. Throughout the novel, the protagonist seeks such peace, which is finally achieved through several different stages of life. The first stage is that of an orthodox Brahmin’s son. In this stage, he reads the scriptures and performs ritualistic sacrifice. The second is an ascetic stage in which he practices the Samana austerity of self-denial.

In the third stage he is caught in the vortex of the material desires of the world, Samsara. The final stage is that of self-realization achieved in the presence of Vasudeva, the erryman. It is through this cycle that Siddhartha discovers the path to salvation, but what is most important is that he undertakes this path on his own. His inner, spiritual peace is singular in A minor theme is that love, both parent/child and male/female, is important.

Parental love is treated in developing the relationship between Siddhartha and his father and is later paralleled by the relationship between Siddhartha and his son. The tension which arises between these relations is also the cause of a deep, abiding love between the parent and the child. In contrast, the relationship etween Siddhartha and Kamala, the courtesan, is limited by its physical nature and is, therefore, unfulfilling, for it is not based on love.

Only when a man and woman base their relationship upon a deep, abiding love does it become permanent and rewarding. Another minor theme explored in the novel is that friendship is very important. It is seen in the early part of the novel in the friendship between Siddhartha and Govinda, his long-time friend. In the second part of the novel this theme is developed in the friendship between Siddhartha and Vasudeva, the ferryman, who nitiates him into the mysteries of spiritual life and whom Siddhartha becomes one with in thoughts and goals.

The dominant mood in Siddhartha is that of joy arising out of contemplation and fulfillment. It is a serene world that the author creates, one of thought and discovery of the mysteries of life. It also has an exalted feel to it, almost Biblical, in its tightly crafted prose and sense of timelessness. Time in the novel is compressed and extended; years may pass with no further development than that it is passing and then a moment will be extended for pages.

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Home » Siddhartha » Themes in Siddhartha

Themes in Siddhartha

Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse tells of a man, Siddhartha, and his search for peace. Siddhartha leaves the Brahmins to become a holy Samamna. He finds no satisfaction in the deprivation, which the Samanas practice, so he leaves their way of life to find the Buddha. The Buddha’s teachings fail to satisfy his desire to find a path to peace, also. He then travels to a town but finds no answers there either. Finally, beside the river, Siddhartha finds peace. There are two main themes in Siddhartha; the father/son theme and the theme of peace and totality.

The theme of father and own can be found at the beginning and end of the novel. Siddhartha leaves his father at the very beginning of the book in order to find the peace he feels he has not achieved by being a Brahmin, and Siddhartha never sees his father again. Siddhartha has a son with a courtesan in the town and has responsibility for him after his mother dies; the boy does not like staying by the river with Siddhartha and runs away, causing Siddhartha the same grief that Siddhartha had caused his own father years ago.

These losses suffered by the by both Siddhartha and his father are all a part of Siddhartha’s journey to achieve inner peace. The theme of peace and totality appears throughout the Siddhartha. Siddhartha’s father performs ablutions in the river and offers sacrifices to the gods in a never ending attempt to achieve peace within himself. The Samanas practice deprivation and attempt to escape the Self through meditation, only to realize that they only achieve totality for a short time.

The Buddha has found peace and vainly attempts to explain to others how they, too, might achieve peace. Siddhartha practices all of these different methods of finding peace, only to realize that he must find his own way to totality. The story of Siddhartha seems to revolve around two unifying themes. The father/son theme connects the beginning and the end while the theme of peace and totality occur throughout the entire book.

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