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Siddhartha

Hermann Hesse

Key Facts

Important Quotations Explained

Study Questions and Essay Topics

full title ·  Siddhartha

author · Hermann Hesse

type of work · Novel

genre · Spiritual and Religious Novel

language · German

time and place written ·  19191921, Switzerland

date of first publication ·  1922

publisher · Bantam

narrator · An unnamed narrator tracks Siddhartha’s spiritual progress.

point of view · Third-person omniscient. The point of view follows Siddhartha most closely.

tone · Measured without being detached; formal

tense · Past

setting (time) · Concurrent with the life of Buddha, estimated at around 625 b.c.

setting (place) · India

protagonist · Siddhartha

major conflict · Siddhartha searches for total spiritual enlightenment.

rising action · Siddhartha experiments with different teachers and approaches to Nirvana, and when they prove unsatisfactory, he turns his search inward.

climax · Siddhartha finally achieves total spiritual understanding as he sits beside Vasudeva and listens to the river.

falling action · Siddhartha meets Govinda and shares the Nirvana he has attained.

themes · The search for spiritual enlightenment; inner vs. exterior guidance; the wisdom of indirection

motifs · Love; Om; polarities

symbols · The river; the ferryman; the smile

foreshadowing

 · Siddhartha’s sloughing-off of his father’s traditional Brahmin beliefs foreshadows Siddhartha’s future loss of his own son.
 · Siddhartha’s observation to Govinda that not even the eldest of the Samanas has attained Nirvana, and Govinda’s subsequent dismissal of the statement, foreshadows Govinda’s inability to find Nirvana by following the teachings of others.
 · The first appearance of the peaceful ferryman, whom Siddhartha encounters on his way to the city, foreshadows Siddhartha’s own future as a ferryman and as a man of total spiritual peace.

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The bird in the cage

by rccarlson, September 03, 2013

Siddhartha dreamed the bird died in the cage, which symbolizes what will happen to him if he continues his path of samsara. When he leaves, a real bird is released by Kamala. Therefore, the bird represents Siddhartha leaving the prison of samsara and chosing a life outside of the cage, rather than a life of pleasure and comfort inside the cage.

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