Siddhartha (literally “he who has achieved his aim”) is a handsome young Indian Brahman who is restless and unhappy with his comfortable village life, and so he decides to become a seeker. Along with his friend Govinda, he becomes a samana, or wandering ascetic. He quickly masters the self-discipline and meditations, but he becomes dissatisfied with the ascetic life, and comes to the village of Savathi to hear the illustrious Buddha preach. Siddhartha is much impressed with Buddha’s teachings but decides that he cannot be content as a disciple and must find his own “way.”
Leaving his friend Govinda to become a Buddhist monk, Siddhartha abandons the monastic life and returns to a large town, where he meets the beautiful courtesan, Kamala. In order to become her lover, he decides to work for a wealthy merchant named Kamaswami. Though Siddhartha is quite successful in business, his real devotion is to Kamala. He learns the arts of love from her and cultivates his taste for sensual pleasures. Gradually he loses his ascetic detachment from the world and comes to love wealth and luxuries for their own sake. He becomes a compulsive gambler and abandons himself to the thrill of winning or losing for high stakes.
One morning, he awakens from a dream unhappy and depressed. He realizes that the pleasures of the world can become as much of an illusion as asceticism. He decides to return to the ferryman on the river and lead a simple life there. Through the old ferryman’s example, Siddhartha finds contentment not through renunciation or sensuality but through love and acceptance of the things of this world.
In Hesse’s religious novel, he offers his own interpretation of Buddhism through the character of Siddhartha, a name often given to the Buddha himself. The proud Siddhartha can never be content in a disciple’s role, but must seek out truth and wisdom himself through his own experience. After the old ferryman Vasudeva teaches him the secrets of the river, the simultaneity, unity, and timelessness of all that exists, Siddhartha achieves the peace he has always sought.
Boulby, Mark. Hermann Hesse: His Mind and Art. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1967. Scholarly study of the major novels of Hesse. The chapter on Siddhartha provides illuminating information on Hesse’s Orientalism. Discusses the work “in the context of Hesse’s movement away from Buddhism” and views it as the culminating point of his art as a novelist.
Field, G. W. Hermann Hesse. Boston: Twayne, 1970. Contains a critical and analytical chapter on Siddhartha.
Otten, Anna, ed. Hesse Companion. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1977. Eight essays on Hesse’s work by various scholars. Theodore Ziolkowski’s essay, “Sid-dhartha: The Landscape of the Soul,” gives an excellent critical analysis of the novel’s Eastern background, plot structure, symbolism, and epiphany. Useful glossary and a bibliography of secondary sources in English.
Shaw, Leroy R. “Time and the Structure of Hermann Hesse’s Siddhartha.” Symposium 11 (1957): 204-224. A close reading of the text, demonstrating how Hesse communicates his vision of Unity through an intricate blending of form and meaning. A perceptive and illuminating analysis.
Timpe, Eugene E. “Hesse’s Siddhartha and the Bhagavad Gita.” Comparative Literature 10 (1969): 421-426. Demonstrates that Hesse was deeply influenced by the Bhagavad Gita (c. first or second century c.e.) when he wrote his book and that Siddhartha’s quest for self-realization follows the path suggested by the Bhagavad Gita.
This handout provides examples and description about writing papers in literature. It discusses research topics, how to begin to research, how to use information, and formatting.
Contributors:Mark Dollar, Purdue OWL
Last Edited: 2017-10-25 10:18:45
What about MLA format?
All research papers on literature use MLA format, as it is the universal citation method for the field of literary studies. Whenever you use a primary or secondary source, whether you are quoting or paraphrasing, you will make parenthetical citations in the MLA format [Ex. (Smith 67).] Your Works Cited list will be the last page of your essay. Consult the OWL handout on MLA for further instructions.
Note, however, the following minor things about MLA format:
- Titles of books, plays, or works published singularly (not anthologized) should be italicised unless it is a handwritten document, in which case underlining is acceptable. (Ex. Hamlet, Great Expectations)
- Titles of poems, short stories, or works published in an anthology will have quotation marks around them. (Ex. "Ode to a Nightingale," "The Cask of Amontillado")
- All pages in your essay should have your last name the page number in the top right hand corner. (Ex. Jones 12)
If you're using Microsoft Word, you can easily include your name and page number on each page by following the these steps:
- Open "View" (on the top menu).
- Open "Header and Footer." (A box will appear at the top of the page you're on. And a "Header and Footer" menu box will also appear).
- Click on the "align right" button at the top of the screen. (If you're not sure which button it is, hold the mouse over the buttons and a small window should pop up telling you which button you're on.)
- Type in your last name and a space.
- Click on the "#" button which is located on the "Header and Footer" menu box. It will insert the appropriate page number.
- Click "Close" on the "Header and Footer" window.
That's all you need to do. Word will automatically insert your name and the page number on every page of your document.
What else should I remember?
- Don't leave a quote or paraphrase by itself-you must introduce it, explain it, and show how it relates to your thesis.
- Block format all quotations of more than four lines.
- When you quote brief passages of poetry, line and stanza divisions are shown as a slash (Ex. "Roses are red, / Violets are blue / You love me / And I like you").
- For more help, see the OWL handout on using quotes.