Hermann Hesse’s Siddhartha tells the story of a young man who sets out in search of his true self. Throughout the novel, Siddhartha continues to search for the true meaning of life. He sacrifices everything, almost to the point of self-destruction, before finding what he is really looking for. The element of conflict helps build the plot and leads to the turning point, Siddhartha’s discovery. Siddhartha faces conflicts with his peers, his religion, and himself.
Siddhartha has several conflicts between himself and his peers. Despite Govinda’s love and adoration, Siddhartha knows that he must tell his friend to move on. Siddhartha also meets Kamala, who lessens his character by teaching him to gamble and lust. Siddhartha also encounters Vasudeva, the ferryman, who teaches Siddhartha to listen to the river’s voices. Throughout his journey, Siddhartha faces conflicts with his peers.
Siddhartha also struggles from a religious conflict. He begins his life as a Brahmin, but because of his dissatisfaction, left the religion in hope of finding something more. As a result, Siddhartha becomes a Samana, though later realizing that spirit alone cannot bring complete fulfillment. Finally, Siddhartha escapes from structured religion, discovering his fulfillment and happiness. Siddhartha ultimately solves this recurring dilemma.
Siddhartha’s final conflict remains an internal struggle. Dissatisfied and determined, Siddhartha searches to fill his spiritual void. Despite his many failed attempts, he refuses to give up. Nothing seems to completely fulfill him until meeting Vasudeva and listening to the river. Though this internal conflict continues through the majority of the novel, the main character finally finds a solution.
Siddhartha: The Journey for Inner Peace and Happiness
Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse is about a man’s journey to find inner peace and happiness. He first decides to try to seek peace by following the Samanas, holy men. Then he seeks happiness through material things and pleasures of the body. After this path fails to provide him with the peace for which he searches, he follows Buddha but soon realizes that Buddha’s teaching will not lead him to his goal. Siddhartha finally finds peace when Vasudeva, the ferryman, teaches him to listen to the river.
Hermann Hesse was a German author and poet born in 1877. Both his parents and grandparents were missionaries. His Grandparents were missionaries in China and India-thus began his fascination with the Oriental and Indian culture. “From the time I was a child, I breathed in and absorbed the spiritual side of India just as deeply as Christianity” (Ziolkowski 147). His parents’ piety had a great impact on him as well as his exposure to oriental culture (Baumer 23). This fascination led to his study of oriental philosophies and literature.
From 1911 until 1912 he traveled in India “in search of peace and timelessness beyond the world of western man” (Archie 5). He experienced disappointment, however, because the India that had for so long fascinated him was now “too much profaned by commercial efficiency” (Baumer 44). Soon he realized that “the peace he was seeking and the India he was seeking were not to be reached by ship or train” (Baumer 44). There was some benefit that came from his journey to India, though-he had the inspiration for Siddhartha on this journey.
Hesse uses triadic rhythm to tell the story of Siddhartha (Ziolsowski 54). Siddhartha goes through three stages. The first is the…
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…ies the path of the Buddha, but this path also fails to lead him to the secret of inner peace. In one last attempt to reach the third level and achieve peace, Siddhartha goes to the river to learn its secrets. By learning the secrets that the river holds within its depths, Siddhartha finally reaches the level of totality (Ziolkowski 58).
Archie, John G. “Hermann Hesse’s Siddhartha: An Open Source Reader” January, 2006. Web 27 April 2025.
Baumer, Franz. Hermann Hesse. New York: Frederick Ungar Publishing Co., 1970.
Field, G.W. Hermann Hesse. Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1970.
Hesse, Herman. Siddhartha. Dover Publications, 1998.
Ziolkowski, Theodore. The Novels of Hermann Hesse: A Study in Theme and Structure. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1965.