Siddhartha Essay: Use of Form, Symbolism, and Conflict

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Use of Form, Symbolism, and Conflict in Siddhartha

Hermann Hesse uses the literary devices of form, symbolism, and conflict to develop his novel, Siddhartha.

Hermann Hesse's novel, Siddhartha, "is a novel of classical symmetry, a perfection achieved" (Hermann Hesse 25). It tells the story of a young man who sets out to find his true self. Throughout his journey, Siddhartha converts to various religions, searching for the one religion that will help him discover his identity. As his journey continues, the main character is forced to overcome various obstacles in pursuit of his true self. He learns the ways of reality and its many flaws. As the story progresses, he comes across a river inhabited by Vasudeva,
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For example, in the third chapter, Siddhartha realizes that Buddha, whom he calls Gotama or "the Illustrious One," has failed to quench his thirst for truth and knowledge. His journey will then lead him, in the fifth chapter, to Kamala and a life of darkness and self-destruction. It is in the fourth chapter, entitled "The Awakening," in which Siddhartha decides he must seek a new solution to satisfy his spiritual hunger; here, Hesse's use of the interlude chapter signals this transition in Siddhartha's quest. Each of the interludes sums up the previous three chapters while setting the stage for the next three. They enable Hesse to develop two major characteristics of novel, transition and foreshadowing.

Hesse's next method of development is through the use of symbolism. A reoccurring smile appears at various times throughout his novel. The smile represents fulfillment, as exhibited when Siddhartha discovers his true self. This symbol also serves as "the visual manifestation of the inner achievement" (Hesse: A Study in Theme and Structure 171). The smile is seen at the end of the novel with Govinda, who is elated by Siddhartha's newfound happiness. It reappears with Buddha, who represents the height of fulfillment. This use of symbolism helps Hesse in his development by illustrating Siddhartha's
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