Symbols and Symbolism in Siddhartha - The Snake, the Bird and the River

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Symbols and Symbolism in Siddhartha - The Snake, the Bird and the River

In Herman Hess's, Siddhartha, Siddhartha's constant growth and spiritual evolution is elucidated through the symbolism of the snake, the bird and the river.

As a snake sheds it's skin in order to continue its physical growth, Siddhartha sheds the skins of his past: " he realized that something had left him, like the old skin a snake sheds/ Something was no longer with him, something that had accompanied him right through his youth and was a part of him" (37). In this way Siddhartha leaves his childhood companion, Govinda, and follows the teachings of the Illustrious one. Siddhartha then journeys on alone and feels vulnerable as his past reveals his lost
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Subsequently, he ventures out into the world and explores his senses in a desperate attempt to investigate his spiritual needs. He greets love openly and rests satisfied by the splendors his lover Kamalah. Siddhartha's contentment is terminated as he is presented with a controversial dream. He dreams that Kamala's beloved bird is found dead: " The bird, which usually sang in the morning, became mute and as this surprised him, he went up to the cage and looked inside/ The little bird was dead" (82). Siddhartha's freedom from religion and promiscuous behaviors cease along with the birds death, " he felt horror and death in his heart/ He sat and felt himself dying, withering, finishing" (82). He recognizes the materialistic things including love itself, were insufficient: "Then Siddhartha knew that the game was finished, that he could play it no longer...he smiled wearily, shook his head and said goodbye to all these things" (84). Siddhartha's perpetual search for security and internal happiness ventures on.

Siddhartha is constantly flowing down the river of life, "Certainly I have learned that from the river too; everything comes back/ You, too, Samana, will come back" (49). He sees that life is never stagnant. It is constantly changing, ebbing and flowing. It takes a lifetime to satisfy Siddhartha's hunger for religious fulfillment. Siddhartha is found relating to the river: "A chilly emptiness in the water reflected the
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