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Siddhartha, by Herman Hesse, portrays the journey every individual faces in life in order to discover who they are and their significance in the world. The novel has especially taken the interest of the younger generation because this “journey” is one that many teenagers can find similarities in. I am going to preserve Hesse 's target of a younger audience, while also illustrating the climax of the book.
In the chapter, “By The River”, Siddhartha leaves the town after realizing he has been plagued by greed and lust and escapes to the River and finds himself reflecting upon his past. Teenagers are able to seize this scene because they too have been in predicaments where they have forgotten to become an individual rather than trying to conform. The overwhelming feelings of loneliness and personal frustration lead Siddhartha into juggling the thoughts of life and death in his head. Making this scene into a personal speech, much like a soliloquy, will give the audience a vivid insight of Siddhartha's psychological struggles (unstable, confused, and lonely). It is in human nature for an individual to contradict their personal beliefs or ideas at one point in their life. For example, lecture about the importance of not judging others, but find themselves scrutinizing an individual they have never seen before. The guilt and discontent feeling one experiences is caused by realization of their own mistake and hypocrisy, which is exactly how Siddhartha feels after reflecting by the River. Time is an illusion in this novel, continuously referring to the past and the future, but never the present. In the soliloquy, Siddhartha will use time to show the regression of the character despite the fact that the world continues to move forward during his psychological decomposition. It is time that places an emphasis of personal disappointment. The feeling of disappointment that Siddhartha experiences is revealed through the use of satiric irony to show the hypocrisy of the character and how Siddhartha has allowed temptation to push him away from Nirvana. Towards the end, it is the theme of time that reveals to Siddhartha the importance of accepting the present to achieve his goal of Enlightenment.
Siddhartha is written in the style of an ancient saga or epic, where the individual endures a religious quest or relics of the past. Readers have suggested that Herman Hesse, influenced by his intensive studies of Indian religious literature, divided the book into two parts, of four and eight chapters in order to symbolize the Four Nobel Truths and the Eight-Fold Path (teachings of Buddha)( Hesse 3). The element of nature is evident because this setting is placed right next to the River, which symbolizes the cycle of life, as well as the opportunity of reflection. The sudden thought of submerging himself in the River reflects the symbol of time, presenting an end to Siddhartha's life. The sudden experience of self-reflection revives Siddhartha's initial intentions of leaving home, which was for self-discovery. Hesse 's sentence structure is based off of rhythm, like the chants and prayers of preachers and story tellers, which is depicted through the repetition of words and phrases in this chapter. This soliloquy presents a dreamlike, almost hypnotic experience for readers and listeners of the story. I will demonstrate the changes in vocal volume by using pauses. The up- and-down like movement of Siddhartha's thoughts resembles the mental instability he faces throughout the novel.
I purposely chose the chapter “By the River” because it is the climax of the story and engages readers into understanding Hesse 's theory of valuing a person's significance as an individual. I am attempting to focus on how the River has influenced the character as well as the importance of personal discovery through firsthand experience of failure. Word count: 620
I must take leave from that town, for it has stolen from me time I cannot get back. How could I have wasted so much time? Years I spent in that wretched town searching for an answer.
Has it really come to the point where I cannot even recall what I was searching for in the first place? Why can I no longer hear the songbird singing the tunes to my heart? Where are the pulses of my heart?
(Stares into the River and slaps it with his hand)
O what have I done! I am saturated into misery; I am saturated into a weariness that is invading my body day by day. There is no such existence of what those town people call relief. They deceived me. I deceived myself! I must rid myself of this engulfing passion for only an end can bring forth the radiance of my infinite pleasure!
(Scampers around the vegetation near the River)
If I should find the poison in this foliage, I will dismiss myself into oblivion and disregard the blunders of my life! The purpose of my journey has become foolish for I have given in to the temptations of lust and money! I have been succumbed and distracted by material obsession with no value! My own permission to do so has ruined me! I have disfigured any previous paths to return and any possible paths to advance.
Tell me! Is it possible for me to truly live, breathe, eat, and sleep again? Is it possible for a lifestyle so depleted to become rejuvenated into its true purpose?
(Looks across the riverbank)
I was merely a child when I crossed this river. How pathetic of me to return even more weak and less significant than before. Oh how my life is now overcome by distress and a lack of importance. I am unimportant. But…
Is it that far beyond repair? No! No…What am I saying?
(Throws himself next to the river and strokes the water with his fingers)
I must end it and I will meet my end where all life begins. This Ccystal clear water mirrors nothing back to me as the cold breeze carries off the remains of my soul. It is alone, it is empty, it is coming to a closure. I have become the man I have always despised! I have become the man who reeks with the stench of a lifeless rotting body, abused in all possible ways! Let all the demons and gods devour me into exactly what I am! Nothing! It is over.
(Slowly allows himself to fall closer to the water with his eyes closed)
(Opens his eyes)
Was that- No it could not be.
Om…Om… Om …
(Flutters around to pull himself up from the riverbank)
Look at me! What am I thinking? I have been so confused. I have been so blinded. I have sought childish wishes to solve my times of disillusionment and despair. I have forgotten all that was divine. My soul has taken a quest in search of an answer to my role on this earth. How could I have allowed the disparity I brought upon myself lead me to pursue death?
(Breathes in slowly)
Life cannot be destroyed…
Life is indestructible…
Om…Om… Om …
All that is divine shall be replenished back into my soul… This journey is only the beginning. I am my only hope.
(Looks into the River)
The past is now hidden under a veil and for a long time I have desired to make that possible. The past is an incarnation of my present Self. Savor this person you see looking back at you. You remember those hands, those feet, that soul. Remember who you were and recognize who you are now, self-willed and renewed
Om… Om …
(Falls asleep under the coconut tree)