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In my essay I am going to show what extent the interaction of family relations impact the development of the protagonists of the works “Siddhartha” by Herman Hesse, translated by Hilda Rosner and “A Doll’s House” by Henrik Ibsen translated by Peter Watts. I am going to show how different relationships affect and impact the central protagonist’s decision s in both works. I will analyze how various family relations shape the central protagonists and enhance character development. I will also show that even though both plays share similar family relations but each relationship affects the protagonist in a unique way.

Although both protagonists go through their odyssey’s and learn through individual relationships however they both end up on very different terms by the end of it. Finally I will prove that in the case of Siddhartha family relationships is a passing phase that shapes each stage of Siddhartha’s journey in life. However in the case of the “Doll’s House” Nora is living a cocooned like existence woven around her husband by keeping her away from harsh realities of life.

The novel “Siddhartha” starts out on a much disciplined background as Siddhartha a young, well focused Brahmin is brought up in an Ashram under his father’s rules. Siddhartha’s father is a man with high principles and a well-known Brahmin follower for as he runs his Ashram with a great deal of determination. In the “Doll’s House” the protagonist of the play is Nora, who is a young house wife who lives with under her husband, Torvald.

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In both the works you can see a master figure that stands out and they are Siddhartha’s father and Torvald. They both have an immense amount of control over their families and have very high values and ethics and expect things to run according to their way.

At the same time you can see how different Siddhartha and Nora are from each other. Siddhartha is a much developed character who is portrayed through his actions. He is well-organized and a disciplined person who is very much reverent to his family. This is shown in the text when he seeks permission from his father.

“You will die Siddhartha. I will die. And would you rather die than obey your father? Siddhartha has always obeyed his father.”[1]

However Nora is still more of a child and has not completely experienced the ways of life. She does things to deny Torvald by going against his word by eating a few macaroons behind his back. The eating of the macaroons is symbolic to little rebellious acts against her despotized husband. This is seen in the play where the stage directions state saying

“Taking a bag of macaroons from her pocket, she eats one or two”.[2]

Siddhartha begins his odyssey and leaves home to join the holy Samanas. He is accompanied by his great friend, Govinda and they are accepted within the ascetics. This is Siddhartha’s preliminary stage of his ascetic life as he begins to learn and gain a lot from the Samanas. He learns many of the rituals and he practices self denial and learns how to lose himself temporarily. However Siddhartha feels that this is not what he desires as there seems to be no conclusion to this cycle. You can see this in the text when he says:

“What is meditation? What is abandonment of the body…… It is a flight from the Self, it is a temporary escape from the torment of Self.”[3]

He hears about the Buddha and therefore departs from the Samanas in search of more knowledge. At the same time Nora starts out her circuitous journey where she starts to learn a lot from people and falls under the influence of Mrs. Linde, her old friend.

Siddhartha too learns a lot in his path specifically from the Buddha and the Samanas but doesn’t seem to be content as he seeks for more. This can be seen in the text when Siddhartha speaks to Buddha.

“O, perfect one. But according to your teachings, this unity and logical consequences of all things is broken in one place.”[4]

On the other hand with Nora, Mrs. Linde influences her and she brings out many hidden aspects and acts like an eye opener to Nora. Mrs. Linde’s words holds great weight in Nora’s life as she comes to a stage where she wants to substitute or sacrifice her family for living Mrs. Linde’s way of life. This is shown in the text when Nora speaks to her nurse,

“Do you think so? Do you think they’d forget their mamma if she went away altogether?”[5]

Siddhartha is a solitary figure and moves through his journey with an impartial mind. He is like a lone wolf and no matter where is goes he has people around him. In this case family is viewed on a more broad perspective as the people he affiliates with are considered to be his family. Siddhartha is entrapped by the own shackles of his soul and his goal is to break free from it. Whereas Nora is someone who is more dependent on her family as she is more accustomed to be living with a sense of surveillance.

Siddhartha’s encounter with the ascetics beings more a worldlier affair as he moves into a city. He comes across a beautiful courtesan by the name of Kamala from whom he learns the sensual pleasures of life and also imparts his knowledge to her. This stands out through the lines,

“Siddhartha was silent, and they played the game of love…….. whoever learned about love from her. Learned many pleasures, may secrets.”[6]

He also gets introduced to a man named Kamaswami from where is get involved into business matters. Siddhartha has his own elaborate ways to go about business and he has good control financial concepts. At the same time Nora is involved in a great amount of business and is familiar with a man named krogstad. He has leverage over Nora as she owes him some money and had been involved in some illegal acts. Due to Nora not being very experienced she doesn’t know how to handle such matters and lets her emotions take over her actions.

Nora and her husband have a fine marriage however she is familiar with a man called Dr. Rank. They have known each other for a long time and since earlier on Dr. Rank has had feelings for Nora but has never had to nerve to tell her. Nora views Dr. Rank’s life to be a squander and she takes him as a lesson in order to improve her life and not repeating the same mistakes. In terms of realizing, Siddhartha realizes many beliefs and thoughts during this stage. He gets miss-tracked and indulges in the pleasure and stimulation of life however he manages to pull himself together and detaches himself again from this discordant world.

Siddhartha is a person who adapts well to any gives condition. He is a quick learner and is in thirst gaining more knowledge but Nora is a person who is anxious and nervous most of the time. She waits for things to happen and then responds to the situation. She shows she’s strong on the outside but she is yet not completely firm on the inside. This is shown in the text when Nora replies to krogstad after a long heated talk.

“What nonsense! Trying to frighten me like that! I’m not as silly as all that. But… No, it isn’t possible…I did it for love!”[7]

She doesn’t seem to have much faith in her and she can’t keep calm in heated situations. Whereas Siddhartha seems have a calm outlook on matters and is on a much higher metal level that Nora.

After a lot of thought and realization, Siddhartha moves away from this life and lives by the river with a ferryman by the name of Vasudeva. He lives under his roof and lives a very simple and undemanding lifestyle. In the case of Nora she is still living under her husband’s care and does all that is told to her. Siddhartha begins to get closer to Vasudeva and beings to learn from him. Vasudeva can be considered as Siddhartha’s mentor as he helps him think for himself and realize many hidden truths. Vasudeva and Torvald can be viewed as catalysts in the enlightenment of the central protagonists of both works. As Vasudeva helps Siddhartha reach his point of Nirvana, whereas Torvald makes Nora realize and choose just what she thinks is precise for her.

However, they both have different intentions behind this, as it becomes Vasudeva’s aim to guide Siddhartha to the point of awakening. Although in the case of Torvald, it wasn’t anticipated for him to lash out on Nora making her realize what is more important, leading to her walking out on him. Torvald has always treated her like a child and has always dominated Nora and held her under his sway and power.

As you can see through both the works the authors uses every supporting character to enhance and develop the protagonist’s personality and disposition. Each character plays a colossal role on the protagonists, which facilitates them to make their individual resolutions. Towards the end the protagonists of both works end on a very confident and idealistic note. Nora has finally realized what she wants and what it’s worth for, whereas Siddhartha has completed his long awaited journey in the process of seeking enlightenment.

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Family values through Literature. (2020, Jun 02). Retrieved from

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