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The importance of setting in Herman Hesse's Siddhartha

Paper type: Essay
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Setting is a crucial element of any unique or literature, as it can considerably impacts the different elements that contribute to the general story, such meaning, tone, and imagery. In Siddhartha by Herman Hesse, the lead character Siddhartha endeavors on his search and quest for knowledge and encounters lots of new and different settings These setting hold not just value separately, but as a group jointly, serving to supply insight about the author’s purpose and effect he wants to endow on the reader.

The first part of the unique presents various settings that symbolize Siddhartha’s tough path to get Knowledge. The first chapter of Siddhartha is set in a Brahmin family situated in the tranquil and peaceful environment of an Indian village. Hesse explains the setting in the very first line of the book, writing, “In the shade of your home, in the sunlight on the river bank by the boats, in the shade of the sallow wood and the fig tree …” This reveals the beginning of the journey, as throughout the book the setting advances from peacefulness, order, and protected, to a society of disorder, pain, and immorality.

This tranquil atmosphere of the house likewise foreshadows the coming scenes too, which manages a terrific shift to a brand-new environement that Siddhartha has never ventured into. As the Samanas arrive to the town, Siddhartha decides to leave, shifting the scene to the forest where the Samanas live austere and impecunious lives, practicing self-denial and mediation to advance their knowledge.

Here, in the forest, arises Siddhartha’s first challenges and hardships, as he encounters the harsh elements of nature. “Siddhartha stood in the fierce sun’s rays…stood in the rain….he crouched among the thorns.” Thus, the contrast is easily seen from his home environment, where Siddhartha had never felt pain and suffering, to the forest, where he endures physical stress in order to obtain his goal of Enlightenment. However, Siddhartha becomes discontent with his surrounding again, making him desire to move on to meet the Buddha as he feels that he can no longer gain knowledge from the ascetics in the forest. The third chapter takes place in the Jetavana grove, in Savathi town, which Hesse describes as “The shady gardens were like a town, swarming with bees,”.

This town is similar to his home, symbolic of Siddhartha’s return to the beginning. As it is seen later on, this return to the beginning represents Samsara, the endless cycle of pain through rebirth, until Enlightenment is reached. This concept of rebirth is further supported as Siddhartha once again moves on to another town by the river. Here, Siddhartha experiences the materialistic aspects of life, showing once again his procession into new areas of society he had never before encountered. Yet, as the first part ends and the second part begins, Siddhartha’s physical journey ends, and his journey to further gain knowledge continues.

The second part of the book occurs primarily in a town located next to the river, which represent the flow of life and knowledge. It was the “long river in the wood, the same river across which a ferryman had taken him,” writes Hesse. The river teaches Siddhartha about Om, and where Siddhartha failed in his previous expeditions to obtain Nirvana, he is now set on the correct path. Through the mentorship of the ferryman who guides Siddhartha, as well as the river which shows Siddhartha aspects of life previously unknown to him, Siddhartha becomes acknowledgeable of true feeling and emotion and is now able to become Enlightened.

The settings present in this novel also present Hesse’s purpose in portraying a mythic quality of the book. According to sparknotes.com, the book is set in India in the 5th to 6th century before the Christian era and includes the setting from the actual life of the Buddha and the actual features of India. However, this is not an accurate record of events as it is a highly stylized representation of the author’s own spiritual state and aspirations, as many books are. Thus, Hesse’s purpose in using this variety of settings as well as the actual settings themselves is easily evident through his desire to fortify the effect of the novel.

The setting of Siddhartha is an aspect that simply cannot be ignored, as it plays a much larger factor than first conceived. It is the setting that sets the basic elements of Siddhartha’s journey to become Enlightened, and without the various stages and different scenes, Siddhartha would not have been able to become the great Buddha himself.

Cite this essay

The importance of setting in Herman Hesse’s Siddhartha. (2016, Jul 09). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/the-importance-of-setting-in-herman-hesses-siddhartha-essay

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