Siddhartha: Themes & Analysis

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  • 0:00 ''Siddhartha'': Themes
  • 0:27 Unity of Nature
  • 1:42 Avoidance of Routine
  • 2:54 Truth
  • 4:11 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Summer Stewart

Summer has taught creative writing and sciences at the college level. She holds an MFA in Creative writing and a B.A.S. in English and Nutrition

Hermann Hesse's 'Siddhartha' is a spiritual novel that tracks Siddhartha's life as he seeks enlightenment. In this video, we'll look at unity with nature, avoidance of routine and truth as major literary themes.

Siddhartha: Themes

Siddhartha, by Hermann Hesse, follows a man as he seeks the meaning of life and reaches enlightenment. As his journey progresses, we find certain themes such as unity with nature, avoidance of routine, and truth. In this video, we'll discuss those themes to gain a deeper understanding of Siddhartha. Let's begin with the unity of nature.

Unity with Nature

Unity of nature is a prominent theme in the novel and a major factor in Siddhartha's quest for enlightenment, serving to guide him on his spiritual path. Throughout every stage of his life, nature supports Siddhartha by providing him with physical and spiritual energy. For example, his relationship with the river teaches him that all things are one, and the natural world connects all its features and inhabitants together.

In Siddhartha, the narrator says that, 'the river is everywhere at the same time'. This implies that the natural world is completely unified, even with the spiritual world. The notion that all things touch is incredibly important in Siddhartha's path to enlightenment. The river teaches him about eternity and about being one with the universe.

The theme of unity in nature is further supported when the narrator says, '. . .to them was not just water, but the voice of life, the voice of Being, the voice of perpetual Becoming. . .' The water is both an external force of nature and an internal source of nourishment for the spirit. Nature unifies life and death, so Siddhartha can fully understand that life is eternal with all factors of life unified by nature.

Avoidance of Routine

Following the regular cycles of life is discouraged in Siddhartha. Choosing a life based on avoidance of routine is preferred in order to reach enlightenment. Abandoning cyclical routines allows Siddhartha to gain a true understanding of the world because he is forced to live a life closer to nature, thus getting closer to enlightenment since he isn't concerned with the everyday habits of society.

For example, the narrator says, 'Then for an hour he was aware that he was leading a strange life, that he was doing all sorts of things that were merely a game, that he was cheerful, granted, and sometimes felt joy, but that a real life was flowing past him and not touching him.'

Siddhartha is reflecting on his path and the strangeness he feels for not leading a life with a single direction. Here, Siddhartha's life is like a river, bouncing off banks and trickling into the cracks of the earth, but never sticking to one course. His wandering lifestyle, void of routine, allows him to remain grounded and ultimately become one with the world as he realizes that cycles impede his ability to become enlightened.

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