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The work was written in 1922 in Germany just after the First World War, which brought a lot of trouble to the Germans. After this war, they felt unfairly humiliated and decided to take revenge, which happened a few years later. Hate turned out to be cruel, and in the meantime, a writer like Hesse preached in his book the love of everything. After all, everything that surrounds people is all of them, and this is a series of reincarnations called Samsara. However, the Germans preferred to indulge in human passions and sorrows than to delve into an alien religion – Buddhism. The work is not religious literature, no, but it contains many references relevant to this topic.
Characters and Theme
The main character of the given adventure and self-discovery story is Siddhartha. This is a young man who decided to go in search of his “I” because he wished to know the essence of the world and acquire wisdom. The story clearly outlines that he is highly patient, smart, and he is used to severe hardship. For instance, the main character says: “The sinner, which I am and which you are, is a sinner, but in times to come he will be Brahma again, he will reach the Nirvana, will be Buddha—and now see: these “times to come” are a deception, are only a parable!” (Hesse 149). It is critical to note that indeed – he devotes his thoughts to his whole life, which cannot be said about the people around him. Hesse endowed the protagonist with his worldview, which even Buddha cannot influence. In the seemingly constant desire to achieve the ideal of Hesse, overheating is laid, as a result of which the main character instead of spiritual searches indulges in a worldly fuss. Thus, it is essential to note the fact that the given self-discovery journey is the manifestation of Siddhartha’s philosophical development.
The work tells how Siddhartha goes through a series of reincarnations. To do this, he does not even need to die in the natural (biological) sense of the word. The main character tries different roles and tries to find himself among them. He understands that he is different from other people. He is sometimes sorry that he cannot live with passions like other people. However, he tirelessly seeks his path, the truth, to which he must necessarily go on his own. That is why he does not accept single teaching on faith. He meets different people on his way, gets confused, almost decides to commit suicide, but in the end comes to new thoughts, conclusions. He begins to learn from the river – that infinite power that seethes in its depths.
He smuggles many people from one coast to another, plunges into many lives through their stories. In fact, this is a solid description – how a person learns from the river, begins to relate differently to people’s stories. It takes a very long time to think about it. Moreover, the result of these searches is the enlightenment of the hero, he himself becomes a Buddha who has cognized the world and, most importantly, himself. He looks back – and sees all his rebirths, all his guises (Kumar 14). The line between the past, the future is erased, and in fact, there is nothing but a sense of unity.
An analysis of this work by Hesse reveals the figurative and value components of the concepts of spirit and soul in a complex picture of the writer’s world. The idea of vision is attributed to specifically expressed value characteristics. The essence contains the cognitive activity of man, and it is his intellect. Hesse saw the difficult paths of the formation of human mental activity, showed puzzling constructions of a contradictory organized human soul.
Hesse in the novel calls to love life in all its manifestations, to live without seeking the meaning of life. In general, an analysis of the works of Hesse allows concluding that the author turns to Indian spirituality due to a crisis of spirituality in Western society. The Western world has become less interested in the ideas of “Truth,” “Good,” and “Beauty” (Sinha 72). For example, the main character says: “I wish that you would go this path up to its end, that you shall find salvation” (Hesse 34). Castalia has ceased to be a full part of the big world. Hesse gave this phenomenon the name “feuilleton era,” the main features of which are adherence to deep individualism and philistinism, the loss of thought of its purity and acuity, the dominance of mass culture and consumer society. However, on the other hand, in the formed conditions of cultural disorder, an irresistible thirst is born to think again, to establish order, to speak the same language again, to return to good morals, to unshakable foundations that cannot be subordinated to anyone and are not prone to frivolous change.
Therefore, Hesse postulates the primacy of the value of spiritual life. At the same time, he believes that the intellectual elite should not be locked in its imaginary world, it should change this world in terms of morality, morality, and culture (Study Guide 31). Indian spirituality is attractive with a wise and sensitive attitude of mentors to the moral education of their students, a desire to discover and develop their abilities and spiritual aspirations, to carefully help with doubts in various matters of life. Spiritual knowledge must go along with the practice of life, with experience, only he improves the person.
In conclusion, it is plausible to assume that by solving the problem of Hesse how to combine the existence of art with the presence of inhuman civilization, how to protect the great world of art from the destructive influence of mass culture, it concludes that the desire to create art outside of society turns art into a pointless, aimless game. An important feature in the action of the game principle is the social ideals of the community, revealing the spiritual life of people. At specific moments in history, the game plays the role of a dramatic basis in the realization of a higher social plot, social and moral idea. Social ideals undoubtedly include a lot of play, since they are combined with the realm of fantasy, dream, utopian representations and can only be shown in the play space of culture. In accordance with the concept, entire eras “play” the embodiment of the ideal, for example, the Renaissance culture, which tended to revive the ideals of antiquity, and not to create fundamentally new, its own landmarks.
Hesse, Hermann. Siddhartha. New Directions, 1952.
Kumar, Raman. “Dialectic of Being and Becoming in Hermann Hesse’s Siddhartha.” The Achievers Journal, vol. 2, no. 4, 2016, pp. 1–19.
Sinha, Rohit. “Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse.” NHRD Network Journal, vol. 9, no. 3, 2016, pp. 71–73.
Study Guide for Hermann Hesse’s “Steppenwolf”. Gale, Cengage Learning, 2016.