Archetypes in Siddhartha

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In analyzing the novel Siddhartha, we find that Herman Hesse has incorporated many literary techniques to relay his message to the reader. By using various writing approaches to convey the theme of the novel, Hesse appeals to the readers' senses and aides them in grasping the novel. Included in these techniques are symbolism, metaphor, allusion, and archetypes. He compares many issues that Siddhartha faces to everyday objects and forces, making the novel easier to understand. Three of the main archetypes Hesse uses to get his point across are trees, rivers, and sleep.

One of the more obvious symbols used in the novel is a tree. Cross-culturally, it is extremely common for trees to represent wisdom. In Hebrew literature, when Adam and Eve eat the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge, they are "awakened" and gain the insight of good and evil. In Norse mythology, the tree of Yggdrasil represents knowledge and life. In American literature, John Knowles' "A Separate Peace" uses a giant oak tree to symbolize Finny and Gene becoming men. Finally, in Siddhartha we see that trees (and more broadly, gardens) are present when Siddhartha discovers something about himself. On just the third page of the novel with Siddhartha contemplating in a fig garden, it becomes obvious that trees are being used as a representative of learning. This concept is repeated many times throughout the novel, some instances of usage more significant than others. For example, on page 71 Siddhartha puts his arm around a cocoanut tree while reflecting on the mistakes he has recently made in his life. He lets go of the tree and considers suicide, but immediately sinks back underneath its trunk when he realizes how childish the thought of killing himself is. By showing the reader how drastically different Siddhartha's decisions and ideas are while he's away from a tree as opposed to underneath of one, we see just how strong its symbolism in the novel is. The use of this archetype shows the...
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