Siddhartha Commentary: Bildungsroman

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“Siddhartha” by Herman Hesse is neatly categorized under the Bildungsroman genre. Bildungsroman is a novel dealing with one person’s formative years or spiritual education. Throughout the whole novel Siddhartha, the main character, is confronted by many setbacks not only physically and emotionally but also spiritually. Siddhartha’s father was a Brahman and thus Siddhartha learnt the traditions through his own father. However, Siddhartha felt that he was missing something and this started his journey to enlightenment.

Herman Hesse splits Siddhartha’s journey into three major locations. The confrontations that Siddhartha faces in the different location all relate to each other by three different aspects that affected Siddhartha. Mental situations, situations that involved human desire and spiritual situations are the three aspects that affected Siddhartha.

Firstly, when Siddhartha encountered situation that involved his mentality, human teachers taught Siddhartha. Siddhartha was first taught by his father, the Head Brahman, through scriptures of ways to lead a blessed life. However, Siddhartha had already mastered the ways of the Brahman. He also felt that his soul could not be taught by scriptures because if he continued learning though scriptures he would just go on a “detour, (he) was getting lost”.

Soon after, Siddhartha left the Brahman ways with Govinda to learn from the Samanas. Once again, Siddhartha’s teachers were humans. The duo was taught to deprive themselves of all sorts of pleasure and to be an “empty human”. After slowly mastering the ways of the Samanas, Siddhartha soon became bitter to his surroundings. He saw his world as one full of negative things. Siddhartha’s “glance turned to ice when he encountered women”, “merchants trading, princes hunting, mourners wailing for their dead, whores offering themselves, physicians trying to help the sick, priests determining the most suitable day for seeding, lovers loving, (and) mothers nursing...
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