The importance of setting in Herman Hesse's Siddhartha

Topics: Gautama Buddha, Hermann Hesse, Novel Pages: 2 (749 words) Published: May 18, 2004
Setting is an important aspect of any novel or literature, as it can greatly affects the different factors that contribute to the overall story, such symbolism, tone, and imagery. In Siddhartha by Herman Hesse, the protagonist Siddhartha ventures on his search and quest for knowledge and encounters many new and different settings These setting hold not only importance individually, but as a group collectively, serving to provide insight about the author's purpose and effect he wishes to endow on the reader.

The first part of the novel presents various settings that symbolize Siddhartha's difficult path to gain Enlightenment. The first chapter of Siddhartha is set in a Brahmin household located in the serene and peaceful atmosphere of an Indian village. Hesse describes the setting in the very first line of the book, writing, "In the shade of the house, in the sunshine on the river bank by the boats, in the shade of the sallow wood and the fig tree..." This shows 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 peaceful atmosphere of the home also foreshadows the coming scenes as well, which oversees a great transition to a new environement that Siddhartha has never ventured into. As the Samanas arrive to the village, Siddhartha decides to leave, shifting the scene to the forest where the Samanas live austere and impecunious lives, practicing self-denial and mediation to further 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...
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