Internal Conflict in Hermann Hesse’s Siddhartha

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The novel Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse is a timeless story about one man’s journey of finding peace in his way of life and thoughts. Siddharta is a young Brahmin’s son, who is dissatisfied with his worship and in turn sets out to find the lifestyle that is right for him. Siddhartha is faced with many external, physical conflicts, yet that is not the most prominent type of conflict in the story. Hesse builds excitement and suspense through Siddhartha’s internal journey to create an emotional response usually associated with external conflict.

The start to Siddhartha’s suspenseful journey was when he was a fairly young boy.That was when he had one of his most important awakenings, realizing that his religion wasn’t enough to truly feed his spirit and mind, and give him the peace he was desiring. “And among the wise men that he knew and whose teachings he enjoyed, there was not one who had entirely reached it-- the heavenly world--not one who had completely quenched his eternal thirst” (8). He began to feel that no amount of religious knowledge, sacrifices, or prayers could be as important as being in complete peace with one’s mind and heart. The importance of this psychological aspect of Siddhartha’s journey can be shown with, “These were Siddhartha’s thoughts; this was his thirst, his sorrow” (8). This quote expresses just how important it was for Hesse to let the reader into Siddhartha’s mind, because there is much to be learned about him through his thoughts. This was also the first major step in Siddhartha’s journey, so the internal conflict begins to build excitement as the reader anticipates what will happen next on his quest for enlightenment.

Siddhartha’s entering into the “material world” is another aspect of the n...

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...ment and suspense. However, regarding Siddhartha, this is far from true. Hesse includes many major psychological events, such as Siddhartha’s first awakening and his achievement of enlightenment, that create feelings usually associated with external events. Reading this novel is like being taken on an emotional journey through Siddhartha’s mind, throughout the span of his life. It is filled with trials and tribulations, that all build up suspense for the resolution. The strong emotions of excitement and suspense would not have been expressed if it wasn’t for Hesse’s ability to relay Siddhartha’s psychological feelings and thoughts to the reader. Hesse mainly used mental and psychological events, alongside some external details to create a novel with a strong impact on anyone who reads it.

Works Cited

Hesse, Hermann, Siddhartha, New Delhi: Rupa Publications, 2003
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