Opposing Perspectives in Hesse’s Siddhartha and Camus’ The Stranger

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Hermann Hesse and Albert Camus were both talented authors whose works have greatly influenced the world of literature. Hesse’s Siddhartha and Camus’ The Stranger have impacted readers for decades. These novels centralize around a common principle of finding inner truth. The main characters, Siddhartha and Meursault, have very different ideologies by which they live their lives. These opposing perspectives greatly influence their individual decisions and the people around them. The style in which each of these novels is written exemplifies these differences between Siddhartha and Meursault. The impact of the opposing perspectives of Siddhartha and Meursault on their individual decisions and on the people around them is seen through the styles of Siddhartha and The Stranger.

Siddhartha’s entire life is structured around his goal of reaching enlightenment and attaining Nirvana. This is all that he wants and all that he lives for. Every decision he makes is centralized around achieving this goal, regardless of the consequences and who he has to leave behind. His main aspiration can be seen in this excerpt of Siddhartha. He will do whatever it will take to learn of this secret. This is shown when Siddhartha lives as a shramana. He endures intense pain, dehydration, and exhaustion, but this suffering does not faze him because he is so focused on eliminating his I. He believes that the living the life of a shramana will help him “become empty of thirst, empty of desire, empty of dreams, empty of joy and pain” (Hesse 13). However, when he realizes that he is not getting closer to his initial goal through the shramana lifestyle, he decides to abandon this and set off on his own.

Siddhartha’s optimistic perspective greatly aids him ...

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...d be portrayed more clearly.

Siddhartha and The Stranger have been popular books over the years because of the profound message each introduces and the styles in which they are written. Siddhartha and Meursault illustrate how differences in characterization can influence individual decisions and the lives of loved ones. Their opposing beliefs and perspectives in life demonstrate the undeniable power of personal opinion.

Works Used:

Bloom, Harold. Albert Camus: Bloom's Modern Critical Views. N.p.: Chelsea House, 2003. 22. Print.

Camus, Albert. The Stranger. Trans. Matthew Ward. 1942. N.p.: Vintage International, 1989. Print.

Hesse, Hermann. Siddhartha. Ed. George Stade. Trans. Rika Lesser. 1922. N.p.: Fine Creative Media, 2007. Print.

Mileck, Joseph. Herman Hesse: Biography and Bibliography, Volume 1. N.p.: University of California Press, 1977. Print.

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