Siddhartha begins his journey leaving his father, a religious leader, who has taught him the Brahmin way of life and expects his son to walk in his footsteps, "he envisioned him growing up to be a great wise man and priest, a prince among Brahmins" (Hesse 4). Siddhartha, however, wants more of a challenge in life. He and his best friend Govinda, which admires him very much and is like a "shadow" to him, set out to join an ascetic group called samanas. The samanas teach the two young men endurance and "to let the ego perish" (Hesse 13), among many other valuable life skills. Siddhartha, still unfulfilled, takes leave of the samanas with his friend. They go to hear the wisdom of a well known and respected teacher, Gotama. After hearing the Buddha speak, the two see that he is indeed enlightened, this inclines Govinda to join him and his followers. Siddhartha, however, feels that he needs more than another's account of how enlightenment is obtained, still unfulfilled, he surprises and disappoints his friend when he chooses not to opt for the same path as him. He leaves his friend to continue his pursuit.
Subsequently, Siddhartha passes paths with a beautiful prosperous courtesan who quickly takes a liking to him and helps him obtain an apprenticeship with a wealthy merchant, eventually...
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...ut change, growing and becoming ?somebody?, and everyone goes through this. Hesse went through many changes throughout his own life, he too, seemed to have issues finding himself, he went through three marriages, attended various institutions (including a mental one), and changed careers often. He, as did Siddhartha in his book, attempted suicide. So, basically his own life?as with many authors?influenced his novel. But there are sure to be others that see a bit, or a lot, of this protagonist in them.
Hesse, Herman. Siddhartha. Trans. Susan Bernofsky. New York: Modern, 2006.
Ziolkowski, Theodore. The Novels of Herman Hesse: A Study in Theme and Structure. New Jersey: Princeton, 1965.
Wikipedia contributors. ?Herman Hesse?. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. 26 March 2008. http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Hermann_Hesse&oddid=202834940.
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