The Theme of Identity in Hermann Hesse’s Siddhartha and Franz Kafka’s Metamorphosis

The Theme of Identity in Hermann Hesse’s Siddhartha and Franz Kafka’s Metamorphosis

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In this paper, I choose to speak about the theme of Identity or The Self occurring in Hermann Hesse’s Siddhartha and Franz Kafka’s Metamorphosis. Hermann Hesse was a german poet, novelist and painter. He was born in 1877 at Cawl, Germany. In most of his works he explores an individual’s search for authenticity, self-knowledge and spirituality. Franz Kafka was a German-language writer of novels and short stories. He was born in 1883 at Prague, Czech Republic. Kafka strongly influenced genres such as existentialism.

When we talk about The Self, the question of Identity automatically comes up. In my opinion, The Self is something that can only be felt, something that is not physical; it is an essence that can only be felt. The book Siddhartha deals with the search of this Self.

“And where was Atman to be found, where did He dwell, where did His eternal heart beat, if not within the Self, in the innermost, in the eternal which each person carried within him? But where was this Self, this innermost?”

In the beginning of the novel, in the first chapter itself the author describes that how Siddhartha realizes that “the love of his father and mother, and also the love of his friend Govinda, would not always make him happy, give him peace, satisfy and suffice him”. Hence, Siddhartha had known that the Self was more demanding. He wanted to find his real Being, which he believed he would, by finding the Self. So we can say that he equates his identity with the Self.

In Kafka’s Metamorphosis, the book begins by the author describing, “One morning, as Gregor Samsa was waking up from anxious dreams, he discovered that in bed he had been changed into a monstrous verminous bug”. It is the body, the form that has transformed and no...


... middle of paper ...


...I should not feel bound by anyone or anything and do what my inner voice tells me to or else it would be too late for me to be who I want to be, like Gregor, who failed to realize that he had his own identity and was free to leave and live his own life. But the question still stands, can one ever assert his own true self in a society? Well, humanity might just accept individual identities but, societal institutions? I think not. We will always face this inner conflict of asserting our own identity or being identified by the society.



Works Cited

Hesse, Hermann, Siddhartha, New Delhi: Rupa Publications, 2003 Franz Kafka, Metamorphosis, Project Gutenberg, http://www.gutenberg.org/files/5200/5200-h/5200-h.htm, Accessed 23 March 2016.

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