Siddhartha

Enlightenment on the River 10th Grade

Hundreds of Buddhist monks try to attain Nirvana daily. They all follow the teachings of Gotama Buddha, but most fail to reach their goal and end up being reborn as new creatures. In Hermann Hesse’s book, Siddhartha, a young boy, Siddhartha, rejects the teachings of Gotama Buddha and follows his own path to enlightenment. His location of enlightenment, in a departure from the Buddha’s tree, is a river. In the book, Hesse uses the river as a key catalyst to lead Siddhartha to Nirvana. The river acts as an archetype for timelessness, as a transition between phases of life, and as a teacher.

The archetype of timelessness is one of the most obvious motifs that surrounds the river. The river shows timelessness for the first time when Siddhartha notices how it only has an illusion of movement. He sees “that the water continually flowed and flowed and yet it was always there; it was always the same and yet every moment it was new” (Hesse 83). He realizes that both the river and time move in a questionable fashion. Just as the river seems to be continuously moving but remains in one place, time also seems to be moving but remains in one place. The river shows its archetype of timelessness when Siddhartha is listening to its voices....

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