© J.Sobel & HHP 4/28/97
FORM, STYLE, AND CONTENT IN SIDDHARTHA
Joseph Mileck asserts in Hermann Hesse: Life and Art that Siddhartha is a perfect exemplification of what he calls, "conscious craftsmanship". For Mileck, Hesse consciously synchronized form and substance in Siddhartha to best illustrate a feeling of unity and the journey through the mind, body, and soul. In Siddhartha, Hesse consciously crafted a piece that is unified in form, style, and content, and created an atmosphere in which each one of these elements is perfectly complementary with the others.
In order to communicate most accurately the inner journey of Siddhartha through the three stages of experience, Hesse maintains appropriate rhythm and form throughout the novel. In terms of structure, Siddhartha is comprised of twelve chapters broken down into three groups of three chapters, in which each group is subsequently followed by an interlude. The interlude serves the function of dissipating and refocusing the energy which is built in the preceding three chapters. For example, the first three chapters describe Siddhartha's experiences in the land of the spirit, and ends with the interlude, "Awakening", in which Siddhartha is awakened with the idea that he is spiritually unattached and must seek a new path.
In the next three chapters, Siddhartha experiences the land of the senses and of corporal pleasure. This second group of three chapters is followed by the interlude, "By the River",which serves "to consolidate the experiences just past and prepare Siddhartha for those to come." The final three chapters are concerned with working towards a synthesis of the spiritual and the sensual, which is achieved in the final chapter, "Om". Siddhartha is completed with a final chapter which illustrates the totality of Siddhartha's accrued thinking and experiences.
Thus, it can be seen that Hesse kept the structure and form of the book Siddhartha very tight, maintaining a strong backbone and feeling of unity to Siddhartha's seemingly varied experiences. Hesse also uses the symbolism of the river to unify Siddhartha's experiences. The river serves as a separation between the experiences of the mind and the spirit on the one side, and the experiences of the body and the senses on the other. However, while the river serves as a seeming separation between these two "lands", and "experiences", the river also serves as the unifying principle in that the experiences of the soul are located at the river's edge, "between life's two extremes". It is the river, which before served as an apparent division, which ultimately teaches Siddhartha the most important lesson of all - the unreality of time and the illusion of division.
Hesse also consciously employs certain mechanisms of style to exemplify Siddhartha's inner states. Hesse throughout the novel uses a characteristic triple rhythm. "Each of the three stages of Siddhartha's life, reflective of the three realms of experience, comprises an endless series of three-beat actional patterns. "For example, sentences frequently consist of sequences of three words, three phrases, of three clauses, and sometimes of combinations of two or even all of these triads.
This can be seen in the very first sentence of the novel when Hesse writes, "In the shade of the house, in the sunshine on the river bank by the boats, in the shade of the sallow wood and the fig tree, Siddhartha, the handsome Brahmin's son, grew up with his friend Govinda." In addition, events and actions also take place in groups of threes. Three Samana's appear to Siddhartha, which sparks the idea to join them; Siddhartha first informs Govinda, then his father, and then his mother of his intent to join the Samanas; his father responds with unspoken opposition, poses three questions, and makes three statements, and then gives "reluctant opposition".
This triadic structure found throughout the novel imparts a systematic, methodical tone to Siddhartha, and together with the consciously created form unifies the experiences of Siddhartha, permitting a feeling of closure and meditation on the thoughts and ideas presented therein. There is certainly a unique rhythm to Siddhartha which is skillfully communicated both consciously and subconsciously. One can appreciate the conscious craftmanship" of the novel's structure and style, while at the same time allowing the rhythm, feelings, and experiences to sift into one's mind on a deeper, more subconscious level.
Mileck, Joseph. Hermann Hesse: Life and
Art. Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1978.
Farquharson, Robert. An Outline of the Works of Hermann Hesse. London: Forum House Publishing Company, 1973.
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Created on April 28, 1997 using MS-Office 97