One of the greatest segments of philosophy is the understanding of the concept of existentialism that emphasizes that life is about freedom, making informed choices, and appreciating individual existence. The protagonist in Hermann Heasse novel, Siddhartha, leaves his home with a friend named Govinda, and meets a ferryman who later enables him to realize his dream. Siddhartha explores city life but eventually realizes he is in a fake relationship with Kamala that is only based on material and human pleasures but was devoid of spiritual fulfillment. The protagonist later meets with the ferryman, Vasudeva, who enables him to realize the essence of time and devoutness. In “Siddhartha” by Hermann Heasse, it is apparent that the desire for spiritual satisfaction, experience with the natural world, and inherent wisdom shown by his ability to make informed decision prove that Siddhartha is the best existential mate.
Throughout the novel, a key feature that differentiated the protagonist from the rest of the characters is his deep quest for spiritual enlightenment. Despite leaving a stable life in his home in Kapilvastu, he meets up with his friend Govinda and together, they desire to realize the dream of spiritual illumination that they believe will enable them to appreciate their existence. He says, “where the wise men or penitents, who had succeeded in not just knowing this deepest of all knowledge but also to live it? (Hesse 12)? Thus, it is his idea of questioning existence and the standard way of life that motivated him to choose to leave his state thus proves that the protagonist is the best existential mate in the novel.
The book by Hesse further explores the theme of existentialism through the main character from its consideration of the desire that Siddhartha had in the natural context of the world. Many of the decisions that he later makes in his pursuit of self-worth are related to the attachment that he had with the natural state of the world. For example, it is stated, “Silently, Siddhartha exposed himself to the burning rays of the sun directly above, glowing with pain, glowing with thirst, and stood there, until he neither felt any pain nor thirst any more” (Hesse 48). It is apparent, therefore, that while others would consider the sun as a blessing in the contemporary context, the main character was perceiving it as an opportunity to use it for punishing himself and thereby pen mind to understand what he desired.
The last feature that exemplifies the role that the protagonist plays in proving the worth of being an existential mate is through the consideration of the wise decisions that he made before and after undergoing his dream of self and spiritual fulfillment. He appreciates and respects Buddha’s wisdom and experience but differs with the idea of following his teachings as he believed that it is better to be in a position to make rational decisions that were devoid of manipulation. He deliberated, “the ablutions were good, but they were water, they did not wash off the sin, they did not heal the spirit’s thirst, they did not relieve the fear in his heart. The sacrifices and the invocation of the gods were excellent—but were that all?” (Hesse 13). The thought led him to take a different turn that that which his best friend took and which enabled him to undergo an experience that resulted in the realization of his dream.
However, while it is apparent that Siddhartha was able to make decisions that were based on the need to appreciate his natural existence and reconcile his feeling with the world, it is apparent that he was also subject to the principle of determinism. For example, he was not in a position to ensure that he only thought positively about life and even contemplated suicide. The author states, “Things are going downhill with you!” he said to himself, and laughed about it, and as he was saying it, he happened to glance at the river, and he also saw the river going downhill, always moving on downhill, and singing and being happy through it all” (Hesse 41). The experience meant that the protagonist was not entirely in control of what he felt because it is expected that as a favorite of existentialism he should have been in a position to avoid the negative thought of committing suicide.
In summary, it is worth emphasizing that through his wisdom, desire for spirituality, and ability to make informed decisions are what make the protagonist the best existential mate in the story. The author deploys him as a person whose ultimate goal was to exercise choice. However, the reflection that he once contemplated suicide significantly undermines the feature of existentialism, as the concept of determinism appeared to be more of an influence in this case. Despite this weakness, it is critical to highlight that Siddhartha’s pursuit of self-worth throughout his life is a proof that he best depicts the theme of existentialism in the novel.
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Hesse, Hermann. Siddhartha. Germany: New Directions, 1951. Print.