The role of the river in siddhartha and the metamorphosis

Essay by MasrawyHigh School, 11th gradeA, June 2004

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One can find many similar recurring themes in the novels Siddhartha, by Herman Hesse, and Perfume, by Patrick Suskind. Both authors use an aspect of nature as a symbol, the river. Since the time of the ancient Chinese, Pharaohs, Romans and Greeks, people have believed that the flow of the river represents the flow in one's life. They use the river to symbolise peoples' existence. In both books, the river portrays spiritual aspects that tell the characters' life stories, whether they take place in the past, present, or future, to show the consistency of the river and of life.

In Siddhartha, Hesse uses the river to reflect the life cycle of organisms on earth. For example, Vasudeva explains to Siddhartha that the river has taught him that, "everything comes back" (Hesse, 40). Rivers resemble the human cycle of life because they flow, their water evaporates, and then these evaporated particles reappear as rain and continue the flow.

Similarly, people do not always exist, but instead their children can go on to produce more children and so on, continuing life's cycle. Furthermore, when Siddhartha meets Vasudeva again, Siddhartha comprehends the significance of the river and explains it to Vasudeva, saying, "[It] is everywhere at the same time, at the source, at the waterfall, at the current, in the ocean, everywhere, and that the present only exists for it, not the shadow of the past, nor the shadow of the future" (Hesse, 87). Not only does the human cycle of life share similarities with the river, but one's life portrays the characteristics of the river as well. One grows from childhood into maturity and into old age only to die or relive another life in the afterworld. Every part of that person's life, whether on...