Disclaimer: This is an example of a student written essay.
Click here for sample essays written by our professional writers.

Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of UKEssays.com.

Siddhartha: Book Analysis

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Literature
Wordcount: 1000 words Published: 17th May 2017

Reference this

One utilizes a potter’s wheel to mold and shape a piece of clay. As the wheel continues to spin, the clay transforms into a beautiful shape of art. This tool, however exists as more than just a mechanism for sculpting clay. The potter’s wheel stands as a profound metaphor for the circle of life. Herman Hesse’s prolific novel, Siddhartha, illustrates this metaphor through the examination of its protagonist’s life. In Siddhartha’s spiritual journey, his potter’s wheel initially spins, then slows down almost to the point of a standstill, and, with the help of that delay, sets into motion again. Just as the wheel physically sculpts clay into beautiful art, it metaphorically sculpts Siddhartha’s life into enlightenment.

Get Help With Your Essay

If you need assistance with writing your essay, our professional essay writing service is here to help!

Essay Writing Service

Siddhartha’s potter’s wheel spins from the very beginning of the story. Even his name exemplifies this metaphor, for it translates into “the journey of life.” (Lachotta) As the son of a Brahmin, Siddhartha feels unsatisfied with his “transitory” existence. (Hesse) He constantly thirsts for spiritual knowledge. In an effort to obtain this knowledge, he pumps the pedal of his potter’s wheel, and leaves his family behind to live a life of asceticism. On his spiritual journey, he encounters the samanas and Gotama, but cannot accept their teachings. He believes that true peace cannot be taught; he must experience it for himself. He expresses this belief in his conversation with the exalted Buddha, stating that “for myself alone must I judge, must I choose, must I decline.” (Hesse) In essence, he believes that he exists as the only potter in control of his wheel. He realizes that only he can cultivate his clay of life. As his journey continues into the city, his eyes become transfixed on an entirely different existence – Kamala’s love. Although he previously denies all teachers, he allows Kamala and Kamaswami to teach him the arts of love and trade. This sets the new motion within his potter’s wheel, and ultimately, the new motion within his circle of life.

As Siddhartha adapts to this new life of prosperity, he remains the samana within his heart. He continues to practice his own arts of “thinking, fasting, and waiting,” and feels “indifferent to business affairs.” (Hesse) However, as he plunges further into the world of “the child people,” his wheel begins to slow. The game of samsara begins to occupy his thoughts “as much as the gods and Brahmin once [occupy] them.” As Siddhartha makes love to Kamala, he slowly becomes seized by the “spiritual malaise of the rich.” (Hesse) The potter’s wheel within in his soul encompasses “the wheel of asceticism, the wheel of thinking, [and] the wheel of determination.” These wheels continue to whirl. However, they now spin “slowly and hesitantly, and nearly [come] to a standstill.” A slower speed in a potter’s wheel prompts errors in the clay’s structure. Similarly, this speed endangers Siddhartha’s self. Once the wheel reaches a standstill, it contains the potential to permanently engulf its creation. Siddhartha notices this gradual transformation within his self, but becomes paralyzed to act against it. He lives as the hollow men do in the “twilight kingdom.” (Eliot) No longer a man of spirituality, he becomes a prisoner to gambling, wine, and dancing girls; he exists as the bird in the golden cage. In a symbolic dream, Siddhartha sees that the bird in the golden cage lies dead. This prompts him to head to the river, where his wheel sets into another motion.

Upon his arrival to the river, Siddhartha stands hesitantly by the shore. The bird in his heart feels dead, and thus, his potter’s wheel feels at a standstill. He spits at his reflection, and then plunges into the water, where he sinks “down toward death.” Then he hears a word “from the remote precincts of his soul.” The holy “OM” of “perfect completion” penetrates his being, and sets his wheel in motion again. Siddhartha feels reborn. He realizes that with his unity of suffering and prosperity, he achieves true understanding of the world; he achieves nirvana. Although the slowing of the wheel exists as potentially detrimental to the clay, it also exists as necessary for a beautiful masterpiece. Paralleling the unity of both worlds, a potter must spin the wheel both fast to make the clay taller, and slow to center it. (Devries) Thus, Siddhartha molds his clay into enlightenment. Also, just as Siddhartha went through many smaller cycles to achieve his goals, the potter’s wheel spins in smaller cycles as it cultivates the clay. Siddhartha realizes these many cycles of life when he tells Govinda that “the wheel of forms turns quickly.” Furthermore, the river guides Siddhartha through his entire journey, just as the potter must continuously wet the clay as he guides its final shape. Water, therefore, exists as the sustenance for the potter’s wheel, in both physical and metaphorical terms. Siddhartha’s wheel sets into motion again, and ultimately, he completes his circle of life.

Find Out How UKEssays.com Can Help You!

Our academic experts are ready and waiting to assist with any writing project you may have. From simple essay plans, through to full dissertations, you can guarantee we have a service perfectly matched to your needs.

View our services

Overall, Siddhartha’s spiritual journey parallels that of a potter’s wheel. Hesse creates this metaphor as the circle of life, and intricately weaves it throughout his entire novel. Siddhartha’s wheel initially spins, slows down almost to a standstill, and, with the help of that delay, sets into motion again. A potter must meet both motions in order to obtain a deeper and more beautiful creation. Otherwise, the creation exists as nothing more than a shadow, just as Siddhartha before he obtains his unity. In the end, Siddhartha’s circle of life results in an enlightened self. With his potter’s wheel, he creates something beautiful.


Cite This Work

To export a reference to this article please select a referencing stye below:

Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.

Related Services

View all

DMCA / Removal Request

If you are the original writer of this essay and no longer wish to have your work published on UKEssays.com then please: