Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 12th grade November 2001

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Siddhartha - Siddhartha is the hero of the novel. The story follows him through three major phases of his life, roughly equaling twenty years each: the first represents the time of the mind, the second the time of the sense, and the third phase witnesses his ultimate enlightenment. Siddhartha was the name of the historical Buddha during his secular life, and translates roughly as "he who finds the goal." By giving his character Siddhartha the name of the Buddha, and by rendering Siddhartha's life into episodes that correspond to landmarks of the Buddha's own biography, Hesse portrays Siddhartha as a Buddha, as one who has found the way. When the novel begins, Siddhartha is a handsome young Brahmin distinguished in his town for his cleverness and superior bearing. As we follow his life's path, he transforms into a bearded, long-haired, loincloth-wearing ascetic, then into an opulently-dressed businessman well-versed in the ways of pleasure, and finally into a simple ferryman.

Thus, a series of various incarnations are united in a single character; similarly, each of the other characters in the novel represent different aspects of Siddhartha himself.

Govinda - Govinda is the eternal follower of Siddhartha, a perpetual seeker, who has an uncanny knack for not recognizing that which is right in front of him. He twice fails to recognize his own best friend Siddhartha: once during Siddhartha's incarnation as a businessman, and again when he has become a Buddha. He shares characteristics with other loyal friends or sidekicks in literature; like Horatio, Toto, or Sancho Panza, he can always be counted on and yet repeatedly fails to comprehend the situations he encounters. A close childhood friend of Siddhartha's, his life's greatest goal is to follow Siddhartha everywhere and to learn greatness from him secondhand. In fact, Siddhartha himself thinks of...