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Free Study Guide-Siddhartha by Herman Hesse-Free Book Notes Summary
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The first chapter of Siddhartha is set in a Brahmin household located in the serene and peaceful atmosphere of an Indian village. In the second chapter, the scene shifts to the forest where the Samanas lead an austere life of self-denial. The third chapter takes the reader to the Jetavana grove in Savathi town, where the Buddha delivers a sermon. In the fourth chapter, Siddhartha is on his way from the forest to the town.

After Siddhartha crosses the river, the second part of the novel is set in an unspecified town where Kamala the courtesan lives. Up until Siddhartha's departure from the town, this part of the novel takes place amid the world of the senses and material things as seen in Kamaswami's house and in Kamala's grove and her lovely pleasure garden. The river becomes the setting for the remaining five chapters of the novel.


Major Characters


The son of a Brahmin. He is a "strong, handsome, supple - limbed youth," endowed with "ardent thoughts," "strong will" and a "high vocation." He is the protagonist of the novel.


Siddhartha's "friend and companion, his servant, his lance bearer, his shadow."

The Buddha

"The Illustrious One," who, having realized Nirvana, teaches the eightfold path.


The illiterate ferryman who has discovered his inner self by communing with the river.


A beautiful courtesan with a "bright face" and "clever arched eyes." She initiates Siddhartha into the mysteries of love.


A rich and clever merchant. He initiates Siddhartha into the tricky world of business and material pleasures of the world.

Minor Characters

Siddhartha's Son

A spoiled child who has been brought up in an atmosphere of luxury and comforts. Siddhartha learns how to love through him.

The Samanas

Members of a religious sect known for leading indigent lives of austerity and self-denial.

The Buddha's disciples

People who have vowed to follow "the Eightfold path" preached by "the Illustrious One."

Vasudeva's wife

The lady who was cremated after her death on the same hill on which the dead Kamala is cremated.


Inhabitants of a village which Siddhartha passes through during his journey from the Jetavana Grove to the town. They are described as dancing, playing, shouting and wrestling.

A young woman

The one who entices Siddhartha by making sexual overtures.

The Buddhist Monks

Followers on their way to see the dying Buddha.

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