Monthly Archives: August 2018

A Mortal Judgment of Internalized Homophobia

In “The Judgment,” Kafka reflects through his own writing the latent bearing of detrimental internalized homophobia. The veiled descriptions, and obscure narrative of the story, scatter merely dim whispers, which, in chorus, reveal the unspoken truth of repressed homoerotic feelings. Such slips of meaning are seeded within the incongruent emotions of shame and desire, insinuated by the main character for his childhood friend, that are only to be surfaced by the condemning outburst of his senile father.

Homophobia is soaked in shame, as is Georg Bendemann. Throughout the story, he never speaks his friend’s name. Although he is so important to him and occupies his thought with such tentative concern, his name remains a hidden secret. Kafka confirms this hypothesis of shame when the main character infers his friend as “Petersburg” (40). Further evidence of overt shame is admitted to his father when he confessed that he had twice received his friend in his private chamber, secretly (42). On top of which, his reluctance to announce his engagement is weaved with self-projected arguments of probable alienation, oppression, humiliation, and offense, that his friend is perceived to suffer (36). In internalized homophobia, feelings of shame are only one side of the coin, on the other side, sits desire.

His longing for his friend is eminent from the very beginning, as his gaze traces a romantic stroll across the river, moments after sealing a letter to him (35, 39). It is in this letter that he encloses his manipulative effort to smoothly coerce him to attend his wedding (39). It is noticeable that he yearns him; as his overdue visit back home, is repeatedly remarked in the text, with increasing awareness and discomfort to Georg, that his friend is making excuses for his prolonged absence (35, 36, 39, 42, 47). His vulnerable feelings are no longer concealed, as he daydreams and exclaims: “Why had he had to move so far away!” (44)

His forbidden feelings surface to consciousness when his father rampantly challenges him. He embarks by demanding steadily the truth, but soon he enters an uninhibited confrontation that abruptly breaks down all of Georg’s defenses (41, 44).

“He would have been a son after my own heart.”

“That’s why you lock yourself up in your office…”

“A father doesn’t need lessons to help him see through his son.”

During his father’s delirium, Georg realizes that he is morally defeated and exposed towards both his father and his friend, whom he is unlikely to see ever again. Shattered under the weight of shame and rejection, he surrenders to his father’s judgment.

The lurking theme of internalized homophobia is faintly evident to the reader, as it is to the main character. The strong sensations that comprise it, on the other hand, are fairly distinguishable. As shame and desire echoed each other in discrete rhythm, Georg was able to go about his Sunday morning undisturbed. Only when his father, standing on the top of his bed, as a sea captain on his ship, flooding his awareness, until the truth reached the surface, he was ultimately sunk to his own death.

 

Works Cited

Kafka, Franz. “Metamorphosis and other stories (M. Hofmann, Trans.).” London, NY: Penguin (2017).

Id: ‘The Groom’

Kafka, in his short story ‘A Country Doctor’, has employed Freud’s psychoanalytic model of personality to cast his main characters. While the Doctor as the protagonist, personifies the Ego, on the other hand, the personality of the Groom as the antagonist, perfectly represents the stereotypical characteristics of the Id. The Groom accurately exhibits all the traits of the unconscious Id; His existence remained unknown, his behavior is primitive, and he is driven by his sexual urges.

According to Freud, the Id is the unconscious part of the psyche. Similarly, the Groom, even though he was settled within the Doctor’s house, no one was aware of his presence until then. The maid appropriately comments on the situation: ‘You never know what you have in your own house’ (Kafka 186). The description of the Groom as a hunkered man, which crawled out of the long unused pigsty on hands and knees, further mirrors the concealed entity of his being, as he unhurriedly surfaces to awareness. The Doctor perceives him as a stranger, but the Groom confidently hails: ‘Ho, brother, ho, sister!’ (Kafka 186), to his Ego and Superego counterparts.

The impulsive behavior of the Groom is a stereotypical manifestation of the Id. His instinctual drive portrays him as an aggressive animal with no inhibitions. Without hindrance, he launches himself audaciously on the innocent Rosa; sinking his teeth into her flesh as he claimed her for his pleasure. His aggressive defiance echoes with cruel agony as the Doctor proclaims: ‘I can still hear my front door cracking and splintering under the assault of the groom’ (Kafka 186). As the Id continuous to be static throughout the life course, without ever outgrowing its infantile state, equally, the character of the Groom remains brutally vulgar in his quest for immediate pleasure.

Sexual impulse is the cornerstone trait of the psychoanalytic theory of the unconscious.   The character of the Groom operates with a definite mission to advance himself on the Maid, without any further considerations. His libido is the driving force that sets his plan in full thrust. Taking the lead in the scene, his authoritarian behavior firmly sets in motion the consummation of his sexual fantasy. His strategy reaches swift triumph as he declares: ‘I am not even going with you, I’m staying with Rosa’ (Kafka 186). Every action of the Groom served the immediate intention to gratify his sexual desire.

Kafka was an avid consumer of Freud’s writings. His dream-like short story shares many elements from Freud’s book: The Interpretation of Dreams; within which he explores the unconscious workings of the psyche. Kafka, through the character of the Groom, achieved to perfectly represent this concept. Freud, only a few years after his book was published, wrote to a friend: ‘…not a leaf has stirred to reveal that The Interpretation of Dreams has had any impact on anyone’; obviously ignorant of the inner workings it had stirred in the psyche of young Kafka!

Works Cited

Freud, Sigmund. The ego and the id. Courier Dover Publications, 2018.

Freud, Sigmund. The interpretation of dreams. Read Books Ltd, 2013.

Kafka, Franz. “Metamorphosis and other stories (M. Hofmann, Trans.).” London, NY: Penguin (2017).

All-Encompassing Love

In “Death in Venice” by Thomas Mann, Aschenbach’s love for Tadzio symbolizes his personal need for fulfillment, by conveying his own narcissism, his unresolved childhood, his artistic aspirations, and his moral conflicts, through the adoration of Tadzio’s entity. The writer chose this juvenile boy as the love object of his famous and accomplished protagonist, to encompass and express all the complementing qualities and internal resolutions that were central to his existence at that point in his life.

Beyond mere sexual desire, Tadzio becomes the figure of platonic love that ascends Aschenbach’s craving of his personal ideal to dangerous heights, until it ultimately descends him to his own death. By presenting Tadzio as the equivalent Narcissus of his reverse reflection; contrasting his prudent childhood to Tadzio’s carefree spirit; acknowledging his artistic aspirations for the ultimate inspiration; outlining the moral restrains that predominate his character; Mann weaves the threads that make up the fabric of Aschenbach’s fatal love affliction with a pubescent boy in Venice.

While writing his revered novella, Thomas Mann kept working notes that provide valuable clues of hidden meaning that infer the formation of his story. Supplemented with his private correspondence and essay extracts, following the publication of “Death in Venice”, these chronicles add to the understanding of the work and bring about new meaning by resorting reliably on Mann’s own comments.

It is credible to perceive Aschenbach, to a great extent, as a self-portrait of Thomas Mann, and therefore read the narrator and the protagonist as the same person. There are many reasons that provide evidence in support of this argument. Mann had himself travelled to Venice a year before he wrote the book and stayed at the same hotel at Lido. His wife, Katia, which was with him during this vacation, recalls that indeed Mann was fixated on a particular boy from a Polish family during their stay at Hotel des Bains. Mann even went as far as to investigate with accuracy the origin of Tadzio’s name by corresponding a Polish acquaintance to gather reliable information (Koelb 70), something that his protagonist also did. His portrayal of Aschenbach as a successful writer illustrate Mann and his work, to the point that he credits Aschenbach for receiving outmost success by citing Mann’s unpublished works. Finally his inspiration to copy the theme of Goethe’s work, further supports this claim since it was also autobiographical in nature. Through this angle, it is fitting and essential to assume that the author uses the narrator and the protagonist, to retell his story and express his narcissistic disposition unrestrained from the modesty and discretion that is expected when one writes explicitly about oneself.

The theme of Narcissus is prominent throughout the novel and is reflected from the author, to the protagonist, to his love object – Tadzio. In this game of idolized reflections, Aschenbach’s love for Tadzio is a symbol of his own narcissism. Upon setting eyes on Tadzio, Aschenbach noted his youth and beauty. To him Tadzio appeared as a noble god with a statuesque perfection of form, surpassing in beauty even art and nature. His descriptions of him are nothing less than the description of a work of art; comparing him to the Greco-Roman statue “Boy Pulling a Thorn From His Foot”- known for its graceful pose (Koelb 22); and describing him as if painting his portrait when he depicts him from a profile view, sitting on his chair, resting his head gently on his clenched hand. Indicating strongly that this theme is central to the overall conception, the very first note that Thomas Mann kept on his notebook was about Tadzio as Narcissus: “Tadzio’s smile is like that of the Narcissus who sees his own reflection – he sees it on the face of the other.”(Koelb 70). Similarly, the author reflected his own image onto his protagonist, who admires his intellect and artistry. Aschenbach openly venerates himself and boasts with intense narcissism, by highlighting his intellectual profile with confidence, and credits his bloodline as the cause of him being a “special artist” (Mann 7). When describing his intellectual force, Mann associates him with Louis XIV, and reflects his own image by bestowing on Aschenbach the same royal honorary title that he was granted. Tadzio is young and beautiful and carefree. He is everything that Aschenbach – in all his ravishing glory of intellectual accomplishment – is not. Yet he admires him as much as he admires himself, because he complements him perfectly, as a reverse reflection of himself.

This reverse and complementing reflection of Tadzio also challenges Achenbach’s unresolved childhood, which stands as another symbol of his love for him. Tadzio, at the age Aschenbach met him, had strikingly different childhood than he did. Achenbach was successful from a very young age. Mostly isolated, as he was an ill child, homeschooled, and had no friends – he was never a child himself. “Since his entire being was bent on fame, he emerged early on as, surprisingly mature, and ready to go before the public. He was practically still in high school when he made a name for himself.” (7). As a dignified and conscientious young man, he did not have a carefree youth similar to Tadzio’s. Although he was an assiduous over-achiever from very young, that was not his true nature, “possessing anything but a naturally robust constitution, he was not so much born for constant exertion as he was called to it.” (8). Observing Tadzio, surrounded by his peers, enjoying a carefree vacation, he was able to rest his eyes, and his soul, on that boy. This effect of soothing resolution is apparent when, although he yearns to see him again, he realizes that the boy had missed breakfast, because apparently he overslept; Aschenbach is taken over by a warm feeling of content, approving of Tadzio’s permitted slumber. “Well, little Phaeacian, he thought. It seems you, and not they, have the privilege of sleeping your heart’s content.” (24). Quite in contrast to his own strict morning regime, he smiles and enjoys the boy’s defiant absence, as if he himself had skipped a morning chore. As a result, by admiring and falling in love with this alternative childhood of Tadzio, his own unresolved childhood was being nourished and fulfilled.

Above all, Aschenbach was a devoted artist. The love that Tadzio stirred in him was also a symbol of his craving for artistic insight. Before deciding to visit Venice, Achenbach was troubled by a stale sensation that impeded his creativity. “Was his enslaved sensitivity now avenging itself by leaving him, refusing to advance his project and give wings to his art, taking with it all his joy, all his delight in form and expression?” (6). He suffered from a writer’s block and sought ways to escape his tormenting dreary and familiar life. He felt his work lacked fire, playfulness, and joy. The sight of the Traveller, and his intense stare was sufficient to ignite his first upheaval: “It was the urge to escape that was behind this yearning for the far away and the new, this desire for release, freedom, and forgetfulness. It was the urge to get away from his work, from the daily scene of an inflexible, cold, and passionate service.” (6). Aschenbach was in desperate need of inspiration, as his highest artistic goals had not yet been materialized. “Now that his life was slowly waning, now that his artist’s fear of never getting finished – his concern that the sands might run out of the glass before he had done his outmost and given his all” (5). He still wanted to write his greatest work before he died. Alert to the prospect of divine inspiration, Tadzio became his object of glorious admiration that ignited in the artist the promise of creation. By embracing the danger and adventure of fantasizing and stalking a young boy, his love symbolizes his thirst for artistic mastery and his desperation for “motus animi continuus”.

The moral conflicts that reside in Aschenbach are challenged and expressed through the symbol of his love for Tadzio. Homosexuality, although muffled, is repeatedly introduced as a lurking passion that is eventually punished by death. Mann in his essay “On Myself” outlined this point clearly: “My theme was the devastating invasion of passion, the destruction of the structured, apparently conclusively mastered life, which is degraded by the “foreign god,” by Eros-Dionysus, and thrust into the absurd.” (Koelb 110). His intention is to relieve his torment, not to overcome it, or embrace it. As a repressed homosexual, he is negotiating his passion, shifting the cardinal to the intellectual, to justify what he cannot accommodate as dignified and graceful. Mann’s hand-note distills this concept perfectly in one sentence: “Love of beauty leads to morality, to a renunciation of sympathy with the abyss” (Koelb 72). Aschenbach resists vulnerability with fierce. He seeks to justify and purify his passion. To his rescue, he summons ancient Greek philosophy, by quoting Plato’s “Phaedrus”, and takes refuge in Socrates words: “The lover was more divine than the beloved because god was in the former and not in the latter” (38). His journey from passion to degradation is traced by him, by repeating twice his quote of Socrates: “For beauty, my dear Phaedrus, beauty alone is both worthy of love and visible at the same time; beauty, mark me well, is the only form of spirit that our senses can both grasp and endure.” (38, 60). Tadzio’s beauty exulted him, but also uncovered his shame, and made him for once, vulnerable to his passion.

Although initially Mann disclosed in one of his letters that the story sought to imitate Goethe’s novel ‘Elective Affinities’ (Koelb 96), as he had clearly stated: “Originally I had not planned anything less than telling the story of Goethe’s last love, the love of the seventy-year-old for that little girl, whom he still absolutely wanted to marry…” (Koelb 94). This obvious theme of lust for a young juvenile eventually became only a backdrop, upon which, a deep-seated composition of internal conflicts and resolutions was developed. Mann himself befell in struggle with his intricate story: “I am tormented by a work, which, in the process of its execution, has evermore proved itself to be an impossible conception…” (Koelb 93). His effort clearly implies that there is hidden meaning beyond the apparent homosexual love of an older man for a teenage boy. Describing his work, Mann elaborated on the objective of his theme in one of his letters: “…but rather represents (Death in Venice) a dense network of intentions and relationships that possesses something organic and, therefore, thoroughly ambiguous.” (Koelb 95). These ambiguous layers of meaning are linked to Mann personally through his protagonist during the writing process: “What also came up at that time was a personal, lyric travel experience that made me determined to carry things to the pinnacle by introducing the motif of ‘forbidden’ love…” (Koelb 97).

This forbidden love that was reflected from Mann’s real life, to Aschenbach’s fictional character, carried the symbolism of personal fulfillment, the strain of moral attainment, and the cost of such quest. Mann seeks to evoke sympathy as he unravels the weaknesses of his eminent character. His suffering and consequent adversity are not resolved but only examined, before he is ultimately punished by fatal eradication. Aschenbach is sentenced from the very beginning to becoming a martyr, and an artistic icon, in the footsteps of St. Sebastian. Succumb by his passion, Aschenbach is stripped entirely of his dignity and grace. Morbidly, in one of his letters, Mann concludes: “It does not have a positive ending; the dignity of the “hero and poet” is completely destroyed. It is a real tragedy…” (Koelb 93).

Works Cited

Koelb, Clayton, ed. Death in Venice: A New Translation, Backgrounds and Contexts Criticism. New York: WW Norton, 1994.

Mann, Thomas. Death in Venice. Translated by Clayton Koelb. New York: WW Norton, 1994.

Photo by Chema Madoz

“Was he a Beast if Music Could Move Him so?”

Kafka’s Metamorphosis

Before his transformation, Gregor was a dependable son and brother; his unforeseen metamorphosis resonates to the ubiquitous antagonism and exclusion, performed by society, towards diversity and change; shamefully dehumanizing any variation of the model norm. In each of the three parts, the protagonist attempts to exit his room, and is faced with gruesome revolt by his spectators, who want nothing more than to keep him out of sight. In his final exit, lured by the seductive sound of music, he is briefly reminded of his humanity, and we are given a valuable hint on the concealed influence of music as a structural element that drives the storyline. The three parts of the “Metamorphosis” mirror in absolute harmony the three movements of a musical sonata; exposition, development, and recapitulation (Jacobson).

As in any sonata, the exposition presents the two main themes of the piece. In this case, Gregor in his room, and Gregor exiting his room. In the first movement, the protagonist seems utterly disoriented in his new existence. He feels safe, although, barricaded in his room, almost like in a sanctuary, as the concerned voices of his family call out to him. As he exits the room, in a quivering Adagio, and reveals himself, the initial response of petrifying terror, swiftly escalates to disgraceful harassment, as he is forcibly chased back into his room.

The two main themes are further developed in the second part, but as the sonata form commands; with intended contrast to the first exposition. Now his room serves as a prison, protecting the family pride from his shameful entity. His parents, angry that their settled life was disturbed, deny his existence, and only his sister visits his room to offer him scrap food, without concealing her disgust. He has gained adept control over his body, trotting every surface. This time he dares exit the room briskly by adhering on the house walls, suggestive of Andante tempo. His father’s ungrateful entitlement reaches a crescendo as he relentlessly bashes him with apple-shaped bullets.

Kafka recapitulates in Grave tempo, Gregor’s decaying plight. Unable to move, surrounded by filthy debris, he is withdrawn; a dormant reminisce of his competent and productive self. Guilt-ridden, his family keeps his room door open, nonchalant of peril. With frail sinew, the tender sound of his sister playing the violin animates his imminent corpse to impel his final exit. This time they make no advance at him; instead, it is their dismissive and hurtful words that impaled him to retreat to his tomb, where he submits to his death. Finally, to gratify the full sonata form, Kafka included a Coda; a tailpiece at the end of the storyline, to construe the resolution of the family from the burden of a beast.

Kafka had every intention to write a masterpiece. It seems that with deliberation he employed the sonata form to drive the plot, using the universal language of music to tell a story of lost humanity, inscribing his inspiration in the most poignant stanza: “Was he a beast if music could move him so?” (Kafka).

Works Cited

Jacobson, Bernard. “Sonata Form.” Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved from: https://www.britannica.com/art/sonata-form

Kafka, Franz. “Metamorphosis and other stories (M. Hofmann, Trans.).” London, NY: Penguin (2017).

Travelling Through Kafka’s Penal Colony

In the penal colony, Kafka sends out a dexterous invitation for a journey through his story, as a travelling researcher, by cleverly recruiting the limited omniscient third voice. His command is executed with military restraint, as he barricades all other characters, but the traveller, who he enlists to besiege the central role. Without surrendering entirely the inner workings of the traveler, Kafka provides tactical insight to his character, as well as, strategically catapults his thoughts and feelings.

Most of the interpretation with regard to the character of the traveller can be inferred directly from the narrative. The few descriptions dedicated to his nature, portray an honorable and decisive man: “He was basically an honest man, and he knew no fear. Even so, he hesitated for a moment… and then he said what he had to say: ‘No’.” (Kafka 171). Consistently, he is depicted as a man who has a clear opinion, but does not wish to interfere, nevertheless; adhering most suitably to the profile of a traveller, nothing more than a researcher. Despite his initial intentions to remain a bystander, he soon realizes that once he is on the island he cannot remain a mere spectator.

The weight of the central character is carried primarily by his own thoughts. Kafka devotes the greater part of his otherwise restrained portrayal of the traveller, to directly reveal his thoughts as they spur on the moment and drive the plot further. The protagonists insights, serve as navigation: “The fact that he had been asked to witness this execution even seemed to suggest that his opinion on this justice was being sought.” (Kafka 163). The directive purpose of his thinking aims to reflect on the reader, the mental route upon Kafka carefully maps out each maneuver in the story.

Feelings of injustice, disapproval, curiosity, and horror, associated with the execution of the judgment in the penal colony are predictable, and expected to arise; therefore Kafka did not invest on the traveller to animate them with any immediate urgency. On the contrary, he chose to transverse only the feelings that would secure an unexpected, yet controlled alliance with conflicting emotions of growing admiration towards the officer and his reverence to the vision of the previous commandant (Kafka 151). By revealing directly his hidden sentiments: “The traveller found himself warming to the machine a little” (Kafka 152), Kafka implants intentionally an emotional compass to which he controls the gravitational field.

In a stern voice, appropriately emitting the military scape, Kafka becomes the tour guide of the expedition to the penal colony. By appointing the traveller as the main character, he assigns an avatar to which he anchors a psychological journey through designated emotional sites. As such, the reader becomes a traveller of his own right, until the story drifts along the closing lines, sailing away from the thrilling island of the penal colony.

 

Works Cited

Kafka, Franz. “Metamorphosis and other stories (M. Hofmann, Trans.).” London, NY: Penguin (2017).

Siddhartha Wears Many Robes on His Path to Nirvana

Herman Hesse uses clothing and appearance to reflect the changing life-cycles of Siddhartha on his spiritual path to Nirvana. Concurrent with the teachings of the Buddha, that all matter goes through birth and rebirth, and that all beings go through cycles of transformations; in the same manner, the protagonist also perpetually changes and evolves throughout his life. As his search for meaning remains unsatisfied by the teachings of the Brahmans, he reinvents himself and joins the Samanas in the forest to reach his innermost self, through prayer and fasting. Respectively he soon realizes that Nirvana is not some virtue that can be taught with words, and forth he must wonder on his own in order to find the path of wisdom. Siddhartha’s journey to enlightenment is illustrated by his clothes and changing appearance as poor Samana, later as a rich businessman, and finally as a wise ferryman.

His clothes and appearance as Samana reflect his quest for salvation through self-deprivation. Hesse, portrayed Siddhartha’s attempt to reach Nirvana as he shed his Brahman-cast cloths to join the pilgrims in the forest and become a holy man himself, and attain Atman. His readiness to physically emulate the teachings of the Buddha is glaring: “Siddhartha gave his garments to a poor Brahman in the street. He wore nothing more than the loincloth and the earth-coloured, unsown cloak. He ate only once a day, and never something cooked.” (Hesse 13). He willingly deprived himself of the pleasures of food as he fasted to the point that his face and body became visibly emaciated. His hair and nails grew long and were unkempt and full of dirt, defying vanity and superficial deceptions of the world. His scant attire reflects his state of spiritual resistance to all things worldly. In the cloths of a Samana, Siddhartha meditated and fasted away his lust for the female flesh. He became a humble student of righteousness and benevolent virtue. By transforming into a Samana and through the teachings of his most admired Gotama, he strived to end his souls suffering and reach enlightenment. Through his dedicated spiritual search as a pilgrim, in his old, torn loincloth, with bare, dusty feet, he concluded that the path to wisdom cannot be taught, even by the wisest teacher, but must be experienced instead.

Siddhartha resolved to immerse himself in Sansara by first adapting his physical appearance. His clothes reflect his grown love for earthly things: “Siddhartha had learned to trade, to use his power over people, to enjoy himself with a woman, he had learned to wear beautiful clothes, to give orders to servants, to bathe in perfumed waters. He had learned to eat tenderly and carefully prepared food, even fish, even meat and poultry, spices and sweets, and to drink wine, which causes sloth and forgetfulness.” (Hesse 75). He transformed from a dirty Samana of the forest to a groomed businessman, as if he was reborn to a new life cycle. He wore pretty, beautiful clothes, and pretty, fine shoes to satisfy the pretty courtesan Kamala. So Kamala, in turn, would satisfy the lustful passion of Siddhartha. His expensive garments, his combed and perfumed hair, exult the capacity to become anyone in a course of a lifetime; much like a stone can become anything in the course of eternity. Hesse, in this way, manifests the cyclic change of truth to deception, holy to sinful, salvation to suffering. His extended wandering of the world of the childlike people, in rich clothes and oily hair, left him in vacant despair. His rich cloths, his superficial possessions, did not bring him any closer to his path of self-discovery.

In his final incarnation, Siddhartha signified his transformation as a ferryman by asking to trade his wealthy attire for an old loincloth. The clothes that annoyed him, the clothes that represented his old self, the sinful self, the foolish self, were eagerly discarded. The river had spoken to him, and he was able to hear it. He had died and was reborn in the river. He was born with new knowledge. He had learned from the river that time is an illusion that life moves in cycles: “Not eternal is the world of appearances, not eternal, anything but eternal are our garments and the style of our hair, and our hair and bodies themselves.” (Hesse 92). After hearing the Om, Siddhartha wore a smile on his face and carried love in his heart. Love was no longer a weakness of the childlike people. In the final stage of his life as a ferryman, no reference is made to his carnal self, hinting his spiritual transcendence. Siddartha came to the conclusion that nothing is entirely holy or entirely sinful. Nothing is entirely Sansara or Nirvana. Similarly, his final robe is not entirely physical, because ethereal was also his final cloak of wisdom, weaved of joyfulness, adorned with love, stitched with the pain of love, embellished with wonderful foolishness, bearing the weight of love and suffering. In his new spiritual attire, Siddhartha celebrated the oneness of life, the balance between Sansara and Nirvana.

Also, Kamala’s transformation is manifested by her changing clothes and appearance. The courtesan with the intricate hairstyle, the elaborate makeup, the colorful clothes, with her arrogant and lustful manners, that all signify a woman in Sansara; all indicate a woman of the childlike people. This woman, goes through her own cycle of existence, to change into a mother, to become a pilgrim of Gotama. Her dull clothes, her loose hair, her calm face, all count for her transfiguration towards her own path of salvation. Thus Hesse’s descriptions of clothing and appearance distinctly signify the spiritual landmarks in Siddhartha’s story. In each lifecycle, the protagonist becomes a new person that physically manifests the spiritual change within the self, with visual signifiers of clothing and appearance. Siddhartha, through his transformations, becomes a learner and seeks to collect the wisdom of his transitory existence, as the bees harvest the honey.

 

Works Cited

Hesse, Hermann. “Siddhartha, translated by Joachim Neugroschel.” (2002).