“Siddhartha” by Herman Hesse exemplifies the way one character serves as a foil to a main character. In this novel, Govinda serves as the foil to Siddhartha. Both Siddhartha and Govinda are in search of enlightenment but unlike Siddhartha, Govinda is a follower, he is a shadow to Siddhartha. Govinda highlights what may seem as weaknesses of Siddhartha and makes them look as if they are strengths. Siddhartha is on a quest to find enlightenment and his childhood friend Govinda follows along in hope that if he stays close to Siddhartha, he will find fame and share Siddhartha’s glory.
The relationship between Siddhartha and Govinda forms a circular path; starting as young boys set on reaching enlightenment, they offer one another a sense of companionship and support. Although they are both on a journey towards the same thing, the way they find enlightenment is completely different. While Siddhartha is independent and free-thinking, Govinda is always a follower but his presence in the novel helps the reader understand that the desire for enlightenment is more important than the particular method used to attain it.
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When Siddhartha and Govinda reach the Buddha, Govinda decides to separate from Siddhartha and remain as a Monk while Siddhartha feels he still has not reached complete enlightenment. At this point Govinda and Siddhartha start on their different paths to find enlightenment; Govinda continues to search for enlightenment through others teachings while Siddhartha goes on and learns from his own experiences.
By Govinda staying back and following people after Siddhartha leaves him makes him a foil to Siddhartha by showing that Siddhartha can continue on and knows what he wants while Govinda will always continue to follow people and learn from what they do right or wrong. Althought Govinda and Siddhartha separate Govinda continues to follow Siddhartha. Many years later when Siddhartha is feeling as if he should end his life, Govinda shows up to watch over him and protect him from the snakes.
When Siddhartha awakens he does not recognize who Govinda is at first but Govinda is still there to help Siddhartha think otherwise about suicide. Also after the ferryman leaves and Siddhartha takes over the job of the ferryman Govinda goes to ask the farryman for advice and realizes it is Siddhartha once he starts talking to him. Siddhartha once again is Govinda’s leader and tells him that searching for enlightenment through others in not the answer anymore. Throughout the novel, Siddhartha is always guiding Govinda through life, no matter what time in life it is.
He began to guide Govinda when they left home to become a Samana all the way until Govinda went to the ferryman for advice. Govidna highlights Siddhartha as a strong noble leader that can overcome anything, while others are following the same thoughts, beliefs and religions their whole life; just as Govinda; but Siddhartha chooses a different path. Siddhartha decides that through so many of the different teachings he goes through, his own experiences are what help him find the ultimate enlightenment and Govinda furthers his success by always following the teachings Siddhartha turned away from.