Siddhartha is best described as philosophical literature. The main philosophical question of this story is: what is enlightenment, and how can one achieve it? Siddhartha spends many years pondering and experimenting with different ways of life before becoming enlightened. He first adopts an ascetic life, after which he indulges in the material life, before finally finding his own Nirvana at the edge of a river. The story emphasizes the value of life experience beyond books. Ancient writings and thousands of years of spiritual practice underlie Siddhartha's original question of how to become enlightened, but he achieves it primarily through experience.
Critics also refer to this story as a quest. Siddhartha's quest takes the form of a search for truth and enlightenment. He seeks Nirvana, a state of harmony in which one has a universal understanding of life. In a sense, he resembles a hero who must complete a journey with many stages in order to reach his goal.
And finally, because this tale charts Siddhartha's development from boyhood to manhood, it often garners the label bildungsroman. The bildungsroman genre deals with a person's formative years or spiritual education. Siddhartha undergoes numerous trials and achieves a form of maturity at the story's end. This genre also provides guidance for readers as it presents a number of moral lessons that the protagonist must endure. Siddhartha learns many lessons, including those about the value of independence and the potential pitfalls of living the extreme lifestyle of an ascetic or materialist.