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The Journey To An Inevitable Death

2194 words - 9 pages

Japanese culture is very different from culture that many Americans are use too. The differences, some large, some small are ones that really need to be looked at closely. In Japanese culture the idea of suicide is often embraced in an effort for enlightenment. When Chikamatsu creates a piece of art littered with tragedy he shows the duel between a society unwilling to change and an individual who is changing and leaving the path of the social norm. The work of Chikamatsu is an art, the majority of his work being that of a puppet show, when dealing with a puppet show it is, imaginably, difficult for the audience to see how the characters are changing and leaves little room for the character to develop both mentally and physically, however, Chikamatsu is able to penetrate into the true nature of things and makes the audience feel as what is happening is real. That being said Chikamatsu is able to take the audience on a ride, through scenes where the reader feels the sorrow, the pain, the love of the characters and are able to relate and sympathize for the characters in which they are watching develop. Chikamatsu forces characters to their final demise by portraying their battle of human nature against their social and personal obligations.
Suicide is defined in the Merriam-Webster dictionary as “the act of killing yourself because you do not want to continue living.” However, Chikamatsu gives a very different meaning to it. Yes, in essence it is still how it is defined in the dictionary but the reason behind it bears much more weight. According to the American Religious Identification Survey (ARIS) 76% of Americans would consider themselves to be part of the Christian faith. According to the Roman Catholic Church, suicide betrays the commandment “Thou shall not kill,” and in layman's terms rejecting god’s gift of physical life. (Byron) Chikamatsu, on the contrary, was Japanese and was presenting his play to a Japanese crowd who more than likely practiced Buddhism. In the Buddhist faith, committing suicide is not always looked down upon and more so can be looked at as an honorable act if done for the right reasons. Often, it is looked at as a noble act in the search of enlightenment. (Becker 546) In Chikamatsu’s Love Suicides at Amijima, he uses suicide as an act in which redeems them from their past and shows the commitment of a promise to their lover in order to be together in reincarnation. Chikamatsu uses Buddhist themes in his works by showing the star crossed lovers’ ultimate goal of reaching the “pure land” by committing the act of suicide to purify themselves. The literature in Chikamatsu’s works does not come from the act of suicide itself but is dependent of the situations and life choices that lead up to the suicide. (Heine)
Suicide in the works of Chikamatsu, is the characters final demise. More importantly we must now explore the events that lead these characters to their early self-inflicted deaths. Often there is a character who is...

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