27 August 2012
In The Sound of Waves, Yukio Mishima explores the contrast between the corrupt influences of western civilization versus the power of nature. Mishima idealizes Japan through descriptive language and also through the characters. Mishima presents Yasuo as the antagonist to invoke the reader’s appreciation for nature and ultimately, Japan. He uses characterization to associate Yasuo, the antagonist, with corrupt Western influence. Furthermore, he integrates symbolism to further increase admiration for nature and Japan. Through symbolism and characterization, Mishima presents Yasuo as the antagonist and the foil to Shinji in order to manifest his love for nature and Japan.
Mishima uses characterization to present Yasuo as a physical incarnation of corrupt Western influence. Mishima characterizes Yasuo as deceitful and devious because he “possessed the power to make others follow him” (22). His father’s wealth resulted in Yasuo being spoiled, lazy, and manipulative, making others do his work for him on the Utajima-maru and even threatening the bosun when he tried to confront him. By characterizing Yasuo as prideful, lazy, and manipulative in contrast to the hardworking and innocent Shinji, Mishima implies that Yasuo embodies the spoiled and manipulative Western countries. Although Yasuo tries to utilize his wealth and power to get what he wants, the power of nature allows Shinji to overcome his adversary through hard work and honesty. Because Shinji has such a close harmony with nature in contrast to Yasuo, Mishima magnifies nature’s power and influence.
Mishima also integrates symbolism to further increase admiration for nature. For instance,
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