"Patriotism by Yukio Mishima

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A Display of Loyalty

Many people consider suicide a moral wrong or cowardly in that it is taking the easy way out of a tough situation. And, by our modern standards, that is typically the case. But, in the case of the story, “Patriotism,” written by Yukio Mishima, the suicide Lieutenant Shinji and his wife Reiko committed was the noble and honorable thing. The couple died together in order to preserve their honor and loyalty, which were key in setting of this story.

To truly judge the characters for their heroism, the setting of the story must be understood. “Patriotism” is set in Japan in 1936, which was the pre-World War II era. Patriotism and loyalty were at an all-time high, which created an atmosphere of duty and determination to serve. With that mindset, both characters were justified to sacrifice themselves for what they believed was the greater good. The story centers around the ideas of loyalty and the sacrifice required for that loyalty.

Heroism is about sacrificing the self for the greater good. Sometimes that sacrifice is part of a natural sequence of events, and sometimes it is a radical swerve from the path a person is on. Regardless, heroism requires a change to benefit others, often having the potential to harm the hero. A hero must decide that others are to be placed before themselves; they acknowledge that their very being is meant to aid the millions around them. In addition, heroes have a cause to fight for. The cause can be world impacting, or as simple as affecting one person. Whatever the cause is, a hero must dedicate themselves fully to what they believe. Heroes are in pursuit of perfection, but acknowledge their shortcomings as an obstacle to work around in order to help others. Heroes willingly accept their duty and don’t resent the sacrifices their decisions often require. Heroes are humble in their actions and don’t expect anything in return for their attempts to improve the lives of others. As Brodi Ashton, author of



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