Regrets in The Remains of the Day

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Regrets in The Remains of the Day

“...For a great many people, the evening is the most enjoyable part of the day. Perhaps, then, there is something to his advice that I should cease looking back so much, that I should adopt a more positive outlook and try to make the best of what remains of my day. After all, what can we ever gain in forever looking back and blaming ourselves if our lives have not turned out quite as we might have wished? The hard reality is, surely, that for the likes of you and I, there is little choice other than to leave our fate, ultimately, in the hands of those great gentlemen at the hub of this world who employ our services. What is the point in worrying oneself too much about what one could or could not have done to control the course one’s life took? Surely it is enough that the likes of you and I at least try to make our small contribution count for something true and worthy. And if some of us are prepared to sacrifice much in life in order to pursue such aspirations, surely that is in itself, whatever the outcome, cause for pride and contentment.” (Ishiguro, 244)

The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro is a compelling tale of the model English butler who believes that he has served humanity by devoting his life to the service of a “great” man, Lord Darlington. It is that quest for Dignity and self-rule that entails him to challenge his own faith in the man that he served and the meaning of his own insular life. This tale (journey) is captured by the profound control of the language, which include the use of irony, allegory, and questions, all, clearly portrayed in the passage.

At the end of his three decades of service at Darlington Hall, Stevens (butler) begins a solitary motor trip through which he embarks on a harrowing journey through his own memory. It is on this journey, a motif which is used as a deceptive structural device, that Stevens begins to first question his Lord’s greatness and the meaning of his service. The farther Stevens travels from Darlington Hall, it seems, the closer he comes to fully understanding his life, then sets in the regrets. Upon arriving to the conclusion of Stevens’ journey, literal as well as meaningful, does one encounter the passage by Ishiguro, which ties up the all the loose ends and completes Mr. Stevens life chapter labeled “Past Regrets.”

In the passage Mr. ...

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...a lesson. Mr. Stevens as a matter of fact should give up dwelling on what happened in the past and should move on and enjoy the latter years of his life. Ishiguro also relates to the elite class as being the hub of the world. Without a hub there would be no wheel hence without the elite there is no world. A statement, which Stevens recognizes to be totally false. There are also questions/messages embedded in the passage. Stevens himself posses there is no reason in crying over spilled milk and blaming ourselves for unaccomplished wishes, and worrying about how one could have changed the course of their life. These messages directly reflect the mood of Stevens as he looked back upon his service and life. One should move on look forward to evening and make best of what remains of the day. The tone of the passage seems to be more of optimism as it acknowledges the beginning of a new chapter with the coming of the evening. A lesson to be learned is that do not get caught up in formalities, one should always follow and pursue his/her desire, and opinion. Forget your past and live for tomorrow.


Ishiguro, Kazuo. The Remains of The Day. New York: Vintage Books, 1988.

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