The Bitter Taste of "Glory"

1328 Words6 Pages
This particular passage was chosen because it details the climactic moment within Mishima’s novella where Noboru and his friends, acting on their sense of betrayal by Ryuji, lure him to an abandoned military based on the pretext of hearing him recount stories of his life at sea, and end by poisoning him. This extract encapsulates a great deal of the thematic concerns and literary motifs which are present in the main body of the narrative, and brings the entire work to an abstract, almost mystical, resolution. I will attempt to demonstrate how certain aspects of this work may pertain to certain events in the author’s life, and how the spectre of the authors own meticulously planned suicide a few years later resides in the highly ritualised death of the sailor Ryuji. This extract, like the much of the narrative, is imbued with a great deal of simplistic and emotive language. There are many metaphysical allusions to the womb and maternal love in the portrayal of Fusako- Noboru’s protective and melancholy mother. Given Mishima’s hatred for Westernization, are we to assume that the portrayal of the old fashioned and traditional Fusako, with her dislike of modernity, that this work is in essence an allegorical representation of the corruption and westernization of Japanese society? The fact that Ryuji’s murder takes place in an abandoned U.S military base, suggests that there are many hidden dimensions to this work. The ‘Grand Cause’, which is referenced at the beginning of this extract, has many connotations, aside from what the author suggests it to be- merely ‘another name for the tropical sun’. It seems to suggest a search for some form of divinity, a quest for meaning amongst the seas. When Mishima purposely attempts to disguis... ... middle of paper ... ...e eventual outcome. This line suggests that what is taking place is difficult for Noboru, but he thinks it necessary nonetheless. This scene invokes an imagined scene of an assisted suicide, a notable aspect of Seppuka, where the followers and closest comrades of the disgraced Samurai assist him in taking his own life. The scene, eerily resembles that which would take place a few years later, with the author’s own suicide. This ‘Glory’ which ‘as anyone knows is bitter stuff’, is restored to the Sailor, who had failed to achieve when it mattered. The portrayal of Glory, the macabre desire for a glorious death, for ‘the pinnacle of manliness’ all contribute to an incredibly disturbing interpretation of the author’s state of mind, in this, his most celebrated work. Needless to say, the bitter taste of ‘Glory’ in Mishima’s work, leaves an unpleasant after-taste.
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