Essay on Ritual Suicide- An Honorable Tradition

Essay on Ritual Suicide- An Honorable Tradition

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Ritual suicide is a tradition started by the Japanese Samurai around 1180AD. It consists of an individual cutting themselves horizontally across and down their abdomen, then finishing the act by slicing into their heads (Hilton). The Opera, Madame Butterfly by Giacomo Puccini, is a tragic romance that ends with the Japanese lover committing ritual suicide. Another story that portrays ritual suicide is “Patriotism” by Yukio Mishima. Both of these works shine light onto a Western culture that views such a sacrifice as an honor, and is also a deeply rooted in tradition. Ritual Suicide is an honorable and meaningful end to life that individuals have the choice of making when faced with deep shame, regret, or dishonor.
Ritual suicide is believed to have been conducted by Japanese Samurai for some 700 years, and was a highly ritualized process (Hilton). There were many steps taken to carry out ritual suicide. First the individual had to write a proper death poem or letter to give further meaning to the death. Next, the individual would bathe and change into formal clothes and go to the area he designated for the suicide. More often than not there would be witnesses at this place. This location would be spotless and decorated with a white cloth. Lastly a dagger would be drawn and the individual would slice open their abdomen with the dagger. After slicing into the abdomen the person would take the dagger to their throat and slice all the way through, but not enough to completely decapitate their heads (Hilton). Ritual suicide did not have to involve these steps exactly and could be done hastily, however the cut with a dagger to the abdomen was almost always completed. Ritual suicide was conducted for numerous reasons, but most commonl...


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...-130. Rpt. in Contemporary Literary Criticism. Ed. Jeffrey W. Hunter. Vol. 196. Detroit: Gale, 2005.Literature Resource Center. Web. 9 Apr. 2014.
Carroll, Michael Thomas. "The Bloody Spectacle: Mishima, the Sacred Heart, Hogarth, Cronenberg, and the Entrails of Culture." Studies in Popular Culture 15.2 (1993): 43-56. Rpt. in Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism. Ed. Thomas J. Schoenberg and Lawrence J. Trudeau. Vol. 161. Detroit: Gale, 2005. Literature Resource Center. Web. 9 Apr. 2014.
Talmor, Sascha. "Mishima--A Passion for Life and Death." Durham University Journal (July 1991): 269-276. Rpt. in Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism. Ed. Thomas J. Schoenberg and Lawrence J. Trudeau. Vol. 161. Detroit: Gale, 2005. Literature Resource Center. Web. 9 Apr. 2014.
Lee, Kori. "Eastern vs. Western Views of Death and Suicide." HubPages. 15 Jan. 2013. Web. 09 Apr. 2014. Web.

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