Social and Cultural Context of Yukio Mishima's Swaddling Clothes and Evelyn Sharp's The Game That Wasn't Cricket

Social and Cultural Context of Yukio Mishima's Swaddling Clothes and Evelyn Sharp's The Game That Wasn't Cricket

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Some people think that they should not have to read texts written in the past or in a different culture, because it isn’t relevant to them. As logical as this may sound, it is not altogether accurate: readers will recognise within the text ideas familiar to their own context. This is particularly true in the short stories “Swaddling Clothes” by Yukio Mishima and “The Game that wasn’t Cricket” by Evelyn Sharp. Written in Japan in the 1960s, “Swaddling Clothes” deals with the great western modernisation of the nation and the effects this had on its society. The loss of respect for morality that shows up in the story is one thing that readers from today’s western cultures recognise, together with the idea that although a culture may be altered, there are still many deeply imbedded societal expectations which are very difficult to destroy. One set of expectations, those of gender, has been challenged in Sharp’s “The Game that wasn’t Cricket”, which in its own context (England in the early 1900s) challenged the readers’ own beliefs. For contemporary Australian readers the story raises awareness of the true state of gender expectations within their society. Each reader’s cultural and social context influences their reading of these texts and they recognise elements of their own societies within them, enabling every reader to gain meaning from the texts.

As societies progress and change supposedly for the better, they often face difficulties in sustaining their morals and values under the pressure to conform. In the 1950s and earlier, before the rapid technological advances of the past few decades, morals and standards were very high and there was pressure to conform to these. However, in recent times as our society has been modernis...


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...ext’s influence on their reading they perceive elements of their own societies within it. Although “The Game that wasn’t Cricket” was written in England in the 1900s, contemporary Australian readers can recognise the gender expectations still existent in their culture, which are leftovers from those of England one hundred years earlier. The loss of respect for morality evident in “Swaddling Clothes”, written in Japan in the 1960s, is still relevant to readers in present-day western cultures, along with the idea that although a culture may be altered, there are still many deeply imbedded societal expectations which are very difficult to destroy, like gender expectations. Despite the fact that a text may be read in a context different to that in which it was written, the way that readers’ contexts influence their reading of the texts, means that they are still relevant.

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