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Usage of Characterization In Ryonosuke Akutagawa's Rashomon

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Usage of Characterization In Ryonosuke Akutagawa's Rashomon and The Martyr Winniarti Donyada 10th February 2005 (Extension Granted) English 401--> H 1000 words Winniarti Donyada English 401--> H 10th Feb 2005 Despite coming from a different background than most other authors that have so far been studied, Ryonosuke Akutagawa still wrote stories that included similar ideas like internal and external conflict, sacrifice of oneself for a higher cause, murder, human flaws and many others. In addition to that, Akutagawa also used common literary elements like motifs, symbols, point of view and irony. However, one element that is prevalent in almost all of his works is characterization. In two of his short stories, Rashomon and The Martyr, characterization is used to develop their respective themes; in Rashomon, characterization is equally important in building up the theme as in The Martyr. In Rashomon, characterization is used to show the theme that the desperate situations that a person faces can result in the resorting to means that compromise morals, and can even lead to hypocrisy. Akutagawa does this through narration and behavior of the character. ...read more.


Therefore, the fact that the protagonist was incredibly desperate made him compromise his morals. In addition to that, Akutagawa also used behavior to prove the theme of this short story. By definition, humans are animals with morals, so by comparing the protagonist to animals, Akutagawa is showing the readers how he slowly loses his morals. He portrays the protagonist as animal like in several instances when he compares him to a cat and a lizard. Also, the author shows the hypocrisy of the main character during the confrontation that he had with the old woman who was stealing hair from corpses, because even though he knew from the very beginning that stealing was absolutely wrong, he still stole from the old lady out of desperation. Thus, through the protagonist's desperate and animal-like traits, Akutagawa shows that when people are faced with a dire situation, they will be willing to overlook their morals for the sake of their survival, which could also lead to hypocrisy. ...read more.


into the fire to save his own child." (Akutagawa 74). Therefore, the fact that the brothers were accusatory helps Akutagawa to show that in this short story, people were quick to assume the worst in a person, even though they may have shown approval initially. In the two different stories, characterization is used to prove the themes, and in both cases, they are equally important. However, there are similarities and differences as to how characterization is used. One similarity that they share is the fact that in both stories, characterization is mainly shown through narration. Indeed in both cases character traits can be extracted through speech, but they are more apparent in the narration. On the other hand, one difference is that in Rashomon, there was only a single person that was being characterized to prove the theme, and this character was less of a one-dimensional figure than the characters in The Martyr, whereas in that story, a whole community was being characterized through their actions, as well as through the introspection of one member of the community. ?? ?? ?? ?? 1 ...read more.

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