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How does the presentation of life journeys compare between Tita and Mikage in Laura Esquivels Like Water for Chocolate and Banana Yoshimotos Kitchen?

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How does the presentation of life journeys compare between Tita and Mikage in Laura Esquivel's Like Water for Chocolate and Banana Yoshimoto's Kitchen? The idea of a life journey initiates a potentially controversial discussion, particularly when concepts of control, destiny and free will are raised. Both Banana Yoshimoto's Kitchen and Laura Esquivel's Like Water for Chocolate explore the reasons and motivations for embarking on a journey, and indeed the inevitability of one. The protagonists have been crafted as strong, independently minded female characters who, as representations of reality, are as in control of their lives and destinies as any individual. Consequently, it is interesting to examine the extent to which life journeys are experienced by Mikage and Tita, Yoshimoto and Esquivel"s respective protagonists. By understanding the motivations of the characters, the readers can potentially gain an insight into their own life, their own world, and be inspired to acquire the tools to start out on a new life journey for themselves. In Kitchen, Mikage is introduced as an isolated and lonely young girl. A kitchen is used to emphasise her loneliness, with Mikage telling us that "the place I like best is the kitchen, it's just a little nicer that being alone" (Yoshimoto, 3). ...read more.


Mikage feels her "spirits began to lift" (Yoshimoto, 100) as Yuichi smiled, and here the reader sees that her journey is nearing completion. On the other hand, "Tita had returned to her senses" (Esquivel, 123) implying that her journey was a temporary but necessary one for her to resurrect her world. When Mikage travels from Izu to Isehara, it is evident that Yuichi and Mikage's relationship is far beyond friendship, highlighted by the comparison, "ordering me around like a new bride". Furthermore, the journey began as Mikage "spied a pink telephone" (Yoshimoto, 89); the colour "pink" being typically associated with love and romance further illustrates the status of their relationship. Mikage found that "it was a relief to hear his voice" (Yoshimoto, 89) when speaking on the phone, but that "his words seemed so far away" (Yoshimoto, 91). Yuichi being both physically and mentally far from Mikage led her to make the apparently spontaneous decision to pursue her love by taking a journey. As she arrived in Isehara, the doors were "securely locked as was the emergency exit" (Yoshimoto, 95), illustrating to the reader that Mikage has travelled far and is being forced to repeatedly question her actions. ...read more.


When looking at Mikage's journey, however, Yuichi had helped her heal when she had lost her grandmother, and a more genuine relationship can be seen because Mikage takes a journey to help him when he is unable to overcome Eriko's death. Tita makes use of Brown in order to regain her lost love; Mikage needs no intermediary to achieve her goals. Esquivel and Yoshimoto present the concept of inevitable journeys taken within our lives - both literal and metaphorical - as well as the different motivations and prompts for these journeys. Despite their female protagonists being described as strong and motivated individuals; both Tita and Mikage are subject to outside influences. The implications of this is important: if a strong character still requires and experiences input from external forces, then the suggestion is that nobody can escape their destiny. Both authors choose to end their novels on a positive note, with the dream world of the characters becoming a reality; both authors choose to offer the reader a comforting and reassuring finale. In a world full of increasing political unrest and uncertainty, the knowledge that we are ultimately unable to influence our destiny is perhaps more reassuring than frightening; especially when we are told that dreams can indeed come true. ...read more.

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