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To What Extent is The Sound of Waves a Good Depiction of the Genre Bildungsroman?

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To what extent is the novel The Sound of Waves a good depiction of the genre Bildungsroman? The Sound of Waves by Yukio Mishima is a post-World War II novel centering on the ill-fated lovers, Shinji and Hatsue. At first glance, the novel appears to be a classical love story of a couple kept apart due to social and environmental obstacles, but a deeper analysis reveals that The Sound of Waves may be better described as a coming-of-age novel, or rather Bildungsroman, compared to a simple love story. The overlaying plot of the story focuses mostly on the star-crossed lovers and how they overcome the obstacles that stood in their way, but Mishima did not want to keep this novel simple. In addition to the focus on the couple and very pure ideas of love, he puts an even greater and rather subtle emphasis on the development and change in character of the protagonist, Shinji. This is a rather subtle emphasis and until the very last sentence of the novel, it is truly difficult to spot Mishima?s true message. The underlying and main point of the entire novel is the growth of Shinji from a shy boy to a confident man. Mishima emphasizes this growth, development and change that The Sound of Waves is a better depiction of the genre Bildungsroman than a romance novel. ...read more.


When the entire village became the obstacle, Shinji began to rise above all else. With his reputable profile as being humble and hard-working, Shinji only needed a final push to becoming a man. This push came with the opportunity offered by Hatsue?s father, Terukichi Miyata, to become a ?rice-rinser?, apprentice seamen, to Terukichi?s boat Utajima-maru. During this journey, Shinji showed his courage and strength. His brave actions were rewarded with Terukichi?s acceptance and adoption into the family as Hatsue?s husband. His newly developed confidence and certainty in himself can be observed as ?[h]e knew it had been his own strength that had tided him through that perilous night? (Mishima 182). This statement was not made in arrogance or vanity as it was an internal though but one of pride and confidence. The Shinji at the beginning of the novel and the Shinji at the very end are two very different persons. By the end of the novel, Shinji had an entirely different mind-set and personality compared to his beliefs and character at the beginning of the novel. Mishima?s portrayal of Shinji?s growth is evident and fits with Bildungsroman?s most important idea, the development and growth of the character. The growth and development is an arduous and gradual maturity of the protagonist often met with many clashes between the protagonist?s needs and desires and the rules of an unbending social order. ...read more.


However this was not exactly the case in Shinji?s case. His journey was not spurred by a loss or discontent. Though the many obstacles posed by the villagers may have disheartened Shinji, he is by no means unhappy with his culture and beliefs. What prompted him on his journey did not come out of nowhere, but was rather very expected. In Uta-Jima, ?[w]hen boys of the village reached the age of seventeen or eighteen they began their maritime training in the capacity of ?rice-rinsers?? (Mishima, 148). Evidently, Shinji would eventually become a ?rice-rinser? and would have joined another ship had he not been offered a position by Terukichi. The journey was not one of loss but one of hope as there were possible hints that Terukichi was going to accept him. In this case what spurred the quest and journey was not the typical loss or discontent. Even though, The Sound of Waves is not a perfect depiction of the genre Bildungsroman, it is a very good representative of the genre. Perhaps not every single trait of Bildungsroman is echoed in the novel, but it is important to note that Bildungsroman is based on the basic principles of education and development and the journey from childhood to adulthood. These generalizations help to identify the genre but it is the differences that make the novel its own story. Everyone has a different story while going through the similar stages of development to reach maturity and their own niche and purpose within the society. ...read more.

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