Comparison of The Love Suicides at Sonezaki and Romeo and Juliet - Book Report/Review Example

William Shakespeare and Chikamatsu Monzaemon were both prominent literary figures of their time. Each one halfway around the world and born at least fifty years apart, they give us a glimpse of the society of their time. Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet and Monzaemon's Sonezaki Shinju have been compared as both dealt with double suicides done in the name of love.
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Comparison of The Love Suicides at Sonezaki and Romeo and Juliet

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Download file to see previous pages Both Romeo and Juliet and Sonezaki Shinju tell us the story of the suicide of two lovers due to the odds against their love affairs. Both are heart-wrenching and remind us of the bitter-sweet and turbulent emotions of young love.
However similar the plot of these two plays may be, there are certain differences that mark the uniqueness of each. Both Romeo and Juliet and Sonezaki Shinju are expressions of social conventions of their time. Both Eastern and Western cultures, or the British and Japanese cultures for that matter, are mirrored in these opuses. These literary pieces can be best understood in the societal context in which they occurred.
Romeo and Juliet gives us a peek into the pre-modern Elizabethan period in England. During this era, many people die young and are expected to marry at an age younger than the age most of the youths marry today. Juliet was only 13 in the story, only just on the onset of her adolescence (Wikipedia). Romeo was also only in his adolescent stage in the story. William Shakespeare himself, on the other hand, was only eighteen years old when he married.
Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet is said to be a dramatization of Arthur Brook's poem The Tragical History of Romeus and Juliet, which is said to be inspired by an Italian tale (Wikipedia). Italian tales were popular in England theaters during those times. Brooke's poem, on which Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet was based, was "a translation and an adaptation of the Italian Giuletta e Romeo by Matteo Bandello," which, in turn, was alleged to be based on a true story (Wikipedia).

Chikamatsu Monzaemon's Sonezaki Shinju takes us to the pre-modern Edo period in Japan. During this period, courtesans or geishas were part of the Japanese society while arranged marriage and dowry-giving were societal norms. Ohatsu and Tokubei, the main characters of Sonezaki Shinju, were also young lovers. Ohatsu was a courtesan and a courtesan exists to give pleasure to men and not to be enamored with a single man. On the other hand, Tokubei was a simple clerk who was expected to strike a match with a girl from a good family to improve his situation in life. Sonezaki Shinju is said to be based on an event that really happened in Osaka (Kabuki). Because of the double suicide theme, it has been said to be the Japanese Romeo and Juliet (Holden).
Similarities Between Romeo And Juliet And Sonezaki Shinju
Both Romeo and Juliet and Sonezaki Shinju have ill-fated young lovers as main characters. The passion, romanticism, and recklessness of youth have played a major role in their early demise. The element of young love as a powerful, and sometimes destructive, force in the life of the youth is present in both literary pieces. Also, the defiance of norms in the name of love.

Both stories also show us the young lovers' resistance of existing societal norms and conventions. Romeo and Juliet come from warring clans but they asserted their love for each other despite this. They had married secretly in defiance of the feud between both their families. In Sonezaki Shinju, Tokubei refused an advantageous alliance with his uncle's niece and chose a courtesan, Ohatsu. Ohatsu, on the other hand, chose death with Tokubei over the circumstances that threaten their ...Download file to see next pagesRead more
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