Character Analysis Of Yukio Mishima's 'Swaddling Clothes'

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When the writer Jackson H. Brown said “ 20 years from now one will be more disappointed by the things one did not do than by the things one did do,” he showcases how missed opportunities lead to regret in the future. Similarly, the author Yukio Mishima depicts how people cope with this remorse. In his short story “ Swaddling Clothes”, Mishima explores a guilty conscience by defining the dream sequence of the protagonist, who learns to deal with her corrupt marriage, unleash her hidden voice, and question ascribed status. Toshiko’s unfulfilling marriage causes her to feel isolated and alone. At first, her empty relationship drives Toshiko to bottle up her emotions, but when she discovers independence, all feelings of stress and anxiety are…show more content…
In “ Swaddling Clothes”, Toshiko and her husband are gifted with wealth and luxury, while the nanny and her child live in poverty. This inequality causes Toshiko to feel ashamed of her privileges, as a response, she dreams of sacrificing her life and ranking. When Toshiko is in the cab, she worries about the future of the child as “ [he will] never become a respectable citizen ... [not with] soiled newspapers... [as a] symbol of his entire life,”(67). Mishima symbolizes the unjust birth of the newborn using “soiled newspapers” as the baby is born into lower class, and in Toshiko’s mind, he will remain there for the rest of his life. Toshiko becomes the scapegoat in her dream, when she lets “[his] powerful hand seize [her as she makes] no effort to free herself,”(68). Toshiko puts herself in danger when she approaches the man; she puts herself in harm when she does not fight his grasp. In brief, Toshiko is offering her power to the homeless man as she gives him her control and privilege. Toshiko’s efforts to bind the gap between the homeless man and herself result in an ambiguous ending, but The Guardian’s article “ Is the American Dream Really Dead?” proves that in America, social immobility prevents the poor from succeeding. A major contributor to this is the “ lack of hope in the US” as “ poor people in the US are less likely to believe hard-work will get them ahead,”(The Guardians). Attitude and ascribed status cause social inequality to remain
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