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"…I cut it out and pasted it into an album where I keep things that amuse me…" p.15. Meursault portrayed this strange character when he met a Kruschem Salt advertisement. He cut the section of the paper containing the advert and place it in the album. The album is where he keeps things that amuse him in the article. The character is strange since only a few people can do that.
“…and asked me if I wasn't disgusted by the way the old man served his dog. I answered: No," p.19. Salmon was mistreating his dog and calling it names. Besides, he pulled his dog up the stairs, and the dog was resisting. When Sintes asked Meursault if he was not disgusted, by the way, Solomon was treating his dog; he said he was not. The character is strange since, in a way, he was communicating that, the dog has to be handled carelessly. The dog is an animal and must, therefore, earn some respect.
“But I wasn’t sure if I could smoke, under the circumstances-in Mother’s presence” p.7. Meursault was not sure whether he could smoke in the presence of his mother. The character is strange since his mother was a dead body, and therefore, I do not find anything that could hinder him from doing what will satisfy his quest, for example, smoking. The statement, therefore, means that he was not free to do certain things in the presence of his mother. I do not consider smoking a big deal since people do it openly.
"Shall I tell them to wait, for you to have a last glimpse of your mother? No, I said," p.9. The character is strange since because of the affection one may have on his parents, they may want to have a last glimpse to the body before being laid to the grave. However, when Meursault was asked if he could do the same, he refused.
“What was her age...? I did not know exactly how old she was” p.11. Meursault portrayed a strange character when he was asked the age of her mother that he said that he does not know. I consider it odd since the mother had died, and it was time the body was being transported home; he had enough time to research for such details. Unfortunately, he did not look for the details
The Stranger: Peculiar Nature of Meursault
English & Literature
Films are a manifestation of the social, economic and political situation in society. With the passage of time, change was inevitable, and the conservative Japanese society shifted. Yakuza films were not left behind. They too changed and film directors dumped the old conservative ways, and adopted scenes of moral decay in society in films as was the case during the time the movies were acted. Therefore, moral squalor in society has been portrayed in the Yakuza films that largely featured in the 2000s.The much love associated with the films died as social, economic, and political shifts were witnessed from 1990s to the subsequent years towards mid 2000s thereby rendering the films nonconsensual to the slow changing conservative to democratic society. Yakuza culture, as presented in the films, is not only symbolic, but also confer real benefits in the criminal underworld. Symptomatic approach, as applied in analyzing this paper involves providing an explanation of the Yakuza situation in society based on the character of the doer of actions in the film. This paper argues that the changing nature of the Japanese society in the 2000s led to dislike and subsequent death of the art of Yakuza films by portraying Yakuza and its members as blood-thirsty and sketchy group.
Yakuza group began in the Tokugawa Shogunate period and had two different groups. The first group was tekiya who moved from one village to other selling goods of low quality to earn a living. The second group was the bakuto who engaged in gambling as a primary source of income. Since then, the Yakuza group has been a dominant part of the Japanese culture. At the onset of the formation of the groups, society regarded them as social organizations meant to foster peaceful stay in society. When one community wrong another one, they would consent to the symbolic offering of the small finger as a means of settling dispute amicably. Where controversy existed that could not be agreed upon, each Yakuza group would bring their best fighter to compete in a fight to solve the issue. At some point the fighter would die. The death of the fighter would be attributed to the sacrifice of the Yakuza for the greater good of society (Schrader 3). People loved and identified with the Yakuza. The emergence of the film industry to further show the goodwill of the Yakuza, and received remarkable support from society. In most of the films, the Antagonist would die or be imprisoned for the sake of his community.
As time goes by, so does change crop in, and in the years after the Second World War, Yakuza had lost track of their initial ways of carrying out business and protecting society. Instead of being the custodian of peace, they were the instigators of moral decadence. Having made alliances with the ruling party and the government, Yakuza, conducted illegal business without much restriction. With the economic decline in the 1990s, the Yakuza thrived more in prostitution activities. They could easily acquire pornographic actors and actresses for filming. Besides, due to their financial endowment, they started strip clubs, hotels and brothels where prostitution would be carried out. The movies of the early 2000s, written from the backdrop of moral squalor in Japanese society at the time portrayed Yakuza and its members as a blood-thirsty and sketchy group through symbolism such as violence, drugs, sex as well as stereotypes such as tattoos, formal attires, and fancy cars. Besides, the gangs are rich organizations with their wealth rooted in criminal activities such as prostitution, women and drug trafficking, and money laundering.
The political situation in japan helped shape the social and economic activities as presentenced in Yakuza films (Treverton and Gregory 111). According to Treverton and Gregory, the police used Yakuza groups to maintain peace and order, and it is the symbiotic association with the police that helped it to survive (112). In films such as Dead or Alive 2, and outrage, we see gang leaders publicly and freely conducting illegal business in marked premises. Use of symbols such as Dragon tattoos on doors is evident in Tokyo and other cities. According to Treverton and Gregory, Yakuza offices are clearly marked with the symbol of the gang, hence making it easy to locate the gang offices (117). In Dead or alive 2, Mizuki Okamoto is hired to assassinate a Yakuza gang leader who resides in an office with red Dragon drawings on the door. The use of symbols both in the films and in reality show how much the government and the police force know about the presence of the gangs but do not take lawful actions.
Gambling is another feature that best identifies the Yakuza group. The gambling activity of the group traces back to more than a hundred years ago The bakuto group is one of the groups that constitute the Yakuza group and it is primarily associated with gambling. In the early 2000s, the main gambling activities of the Yakuza group were to run the gambling joints in the entertainment centers (Hendry). At such places, they could easily attract and retain their customers, which was their primary goal. Yakuza clans get income from gambling rooms (Schrader 6) In Japan, gambling is prohibited; therefore, the gambling joints were frequently raided by the police. But this did not stop the gambling culture of the Yakuza as they were professional gamblers who would not cheat. Therefore, honesty would retain their customers. Besides, alliance with the police meant little disturbance. Apart from carrying out betting activities in Sumo Wrestling, and horse races, the group also included pachinko parlors in their dealings which have been profitable since pachinko is legal in Japan. In the 2000s, the gambling halls had been turned into brothels and points for exchanging drugs (Treverton and Gregory 112). In the Yakuza films of 2000s, the same phenomena is evident.
Piracy is another feature that defines Yakuza group. Piracy by Yakuza involves production of pornography videos either by unauthorized copying of existing content or by acting new ones. Treverton and Gregory reports that during the 2000s peiod, an illegal pornographic film cost three times more than a pirated one (116). Treverton and Gregory further reports that Rakudaine Yamaguchi –gumi, a Yakuza group in the 2000s conducted underground pornography activities as a basic source of revenue to supplement other sources such as women trafficking (116). The situation in society is transformed and acted in Films of the 2000s such as Tokyo Decadence. In the film, Ai, a submissive prostitute is involved in pornography filming with Yakuza crew, as instructed by the gang leader. The northern side of Nihonbashi in Osaka is a thriving ground for electronic shops that discreetly sell pornographic films for Yakuza groups, while the southern part of the town is largely occupied by hotels and bars that are used for prostitution (Treverton and Gregory 117). The presentation of pornography for sale in the film is a true manifestation of the illegal pornography business and porn movie production activities in Japanese brothels and hotels in the 2000s.
Prostitution is another feature that is identified by the Yakuza group. The group has largely invested in the business due to the profitability of the industry (Hendry). As a result of Yakuza investment in prostitution, it has led them to take part in human trafficking and pornography. Regarding the aspect of human trafficking, the group lures the foreign young women from abroad to Japan and they are forced to work in the sex industry. Also, the Yakuza engage in pornography where they produce and sell pornographic material that even sometimes includes underage girls. In movies of 2000s, the yakuza crew are used to safely transport prostitutes from one territory to another.
Violence also known as sokaiya in the Japanese culture, it is the act of disrupting the shareholders meeting using different means such as aggression or any other forms of disruption. In other cases, the shareholder members are forced to pay the Yakuza groups to stop them from disrupting their meetings. To access the meeting, the Yakuza buy shares in the companies of the interest and they end up threatening to disrupt the meetings if they are not paid or even reveal the secrets of corporations. Due to the fear of unsightly revelations, most of the demands of the Yakuza are met by the corporations’ members (Varese 117). Extortion has proven to serve best in earning big and easy money by the Yakuza. This is because the corporations that are humiliated are unlikely to report the incidences to the authorities due to the fear of Yakuza revealing their secrets. In Dead or alive 2, Mizuka Okamoto and Shuichi Sawada are violent assassins who are hired by Yakuza group to kill a gang leader from China. Their violence and ruthlessness is portrayed when Sawada manages to assassinate the gang leader under Okamoto’s watch, who is also ready to make the kill. In the documentary marked death of the Yakuza, Akihicho Ekenuchi, a Yakuza leader confesses to have been involved in unnecessary violent collection of taxes.
Another culture that is associated with the Yakuza is drug dealing. The group mainly deals with amphetamines. After the Second World War, these stimulant drugs were legal and common as they were used by both the soldiers and civilians. Since then until the early 2000s, the Yakuza has dominated the drug industry in Japan as they have the manpower and resources that boost their ability to handle the illegal business. Most of the Yakuza involve in the drug dealings to earn them a living as it is a very lucrative industry but other members are only consum
Yakuza Culture in the Japanese Films in the 2000s
English & Literature
The American dream is an ideology that anyone can be successful in America as long as they work hard, become wealthy and gain status quo. F. Scott Fitzgerald, in The Great Gatsby, portrays the destruction of what many believe is the American dream through the loss of morality and humility in pursuit of wealth. The American dream, which stands until today, is based on high moral standards that attract love and happiness. Many people across the world view this "dream" as factual and believe that America maintains such standards. In contrast, Fitzgerald’s novel portrays a perspective that shows the suffering undergone by those who have pursued and achieved the American dream in unethical means. The focus of this paper is on the nature of the American dream as depicted by Fitzgerald. Therefore, the withering of the American dream is the main point of focus of this paper.
Fitzgerald presents Jay Gatsby as a fighter, one who is ready to do anything to achieve what he desires; the American dream. In the novel, Gatsby, born and raised in a low-income family, believes that Daisy’s love, wealth and status quo is all he needs to be happy in life. Gatsby engages in corrupt deals, gains opulence and changes his name. He does this with a view that the new name will match with the status quo that wealth has offered him. Gatsby pursues Daisy despite her being in another relationship. In the novel, Gatsby buys a luxurious mansion to lure Daisy into loving him. ‘Gatsby bought that house so that Daisy would be just across the bay (p. 151). Additionally, he throws parties every week with a hope that Daisy may attend and have an opportunity to talk to her. He even goes to greater lengths and uses Nick to get an audience with Daisy. Gatsby is therefore presented as a conniving optimist who believes that Daisy will fall for in love with him if she learns of his new status quo.
Gatsby’s American dream goes wrong when he leaves Daisy at the university to go and pursue wealth. He puts all his mind in search of wealth and gets drowned in the muse. He forgets that family and love is essential. Later on, Gatsby comes back with wealth only to find Daisy married. Gatsby is desperate for love. "Your wife doesn't love you," said Gatsby. ‘She's never loved you. She loves me’ (p.238). The changing nature of American society, as presented by Fitzgerald presents a situation where wealth is judged based on a historical basis. Daisy cannot fall in love with Gatsby because he was poor in the past, and not even the newly acquired status quo can change the situation. Therefore, the changing times cause Gatsby to die unloved.
Fitzgerald uses symbolism and illusion in many instances within the novel to show that those in pursuit of the American dream cannot be fully satisfied. According to him, the American dream entails searching for something far more significant than what we have and what we can achieve. In the novel, Gatsby is stretching his arms afore towards the glowing green light placed at the far end of Daisy’s clock but fails to reach out to it. ‘He stretched out his arms toward the dark water in a curious way, and far as I was from him I could have sworn he was trembling. Involuntarily I glanced seaward—and distinguished nothing except a single green light, minute and far away, that might have been the end of a dock (P. 152). Fitzgerald alludes to this situation on how the wealth Gatsby has accumulated fails to pursue Daisy to love him. Consequently, ‘the valley of the ashes’ as presented in the novel shows that those who pursue the American dream of being wealthy suffer ugly consequences. In the novel, Gatsby’s burial is attended by few people despite being wealthy.
Conclusively, Fitzgerald presents a situation that was evident during the 1920s when most people believed that wealth is the ultimate goal of happiness. He uses various stylistic devices to convey his observation on the corruption of the American dream. In my opinion, I believe and support the views of Fitzgerald that eager for wealth and status quo have been instrumental in changing and deteriorating the true nature of the American dream.
The Great Gatsby: The Corrupted American Dream
English & Literature
Hamlet asks the player to perform the scene he chooses in particular. This is because it inspires him and it is similar to his themes.
After the arrival of the players, Hamlet asks them to redo the scene that he saw them act before in the play. This play inspires Hamlet since Priam’s slaughter story matches similar themes that he himself is dealing with. Hamlet recalls another play, ‘’The Murder of Gonzago’’ and informs the players about his idea of changing multiple lines of the play and have them enact it on a preceding night. The audience might be puzzled at first but in the following dramatic monologue he discloses that this play is his hope to ‘’catch the conscience of the king.’’ Hamlet aim of this play is to reenact the murder of King Hamlet by Claudius. He hopes that Claudius reveals his guilt after seeing the play for Hamlet to know that the ghost was a true ghost who told the truth and not a devil who tried to backbite Claudius. Hamlet acts slowly because he intends to justify his revenge against Claudius. Act 3 ‘’play within the play’’ proves the plan to be successful since Claudius leaves the room in a hurry and upset.
The story of Priam and Hecuba pertains to Hamlet's situation because he wonders if Priam's wife, Hecuba witnessed and aided the murder.
Hamlet compares Pyrrhus to his uncle Claudius. He is curious to know if Gertrude stood by and watched king Hamlet murdered by Claudius or perhaps she aided the murder. The idea fades away when the Old Hamlets ghost confirms that the murder was not her sin. Hamlets comparison is clear however it is ironic in the fact that it foreshadows the murder of Pyrrhus’s son by Priam. The end of the story reveals that Claudius poisons Hamlet through conniving treachery. It is also clear that Hamlet draws a line between Pyrrhus murder by Priam and his father’s murder by Claudius who then ‘’steals his throne and wife.’’
English & Literature
Shakespeare wrote several literary works that enumerated his perceptions on different issues. In Hamlet, he sought to express his views on the human condition. His assertions in the Hamlet depicts complexities that surround the concept of the human condition. Before undertaking the task of highlighting the complexities, it is vital to understand Shakespeare’s idea of the human condition. Shakespeare envisions the human condition as a struggle in dealing with the state of being human. Shakespeare believes that the expression of the human condition is in the way humans seek meaning, deal with loneliness, limitations of freedom, and the reality of mortality (Bloom, 2008). The way humans deal with these issues is what Shakespeare terms as the complexity of the human condition. Each person deals with these issues in a different way.
In Hamlet, Shakespeare uses both tone and theme in the character of Hamlet to develop the complexity of the human condition. Hamlet is a Prince of Denmark, and he just lost his father. He believes that his uncle killed his father, and he seeks revenge on his father’s behalf (Shakespeare, 2014). Apart from killing his father, his uncle has also wedded his mother, an action that he sees as disrespectful. There are responsibilities of the kingdom that Hamlet must attend to, and this is even though he sees the leader of the kingdom, his uncle, as an impediment to peace in Denmark (Shakespeare, 2014). Shakespeare uses the theme of revenge to underline the complexity of the human condition in the character of Prince Hamlet, where he seeks revenge on one side but also desires that the kingdom remains peaceful.
The element of mortality is an element that Shakespeare uses to depict the complexity of the human condition. In Act 1 Scene 5, the ghost of Hamlet's father visits him and urges him to revenge his unnatural death. Claudius, the person accused by the ghost of having committed this heinous crime, is Hamlet’s uncle (Bloom, 2008). He is the new King. However, Hamlet must commit to taking revenge on his father’s unnatural death as told to him by a ghost. The complexity of human condition reveals itself through the aspect of mortality and the afterlife. Hamlet, even though living, does not only have to adjust his life to the behavior of other living people, but also must consider the wishes of a dead person whose ghost demands revenge.
Laertes, Polonius son, is equally filled with rage upon notification by Claudius that Hamlet killed his father. Claudius hatches Laertes revenge on Hamlet and poisons the sword that he shall use when he fences against Hamlet who is returning to Denmark after his shipwrecked in the sea. In the fencing match, Laertes accidentally cuts himself with the poisonous sword, and subsequently manages to cut Hamlet as well (Shakespeare, 2014). In the sequence of the fencing match, Laertes reveals to Hamlet that Claudius is responsible for the queen’s death, and Hamlet strikes Claudius with the poisoned sword. All three characters die from the deadly sword. Two of the characters sought revenge for the killing of their fathers, and one character was trying to remain alive by killing the person seeking revenge on him. The end of their lives signals the complexity of the human condition and the struggles that humans go through.
In conclusion, Shakespeare expresses his ideas about the complexity of the human condition in his literary piece, Hamlet. He uses both tone and theme in developing the character of Hamlet to show the struggles that Hamlet goes through, both in his quest for revenge and in his desire to improve the situation of his kingdom. Further examples of the complexity of the human condition are in the existence of a ghost that requires of Hamlet to take revenge and the end of the story where all the characters engaged in the quest of revenge die. Through this sequence, Shakespeare manages to portray the complexities of the human condition in Hamlet successfully.
The Complexity of the Human Condition in Hamlet
English & Literature
According to me, becoming an observer means that one is not in control of where his or her life is leading to. By making a decision and follow through, one is able to choose the course of their lives only if they have let the doer to take the course. Observers sit aimlessly since they do not initiate action. I would rather be a doer but not an observer.
Being a doer involves decision making. This is the most challenging step in the process of finding a solution to a problem. Making a decision involves scanning for the problem (Logan, p.16). One should understand why they think there is a problem. One must know where the problem is happening, how it is happening, when it is occurring, with who it is happening, what has caused the problem and look for various methods to solve it. Furthermore, one should recognize how other people feel about the problem. This gives the doer a hint to whether the problem requires an agent solution or methods to apply to solve it. After thinking of better ways to solve the complication, one should brainstorm the results. Another step is reflecting on experience. According to Logan (p.16), this involves data analysis and developing theories for the possible solutions that one can offer.
Developing a solution to the problem is an important stage in decision making. Determination of measures for assessing solution is key. This is followed by analysis for the solutions and making a decision on the best answer. After the analysis stage, decide on the best solution. This stage requires a lot of carefulness and soberness as when one does not critically think they may end up providing a wrong way out. Setting goals for implementing the results is necessary. Without cautious application of these objectives, all the above processes will be futile.
Logan further state that the final stage in decision making is implementing the solution. For its enhancement, commitment is essential. Generally, without commitment, an everlasting solution for a challenge cannot be obtained. To achieve this, one requires to exhibit leadership qualities. This is essential since its skills enable one to be tolerant and disciplined. Taking action is necessary. Once the solutions are obtained, without performing on them, the problem shall still exist. Ensure that the problem is completely done away with. This is very important in an organization, society, and for an individual as they are able to achieve their goals. Most of the times I follow all these processes in providing a solution to different problems and this has enhanced my success and those of others.
In summary, I prefer being a doer but not an observer. To achieve this, I have always aimed at decision making as a tool in ensuring that my actions end in achieving set objectives rather than just seeing people act. Decision making involves scanning the problem, establishing people's feelings, coming up with better ways to handle the situation and putting the solutions into play. Secondly, a reflection on the experience whereby data analysis is applied in defining the problem consequently, theories may be developed in to solve the challenge. In this regard, the development of the solution entails analysis for the solution, determining the best outcome, and setting goals for implementation. Lastly, solution implementation would involve making a commitment to the course, exhibiting leadership skills, taking the necessary actions and ensuring that the whole process is complete.
Observer versus Doer
English & Literature
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