The Sound of Waves

Gender Roles in The Sound of Waves 12th Grade

In Yukio Mishima’s classic twentieth century novel, The Sound of Waves, one might initially hold some misconceptions towards the message of the story. It’s simple enough easily spot certain seemingly-sexist elements and immediately make the judgement that Mishima was a misogynist and plotted to display this in his writing. With the constant objectification of women, females’ inferior domestic roles, and the patriarchal dominance in the novel, it is not difficult to make this judgement. After examining certain literary elements of the text, however, it is clear to see that the idea of sexism is not what the novel aims to highlight. Through the use of imagery, syntax, and characterization, Mishima communicates a sincere tone that lets the reader know the novel is not a stab at the female gender; he simply attempts to convey the idea that growing up is a turbulent process for all, as seen through his characters Shinji and Hatsue.

The first literary element, and possibly the most simple for the reader to see, is the use of visual imagery. In The Sound of Waves, mentions of nature are common and symbolic. The story starts out with a picture of serenity. Mishima writes of the “surpassingly beautiful views” from the cliffs of Uta-Jima...

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