Mr. Reed, Ms. Van Leur
The Opposite Implications of Sacrifice in The Sailor who Fell from Grace with the Sea and Agamemnon
Aeschylus’s Agamemnon and Yukio Mishima’s the Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea (referred to as the Sailor from here on) were written in completely different centuries. Despite the difference in the times the texts were written, both pieces of work convey many similar themes. One of the themes presented in both texts is sacrifice. The theme of sacrifice is present throughout the book but there are specific sacrifices substantial to the plot in both the books. In Agamemnon, the sacrifice of Iphigenia helps the reader understand the connotation associated with the theme of sacrifice, and in the Sailor, the sacrifice of Ryuji is helpful to understand the theme. In Agamemnon, sacrifice is presented with the association of bloodshed and negative repercussions however it is quite the contrary in the Sailor, since Yukio Mishima presents the idea and practice of sacrifice as a glorified act.
Primarily, the readers can note the opposite connotations that attached to sacrifice by examining the placement of the act of sacrifice in the book. In both novels, the theme of sacrifice is constantly present throughout the book however, the climatic sacrifice scene is not placed at the same area in the plot for both the books. In Agamemnon, the most substantial sacrifice is the one of Iphigenia done by Agamemnon. The readers learn about this event early on since it is placed in the beginning. In the beginning of the book, the chorus describes that there has been a “sacrifice unholy” and “the child shall be avenged.” (Aeschylus 151/155) The unholy sacrifice refers to the sacrifice of Iphigenia and avengement indicates the problems that will follow. The placement of the sacrifice in the beginning implies the author’s utilization of sacrifice as the root cause of problems. In fact, it was the sacrifice of Iphigenia is what provoked Clytaemnestra against Agamemnon and therefore caused much of the conflicts in the play. Since the readers are informed about the sacrifices early on, it makes it possible to note the repercussions that follow with it as the book advances. Overall, the sacrifice is the instigator of the problems and hence is placed early in the book. However, in The Sailor, the climatic sacrifice of Ryuji takes place in the very last chapter. The placement of the sacrifice at the end implies that sacrifice is the resolution. According to the chief who lead Ryuji’s sacrifice believed that the sacrifice was essential to returning Ryuji back to glory as he stated, “this is our last chance…to perform the deed essential to filling the emptiness of the world” (Mishima 167). This implies that the gang believed that sacrificing Ryuji was the right thing since the sacrifice was the only wat to put an end to the problem, the problem being Ryuji’s growing distance from glory. Therefore, in complete contrast...