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“Kokoro” a Novel Written by Soseki Essay

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Updated: May 7th, 2019


Kokoro, a novel written by Soseki has a large audience. The novel is based on Japan’s modernization and transition from Mejji era. Soseki uses many themes in a comparative way, to highlight incidences of contradiction. The essay will focus on contradictions in the novel. Further, contradictions in the novel will be compared with those that people can observe in modern life.


The first incidence of contradiction is between Sensei and narrator’s father. Despite the fact that the two men are old, there are differences in their feelings. Narrator’s father is contented with what he has achieved. The man enjoys graduation of his son from college. Narrator’s father does not want to be separated from his son. Despite the fact that narrator’s father is sick, he is proud of his achievements. Sensei on the other hand, has a low self esteem.

He is in denial and distances himself from the society. For instance, Sensei warns the narrator about possible disappointment if he remains close to him. Sensei is in good health but unhappy with his life. The contradiction is further intensified by the fact that the narrator prefers being with Sensei, who has no interest in humanity. Despite the fact that the narrator nurses his dying father, he yearns to be with Sensei.

The contradiction between Sensei and narrator’s father is typical to modern life. There are adults who feel contented while others are in denial. Contentment versus denial shows the great contradiction between people of the same age, in a given society. The narrator admires Sensei who has little regard for himself.

He fails to regard his dying father, who appears to be satisfied with life. The scenario is applicable to modern society, where children fail to acknowledge efforts of their parents. Behavior presented by the author is common among young people, who fail to choose mentors or role models who can be helpful.

The novel shows great contradictions between old and young people in the society. Despite the fact that the narrator admires Sensei, Sensei feels that it is a wrong move that is likely to bring about disappointment in future. There is also contradiction in the way that narrator and his father feel in regard to graduation. While father is happy for graduation of his son, the narrator feels that his graduation is not a big deal.

In this regard, there is a striking difference in perception of things between adults and young people. There is a difference between traditional and modern approach in the society. The contradiction between traditions and fashion transition can be blamed for suicide plan by Sensei. Sensei was torn between values acquired in Confucian system and changing values that Japan was adopting in the process of westernization.

The novel highlights reactions that emerge in cases of contradictions. Soseki manifests consequences of contradictions that can be applied to even modern society. Sensei is a lonely fellow who distances himself from society, due to contradictions between his life and environment.

At one stage, Sensei chooses to isolate himself from the world that always seems to contradict him. He leaves his country and settles with a widow as a way of avoiding contradictions. Sensei’s uncle swindles Sensei instead of acting as a guardian. The incidence can be compared with modern instances when guardians or close relatives dupe off children left under their care. The act of fraud committed by Sensei shows the level of crime in the modern society.

After Sensei settles with the widow, he falls in love with her daughter. Soseki highlights another form of contradiction, when Sensei’s friend falls in love with the widow’s daughter as well. There is a contradiction in feelings between two friends. After Sensei learns that K is also in love with daughter of the widow, he proposes to her.

It should be noted that Sensei’s friend had also chosen to contradict Sensei, since he admitted that he loved widow’s daughter. The contradiction between Sensei and K leads to death. K commits suicide after learning that widow’s daughter has married Sensei.

The letter addressed to the narrator highlightes penitence by Sensei, since he felt responsible for the death of his friend. Soseki however brings out contradiction in comprehension of Sensei’s suicide. He brings about loyalty to traditional values of Japan. Contradiction between friends is common in the modern society. There are many cases in which people commit suicide due to love issues. It should also be noted that feeling guilty is the aftermath of contradiction even in the modern society.


Soseki highlights instances of contradictions in the three parts of Kokoro. Narrator’s father was sick and expected to be unhappy, but despite this he was happy. Sensei, on the other hand, was healthy and admired by the narrator, but had low self esteem. Sensei’s uncle who was expected to take care of Sensei ended up swindling him. Despite the fact that the book was published in 1914, there are similar contradictions with modern society that are highlighted by Soseki.

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""Kokoro" a Novel Written by Soseki." IvyPanda, 7 May 2019, ivypanda.com/essays/kokoro/.

1. IvyPanda. ""Kokoro" a Novel Written by Soseki." May 7, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/kokoro/.


IvyPanda. ""Kokoro" a Novel Written by Soseki." May 7, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/kokoro/.


IvyPanda. 2019. ""Kokoro" a Novel Written by Soseki." May 7, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/kokoro/.


IvyPanda. (2019) '"Kokoro" a Novel Written by Soseki'. 7 May.

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