The Alchemist Essay, Research Paper
IB Essay: Kokoro by Natsume Soseki
“What we are.” — A phrase that causes a number of thoughts to cross my mind. What makes us who we are? From the light of events of Kokoro by Natsume Soseki, I did some research to find an answer to this question. One aspect of all human behaviors is egotism. In Kokoro, events take place primarily around the relationship of Sensei and “I”. Sensei and “I” are both attracted to each other for they share some common characteristics. We, in human nature, all do things that will improve our lives, even if that means becoming egotistical. Sensei and “I” both fall into this black hole of egotism from which they will never return. They are egotistical just like us. Although they both graduated from the prestigious University of Tokyo, they are not satisfied with their sophistication. They attempt desperately to convince others that they are the righteous. When they encounter a belief that they do not accept or understand, they become paranoid for they fear that they are wrong. In Sensei’s case, he becomes very insecure when K contradicts Sensei’s explanation of his denial about love to an opposite sex. He fears that K is more sophisticated than him. This causes him to believe that he will not be able convince K that his feeling to Ojosan go against his own belief about manhood. “I” on the other hand struggles, for he cannot fully understand why Sensei acts in the way he does until he receives Sensei’s testament.
Sensei in his college years, was very machismo. He did not believe in love until he met Ojosan. Therefore, Sensei was very sensitive in Ojosan’s attitude towards anybody. When he found out that K shared the same feelings to Ojosan as Sensei did, he became very worried, for he was not confident that he would make much of a rival to him. He attempted to take K out of the game; the game to get Ojosan first. He utilized the argument that K is wrong to feel love for her because he had denied the idea of love in the past saying, “People with no spiritual aspiration is stupid.” Sensei felt defeated by K’s explanation to why he contradicted his past idea about Love, for K did not give into Sensei. Sensei then became very paranoid and did everything that he possibly could to win Ojosan from K. As a result, he ended up marrying Ojosan by manipulating her mother Okusan. But as Sensei mentioned himself, “I was wrong?c I was wrong?c,” he realized and admited that he was responsible for K’s suicide. He then spent the rest of his life accompanying his wife in order to keep the truth away from her. He felt that her understanding of Sensei should be kept as unsullied as possible even after Sensei’s death. After he confessed everything to “I” in the form of a testament, he killed himself. Now satisfied, he did not feel alone anymore. Now there was someone who knew the truth about his life.
“I” did not understand why Sensei acted the way he did, for he did not know the truth about the events that had taken place in Sensei’s life. He had questioned Sensei a number of times, trying to convince him that he was wrong. He, too, had a similar struggle as Sensei did in his college years; a struggle with the inability to convince others with his rationalization. One of the questions that “I” had was about Sensei’s quarrel with his wife. Since “I” was inexperienced with relationships with women, he couldn’t accept the fact that they were not getting along. He questioned why there are quarrels between them even though they seemed to deeply understand and love each other. When “I” went to Sensei’s house to accompany his wife for protection from burglary, he discussed the matter with her in order to find an answer to his question. He again faced argument, this time with Sensei’s wife. He became frustrated, for she believed that Sensei is not fond of her. “I”, not knowing the events that had taken place in the past, did not give into her argument.
Sensei and “I” are both very similar in terms of how they both try to rationalize and attempt to convince others with their own knowledge. They both struggle when they are faced with arguments that they cannot rationalize. They are very egotistical in the sense that they try to over rule the other’s belief with their arguments. When Sensei realized that his egoism had driven K to his suicide, he fell into a deep regression, which then drove him to commit suicide. It seemed as if “I” was tracking Sensei’s path for they were very alike as people. Although the story ended without going any further, I predict that “I” will end his life the same way Sensei did: committing suicide. This story definitely has a direct relation to the author Natsume Soseki’s life, for he ends his life by killing himself too.
This story’s major theme, egoism, is directly connected to us. We all are egotistical as Sensei and “I” are. Since childhood, we are all trained to rise above another in order to succeed. In school, we are trained everyday on how can we get a better grade than others. This concept does not halt after childhood, but it continues on throughout one’s entire life. When we apply for jobs, we try to make ourselves as impressive as possible. The practice to rise above another feeds our egoism to its maximum strength. We do whatever we feel in order to give good impression to others. I feel strongly against to this idea, for I believe in virtue. I feel that everybody would be happier if we just showed a little more care for each other.