Analysis Of Essay, Research Paper
Analysis of Dazai, Osamu. Ningen Shikkaku, No Longer Human (1948).
The narrator “I” tells that he came to have confession notes written by a man named Yozo and his photos, whom he has never met.+ Yozo writes that, since his childhood, people around him, even his parents and brothers, were totally inscrutable to him.+ He never dared to understand them, but escaped communication by acting like a clown, making people laugh.+ Thus he came to fear to show his “true” self hidden under the clown mask.+ He found painting to be the only way he could express himself.+ He entered a high school in Tokyo (a high school of his time is closer to a college) but mainly went to a painting school to stroll about with Horiki, a man indulged in all kinds of pleasure.+ Yozo came to know various kinds of pleasure, especially women.+ He became deeply involved with a waitress, and attempted suicide with her.+ Yozo somehow survived while the woman died.+ Now he came to live as a true “loser,” hiding from society.+ When he came to manage his living by writing manga, he met an innocent girl, who loved him.+ They soon married and led happy life, only until he witnessed his wife being raped by or voluntarily having sex with another man (we can’t know).+ Yozo resorted to drink and morphine, and finally attempted suicide again, survived again.+ Yozo was now going to be taken to an institution which he thought to be a sanatorium but turned out to be a mental institution.+ Yozo writes, “I’ve never been insane in my life, but they told me insane people say so.+ This means that those outside hospital are sane, those inside hospital are insane.+ I am now not simply ‘guilty’ but insane and idiotic.+ I am no longer human.”
It is said that this novel is autobiographical, which means that Yozo’s life reflects Dazai’s own life.+ The original, or earlier version of this novel appeared in the form of a diary in the first-person narrative under the title, HUMAN LOST (English in original).+ In No Longer Human, Dazai employs the third-person narrative, which maintains more distance between Dazai himself and the protagonist.+ Thus, the narrator “I,” who is totally ignorant of Yozo’s tragedy, more or less objectively reports (or rather, simply quotes) Yozo’s confessional notes, whose major effect is that this novel looks more fictional, or at least distant from Dazai, the author.+ When it was published, however, the readers who were mostly insiders of the literary circle back then, probably knew that Yozo is Dazai, inspite of the third-person narrative effects.+ Like other autobiographical novels such as Mishima’s The Confession of a Mask, Yozo’s confession involves the sense of guilt and the hope for the true self throughout the novel.+ In Mishima’s Confession, however, there is the sense that the mask itself may be the “true self,” i.e., the collapse of the myth of the true Self, the unchanging core of identity.+ Dazai does not explore this topic in the novel, although he admits that his childhood was all this matter of the clown mask.+ Dazai’s crisis does not take place at the level of true/false self, but at the more primordial level of human/non-human.+ If the identity crisis can be expressed as the sense of guilt in the form of a confession, as in Mishima’s Confession, then Dazai’s crisis is of the creature who is not even worth confessing guilt or expressing identity crisis.+ In Dazai’s words, he is not simply guilty but insane and nonhuman.+ It seems to me that the protagonist is not even worth representing himself in words, and thus needs the innocent third person narrator who kindly represents the nonhuman creature for Yozo and Dazai.