I'm writing an analysis paper for this short story by Akutagawa-sensei.

Now I've read this back in high school and I understood that the characters of the samurai, his wife and the bandit each portray the different codes of honor in Japanese society. So our prof asked us to list the testimonies by all the characters in the story and pretend that we're in the position of a judge and we have to write our own verdict. Before I share my verdict, I'd just like to say that I find it weird that we have to do it in the first place since this story, from what I understand, is not meant to have the appropriate moral ending; it's supposed to be an empty gray area. The reader can't say for sure who the murderer is because it's not about who, it's more about why they all think they committed the murder and how they're supposed to have committed the murder. Akutagawa-sensei's story, to my interpretation, is not a mystery that needs to be solved. In fact, there's no mystery at all! The three characters admitted to the crime because in their hearts they believed that they have indeed killed...and that's what it's all about: whatever virtue or principle behind their confessions is the crucial element to their stories. It is not a matter of truth or the authenticity of the circumstances surrounding this crime. It is only now a matter of perception; since the truth is left for one's convenience and the purpose it served to each suspect. You can believe the story of the bandit Tajomaru, who claimed that he had killed the samurai during a duel. But the court has taken to account this testimony of his that would have been the motivation for his embellishment: 'You kill people with your power, with your money. Sometimes you kill them on the pretext of working for their good. It's true they don't bleed. They are in the best of health, but all the same you've killed them. It's hard to say who is a greater sinner, you or me'. The bandit had shown ethics, though deluded at that, and hence justifying, in his story, that he had given the samurai a chance to fight before his death. We also included the fact that he repeated three times during the course of his testimony that he had no intention to kill the man. He might have confessed to the crime because he wanted to receive recognition for his 'humane' action even if he had to be prosecuted for it. You can believe the story of the woman. She claimed to have killed her husband because she saw the 'look of loathing' in his eyes. One had to question as to why she didn't even bother removing the leaves shoved in her husband's mouth and simply asserted that he agreed with her proposition to kill them both. It might be possible that what the woman saw in her husband's eyes is indeed 'loathing' but perhaps only a reflection of what she felt for herself now that she had been soiled by another man. It was also suspicious that, according to her, she fell unconscious twice during the events, leading this court to believe that her embellishment was motivated by her inability to form a rational decision, given that she had been raped and suffered trauma that was emotionally incapacitating. She might have believed she killed her husband because she could not kill herself and will forever live with the shame that she had betrayed the man she esteemed highly. Did she truly believe that her rape was her own

fault? The court still finds her testimony open for dispute. The court does not wish to take into account the dead man's testimony but since it provides another intriguing perspective of the crime, then we shall take it into consideration. The samurai confirmed that his wife had indeed betrayed him when she was said to have followed the bandit to become his wife. The samurai stressed that she wanted him dead and that the bandit refused and so he had forgiven the man for the rape of his wife, as it may seem. But then the woman had run off and the bandit failed to catch her. So he releases the samurai and took his possessions with him. You can believe the story of the dead man; that he was overcome by sorrow and had taken his own life. It was an honorable gesture that the court finds deceptive and contrived; most especially when 'someone' pulls the knife out of his chest, indicating that there was a fourth party involved but the existence of this person cannot be proved otherwise. The court was left to conclude that it might be just a metaphorical representation of the burden of his despair being uplifted from him when the knife was drawn out of his heart. The court does not believe the crime committed by the three suspects with each of their own admittance is to be punished by our law. We further believe that the punishment had already been given when they have all embellished the truth to suit their situations. In finality, the court leaves the verdict to the common man and whatever shred of convictions he has as an individual; and whether there was indeed a crime committed that needs to be judged. The Story Seven characters speak to a magistrate about their knowledge of a man found stabbed in the chest in the woods near Kyoto after a woodcutter discovers a dead samurai soldier in a secluded grove. The woodcutter reports to the magistrate the details of the scene of the crime and the condition of the body, recounting that the welldressed victim was stabbed in the chest, but that there was no sword nearby. A priest saw the soldier with a woman and a horse the day before. The man had a bow and a lacquered quiver holding more than twenty arrows. An officer has arrested a notorious thief named Tajomaru and has no doubt that this criminal committed the murder. Tajomaru's weakness for women and his violent activities are well known, explains the officer; the fact that the lacquered bow and arrows found in Tajomaru's possession belonged to the dead man further convince the officer that he has arrested the right man. The quiver, however, contains only seventeen arrows. The thief also has a horse that matches the description given by the priest. An old woman approaches the magistrate and asks the court to find her missing daughter. She defensively acknowledges her daughter was spirited, but she insists that the young woman was devoted to her husband, twenty-six-year-old Takehiro. Tajomaru confesses that he has murdered the samurai because he wanted the man's wife: When he saw the couple, he decided he must have the woman. He lured Takehiro into the dense grove by appealing to his greed, promising to sell him some valuable swords and mirrors at a

Even the amoral Tajomaru grew pale at the woman's cruel suggestion. Tajomaru appropriated the horse and other items and rode off. is concerned about the safety and whereabouts of her daughter and feels the need to defend her daughter's reputation. but also the accusations regarding her relationship with Tajomaru to deny. her greatest guilt comes from her ravishment by Tajomaru and her inability to carry through with her suicide plans. presents the point of view of the character most dramatically affected by the events described. but she ran off and Tajomaru chased after her. emotionally as well as physically involved in the event. as he has no reason to lie. This latter certainty. Tajomaru finally succeeded in killing the soldier. Tajomaru asked Takehiro if he should kill the woman. The priest's description of the horse implicates Tajomaru. he insists that this time he fell in love with the woman. both in his criminal exploits and in his fearless acceptance of his fate. The thief speaks from another culture. a number that demonstrates the samurai's incomparable strength.” along with Akutagawa's story “Rashōmon. The spirit of the victim. even after death. is merely a witness and reports factual details and makes no judgments or inferences. Themes and Meanings Rather than focusing merely on discovering the identity of the murderer. Ryūnosuke Akutagawa forces the reader to examine issues involving motive and characterization. nor does he betray any fear or regret at having been arrested.” was the basis for the film Rashomon (1950) by Japanese director Akira Kurosawa. the principal characters involved. characters are lying. He blatantly flaunts his lawlessness. Takehiro's claim of suicide raises questions about the absence of the weapon. He attacked the samurai from behind and tied him to a tree. We see the present situation unfold through the internal dialogue of Alida Slade and Grace Ansley. nevertheless is alive. During the fight. disloyal wife. then went back outside the grove where the woman waited on the horse. and the tension that . He has a vested interest in claiming the capture of this nefarious villain to boost his own professional reputation. she did not have the courage to kill herself. she pulled out a dagger and fought Tajomaru. “In a Grove. The concluding narrative. Style and Technique The story is divided into seven sections. but he overcame her without difficulty. bejeweled dagger from him. not from having killed her husband. Takehiro asserts. The priest. for example. but to her greater shame. he could feel someone pull the valuable. Takehiro says that his wife chose to go with the thief but insisted that Tajomaru kill her husband before they left. each presenting a first-person point of view of one of the seven characters. and she suggested that the two men fight to the death and vowed that she would go with the winner. speaking through a medium. Tajomaru left immediately afterward. given the values of their respective cultures. Her husband agreed that she must kill him and then kill herself. and seeing her husband tied up. yet he recalls someone pulling the sword from his chest as he is dying. The last three narrators. The thief is involved in the crime. The story's initial question—who committed the murder?—soon yields to the more provocative question of why anyone would confess to a murder he or she did not commit. For example. The husband. who has seen the couple. To preserve his honor. that of the victim himself. Tajomaru boasts that he is courageous. whose suicide would be more honorable than being murdered by a thief or a dishonored. was done in accordance with the Japanese code of honor. particularly The Ring and the Book (1868-1869). maintains that he killed himself. he did not plan to kill the husband because it was not necessary. The first four narrators are not directly involved in the crime. he argues. and Takehiro's suicide would be the ultimate act of courage. The wife. Although he has ravished women without compunction on other occasions. As he gasped his last breaths. She was a spirited fighter. Takehiro thrust the dagger into his own chest. All three characters cite courage as an honored virtue. The mother. Although murder is not difficult for him. The woodcutter. should give his account credibility. brags about his past crimes. which is to be hanged. as in most mysteries. Nor does the story simply address the issue of varying points of view of the same event. and the seven narrators are arranged in order of increasing involvement.bargain. wants to defend his reputation. Akutagawa uses overlapping details in the seven accounts to give some credibility to each of the three confessions. Tajomaru agrees. are presented similarly in order of increasing subjectivity. that of outlaws. The wife professes to value her honor above her life. which include other murders. The arresting officer seems intent on proving that he has arrested the right man and jumps fallaciously to the conclusion that the thief's possession of the victim's bow and arrows is proof of his guilt. After twenty-three runs with the sword. That act. She has not only the murder to answer for. The wife insisted that she could not bear for her husband to know of her shame and suggested that they both die. She claims that she was ravished by Tajomaru while her bound husband watched her contemptuously. Critics have noted that this story reveals the influence of Victorian poet Robert Browning's dramatic monologues. A young woman appears at a temple and identifies herself as the wife of the victim. At least two. after all. He claims that she then cried that she could not bear for two men to know of her shame. which similarly presents twelve different accounts of a murder. leaving her horse behind. although he will surely be hanged. The wife is ashamed that she did not have the courage to kill herself. She stabbed her husband. the last of the indirectly involved characters. the woman disappeared. does not know them personally but comments on the brevity of life and expresses pity for the victim. yet he feels no remorse for the acts he has confessed to or for his other past criminal deeds. and even proclaims that his life is more honest than that of the establishment. Each presents the story in a way that makes him or her look better. These characters are not honestly reporting their distorted perceptions of what transpired. Analysis of Plot in Roman Fever By Philip Devitt Edith Wharton’s Roman Fever develops plot in an interesting way. He led her into the grove by telling her Takehiro had been taken ill. and possibly all three. which hypocritically exploits people and ruins lives through the abuse of power and wealth.

while Grace has learned to accept her new life. would fall in love and lead an exciting life. of all places. was sure to take away from Grace’s happiness. we don’t know what exactly she is sorry for. it seems a strange coincidence the two women would meet at the same place and time. Alida thought. Alida despises Grace's contentment with life as she quietly knits. This moment builds in the present plot. they realize how little they know about each other. But their history in Rome makes it conceivable. but it opens up the possibility. but to Alida. but what effects it will have on Alida now that she knows the truth. showing the years of insecurity." The first part of the story then concludes in a significant way. Alida makes her revelation thinking it will devastate Grace and shake her life to the core. but it is propelled by the events of the past. the setting propels the plot to pick up pace. their meeting would be a bit more random and hard to believe. There isn’t one thing in the story that doesn’t have a purpose. Grace always had something she didn’t. the present plot seems more defined now that we have been introduced to the past. as they sit in silence. At the time. and reminding her she could never have him. when we learn Grace has always felt sorry for Alida. as everything the ladies say to each other and feel about each other. and secrecy that lead to their revelations. The letter she forged from Delphin urging Grace to meet him at the Coliseum was motivated solely by her insecurity about her relationship. The setting is meaningful to them both-. When the second part of the story begins. But Wharton also weaves in the past actions of the two friends. It is obvious she still envies Grace. She wishes that her daughter. and as she reminds her of the story of her great-aunt. but it foreshadows the twist in the plot to come. but similar reasons. Wharton’s inclusion of the past plot interspersed between the events of the present plot is an effective way to make the climax compelling. Long after being widowed. she could make Grace envy her. when in fact he never wrote it. But Grace’s revelation that Delphin responded delivers a blow to Alida instead. she builds up the confidence to suggest Barbara resulted from her fling with Delphin. Alida and Grace spend the entire story sitting on a restaurant terrace overlooking the hills of a Roman village. but she knows that Barbara will be the one who marries a wealthy man. Alida still clings to the prominence she had when her husband was alive. The views of the Palatine and the Coliseums intensify Alida’s jealousy and rage. The tension continues to build between Alida and Grace. each reflecting on their view of the other. She called Grace and Horace irreproachable and entertained herself with the thought of them being raided. At this point in the plot. but there is a building tension between them. Eventually. suspense is at its highest.a place filled with memories and simpler times. If the setting had been somewhere such as a circus or the middle of the desert.mounts between them. jealousy. It has been years since they have seen each other. They both come from the same social class and had successful husbands. To think for many years that the letter was from him. We soon see that this tension has always existed between the supposedly intimate friends. the tension between them reaches its breaking point. Alida has always been envious of Grace. Jenny. and the unbearable tension leads her to confess. Even in her youth. As Alida becomes dumbfounded by Grace’s response. She says she "must make one more effort not to hate her. Alida says she can’t bear it any longer and confesses the truth to Grace. When they discuss their daughters’ lives and the romanticism of moonlight. subtle at first. But the surprise ending revealed by Grace in the last line leaves us with an indeterminate ending. Grace becomes the more dominant and assertive of the two. she could feel superior to her. Grace does not clearly state that Barbara is her daughter with Delphin. For once. After many years apart. . If anything. She doesn’t like that Grace’s daughter Barbara is more assertive when it comes to men. but we see that she pities her and feels her life was "full of failures and mistakes. For many years. and Alida becomes increasingly uncomfortable. tie in with the events of the past. We are left wondering for several minutes what "effort" Alida will make not to hate Grace. This irresolution leaves us wondering not only how far their relationship really went. knowing Delphin was the one thing Grace could never have was what kept Alida from completely hating her. But the improbability of this meeting does not hinder the plot. Alida finds herself envious of Grace for new." By revealing to her that Delphin never wrote the letter. Grace’s reflection on Alida is much less detailed. and she is in conflict with herself over whether she should tell her she wrote the letter. so it isn’t surprising they would meet there. Alida was jealous of Grace.

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