Chikamatsu Monzaemon and William Shakespeare were literary cornerstones of their time.Although separated by a continent of land and nearly a half century in age, they both used their workings to bring their respective time period to life; Monzaemon gave insight to the pre-modern Edo Period of Japan, while Shakespeare provided insight to the pre-modern Elizabethan Period of England.A comparison of works highlights the contrast between East and West, yet surprisingly turns up many similarities in the human condition as well.Comparing two specific works, Monzaemon's Love Suicides at Amijima and Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, illustrates the universal theme of love in a tragic form.Both works address the ideas of fate, contradicting allegiances, and mutuality as they all relate to love.
Monzaemon and Shakespeare both create lovers who are predetermined by fate, or some force, to meet an early death because of their undying love.In Love Suicides, the audience is privileged to know from the beginning that Jihei and Koharu have already exchanged vows to commit suicide.The story does not build anticipation as to whether the characters will commit suicide, but rather when they will make the ultimate sacrifice of love (Gerstle 140).It is befitting that Monzaemon wrote his play for the bunraku theatre, a popular form of puppet theatre, because it symbolized that people are merely controlled puppets in the game of life.More precisely, it represents a predetermined fate, where people have no say in their ultimate end.In a recent film adaptation entitled Double Suicide, director Masahiro Shinoda leaves the puppet masters in plain view for the audience to observe.This blatant, yet unnecessary decision illustrates to the audience that people are controlled by fate, or an almighty force.Shakespeare creates a similar effect in Romeo and Juliet by declaring its tragic nature in the prologue.In reference to Romeo and …

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