Musui's story

Essay by scofowCollege, UndergraduateA+, September 2004

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Before a coherent analysis of Musui's Story can be presented it is essential that the role of the samurai in Japanese society is understood. It is also imperative to understand that the samurai, as a class of warriors, emerged from a Japan that was in a state of constant civil war. Their sole purpose was to Afind a way to die, . . . to make a conscious effort to think of death and resolve to pursue it, and if [they were] ready to discard life at a moment=s notice, [they] and the bushido (the way of the samurai) [would] become one. In this way throughout [their] life, [they could] perform [their] duties for [their] masters without fail.@ Hence, they were fiercely loyal to their immediate commanders who were in theory completely loyal to the Emperor. If they failed their master in any way they could only regain face and secure an afterlife through a gruesome-ritual-suicide known as seppuku, and this could only occur upon avenging those who had wronged their master.

When they were not engaged in combat they enforced order in society which could entail swift and sometimes fatal punishment of any peasant, artisan, or merchant whose only crime may have been an improper display of respect for a samurai. All the while they were to live frugal lives. They despised money and the people who handled it. Their way was a way of the heart and spirit, and not of the intellect or of material things. This bushido code worked well while Japan was constantly at war, but in 1603 Tokugawa Ieyasu was named shogun and peace reigned for two hundred and fifty years thereafter. During the Tokugawa Shogunate the samurai=s role changed dramatically for many reasons, but essentially he became a warrior without a war. The...