The Narrow Road to the Deep North

Essay by randy555College, UndergraduateA, September 2008

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"The Narrow Road to the Deep North" is one of the most magnificent works in classical Japanese literature. Basho was on the road for over a hundred and fifty days, almost entirely on foot. Even today Basho is revered in Japan for having the courage to abandon the material comforts of the temporal life in favor of the spiritual rewards of a life unfettered by possessions.

I respect people like Basho who was full of common sense. He has a character that was pure and penetrated by splendid emptiness. He also seems to have somewhat of a mid life crisis. In his work “the narrow road to the deep north.” The characteristic of individualism has played a strong role in the live of Basho. Basho displays similar acts of individualism in his story as he departs not only from his home but also from the traditions that have helped shape his life for many years.

Basho’s character leaves behind the familial and societal values that were vastly presented in Japanese tradition. With Basho’s decision to be individuals, he obtains new attitudes and standards that relate to money, education and security. His individualism reveals in his long trip when he acted as there is nobody around except him and the quite nature. “The narrow road to the deep north” was written based on nature and unappreciated creatures, like the flea and the frog. He appreciates nature so much that he writes what he sees and notices in everyday life.

Basho’s description of nature also reflects emptiness and loneliness in his inner spirit. He starts to question the purpose of his existence when he sets off on his trip to the north. Somehow he was waiting for enlightment. He wrote: “I myself fell prey to wanderlust some years ago, desiring nothing better...