Download PDF Print Page Citation Share Link

Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 289

The Love Suicides at Sonezaki by Sugimori Nobumori is a love-suicide Bunraku, which is basically a puppet play that has been performed as a component of Japanese culture for quite some time. The story features an orphan merchant named Tokubei and Ohatsu, a courtesan with whom Tokubei is in love.

Illustration of PDF document

Download The Love Suicides at Sonezaki Study Guide

Subscribe Now

It can be considered as a work of social realism that represents aspects of society that were undoubtedly true during this time, and it positions the act of suicide as a culturally important phenomena—both Tokubei and Ohatsu die by their own hand at the very end of the play. However, as this is a puppet play, the act does not hold the same gravity were it to be performed by "real" actors.

The story includes Tokubei's refusal to conform to traditional societal standards, such as when he refuses to marry his aunt's niece. As the story progresses, Tokubei's situation becomes more and more dire as he refuses to conform to society's standards at the behest of his beloved Ohatsu.

The format of this story could also be compared to Romeo and Juliet, by William Shakespeare, as it involves the actions and fates of two "star crossed lovers"; Tokubei is unable to marry Ohatsu as a result of his occupation, his personal circumstances, and Ohatsu's position as a consort. Therefore, themes of love and loss are heavy, as are themes about the pitfalls of traditional culture and expectations: Tokubei is expected to follow his uncle's orders without regard to his personal feelings or beliefs and the feelings and beliefs of Ohatsu. Thus, themes of unfair patriarchal rules and cultures match with other love-suicide cultures, despite the unique cultural context of this play in Japanese history and theatrical performance culture.

Unlock This Study Guide Now

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-hour free trial



Critical Essays

Explore Study Guides