Love or Lust In Akutagawa’s “Kesa and Morito”, the text suggests notable differences between love and lust. In regards to the underlined symbols of love and lust, the characters identified within the short story may portray the differences between the symbols. Wataru’s character may symbolize the meaning of true love, and will identify the correlation to that of purity and innocence. However, the characteristics of Kesa and Morito may symbolize lust, and the evil and selfishness associated with it. Love may create kind and giving acts, such as the text describes Wataru’s actions toward Kesa.
On the other hand, lust may lead to destructive and irrational gestures that are described by Kesa and Morito’s defining actions. According to Morito, Wataru Saemon-no-jo made a valiant effort to win the heart of his wife Mesa. Wataru loves his wife Kesa, and his actions proved such fact. Kesa’s aunt Koromogawa further stated, Wataru “spared no pain or effort to win Kesa’s heart” (p. 436). He has a reputation of being a prosaic man. With that said, Wataru even took on the burden of learning poetry. Wataru expressed his love for Kesa through the noted examples.
The true symbol of love within the text appears to acknowledge Wataru and his efforts to win over Kesa. Wataru has a profound love for his wife. Due to such love, the text implies that Kesa and Morito may have felt sympathetic toward him. In a few circumstances, Kesa and Morito actually consider Wataru’s feeling throughout their encounter. In the beginning of the story, Morito explains how his heart would hurt if he has to kill a man he does not hate. When Morito found out that Wataru and Kesa were married, he burned with jealousy. After the affair with Kesa, Morito mentioned that his jealousy faded away.
He actually stated that he has no hatred or spite toward Wataru. In fact, Morito thought kindly of Wataru. One can understand how Morito could become jealous, knowing that the woman of his desire married another. After all, Morito had an association with Kesa three years prior. Without the three year absence, their relationship may have been different. Thus, many reasons can account for Morito to dislike or have hatred toward Wataru. Although the text does not state the exact reason Morito thinks kindly of Wataru, the inference may lead one to suggest.
Due to the honorable means Wataru won over the heart of Kesa, Morito could not maintain malice thoughts. Ultimately, Morito acknowledged Wataru’s innocent and pure love for Kesa. Such attribute most likely caused Morito to idolize his character. Lusting after the flesh can be just a mere thought. Once the thought becomes an action, significant ramifications may follow. According to Morito, during the three year separation from Kesa, he dreamed of an intimate encounter with her. He never admits to loving Kesa, therefore an inference may suggest the feeling of superficial desires.
The dream of intimacy can lead one to believe that lust is a factor. As mentioned in the earlier text, Morito once burned with jealousy over the union between Kesa and Wataru. After their affair, the jealousy faded. Such fact may lead one to believe that love could not appear as a factor. Several times after intimacy, Morito questions his own feeling for Kesa. “But do I really love Kesa”? (p. 437) Morito asks. He thought that he loved her before she married Wataru. After looking into his own heart, he realized several motives may have caused such thought. Morito struggles with the fact that he had not intimately engaged her years prior.
Knowing that Morito had never experienced intimacy prior to their absence, his fleshly desire may have been the driving force. His proclaimed love for her may simply unveil nothing more than “sentimental embellishment of the motive that drove Adam to Eve” (p. 437). The text suggests that within their three year break in association, Morito appeared unsure of his love for Kesa. Morito felt tortured with the fact of not experiencing Kesa’s body. He describes the feeling as regretful. Upon the completion of the Watanabe Bridge, Morito finally connected with Kesa.
Morito resorted to all sorts of means to reconnect with the woman of his desires. Once they met, the regrets immediately began to fade. Due to the fact that he broke his virginity, his fleshly desire may have dissipated. As the text progress, Morito describes the diminished beauty of Kesa. He describes his disappointment, because she did not appear how he envisioned her to be. Morito states, that she does not possess the “statuesque beauty that he had imagined for the past three years” (p. 438). At such time, Morito felt the need to maintain the course and accomplish his past lustful desires.
After intercourse, Morito felt an empty feeling. He did not feel an attachment with Kesa. Morito describes how lust dominated him. The unexplainable lust turned into hatred. Like a blink of an eye, Morito despised Mesa. After describing the confusion he felt with the lust and hatred, Morito decided to kill Wataru. As mentioned in the earlier passage, Morito thought kindly of Wataru. However, due to the confusion of lust and hatred, Morito felt no other way to address such iniquities. The gesture of killing Wataru clearly implies an irrational thought process, and could not be explained by Morito.
Upon interpreting Kesa’s motive to engage in adultery, it appears that lustful feelings factored in her decision. According to Kesa, she felt ashamed of her actions. She described that she would have to live in shame, and live life like a prostitute. “In this case I shall carry my regret beyond my grave,” (p. 440) Kesa stated. Uncertain if Morito would kill Wataru, Kesa refers to Morito as selfish. Kesa describes the feeling of hurt, based upon the perception of ugliness within her heart. According to the text, Kesa mentions how she gave her body to a man she did not love.
Her lustful behavior appears to summarize her action as a, “delirious moment” (p. 440). In addition, Kesa refers to Morito as a “lascivious man who hates and despises me” (p. 440). Although Kesa made it clear that she can not reciprocate her husband’s love, she maintains a deceitful lust for Morito. Kesa made an omission that she had a shameful desire for Morito. Ultimately, Kesa cast blame on Morito for taking her body for, “his wicked lust” (p. 441). After rationalizing the deadly ending, Kesa ponders about her husband’s feeling, in the event he should find her dead.
In the end, her statement was, “no I won’t think of him” (p. 441). The contrast between love and lust were noted throughout “Kesa and Morito”. The only person associated with the symbol of love appears pure, genuine, and honorable. Wataru possesses all of those attributes and characteristics. On the other hand, Kesa and Morito were the symbols of lust and fleshly desires. Due to the decision to act upon the lustful desires, the text outlined reactions to such actions. In conclusion, the symbols of lust define the actions of evil and irrational thought processing.