Confession of a Mask, by Yukio Mishima
“Confession of a Mask, by Yukio Mishima, was written in 1958. The novel is centered around Kochan’s journey of discovering his identity by hiding behind the “mask” that he portrays. During the militaristic and imperialist era of Japan, there was some ideology of feudal society that was extremely stereotypical. Because of some gender issues, it was impossible to openly engage in homosexuality. Imperial Japan is a very hostile place for people like Kochan. Love is one of the main themes in the novel, specificity Kochan’s love toward Omi. Kochan’s love for Omi is both moral and immoral.
Kochan has a secret desire towards to his classmate Omi, whose several years older than the rest of the class because he failed his studies, and as a result, his body is more developed and attractive than others. Also, Omi treated others as he is superior to students around him but not unfriendly to Kochan. It seems like he sees Kochan has passions towards him. He is later expelled from school during summer break and Kochan never sees him again. The love that Kochan has for Omi is immoral.
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Kochan himself is a symbol in the novel. A symbol of rebellion, rebellion against moral principles of Imperial Japan era. His immoral love violated the ethical value that was generally accepted during that era. What’s moral about Kochan’s love is that he cared about the opinion of others and society, so he wore this “mask” to pretend like others and not stand out in the way. The problem is that he has become the victim of this. He tries to pretend he is attracted to women and even decides to have a crush on Kusano’s younger sister Sonoko. “In all my life my heart had never before been so touched by the sight of beauty in a woman” (Mishima 61). Kochan eventually breaks off with Sonoko later when he found out that he cannot love a woman romantically.
However, deep in his heart, he was in love with Omi but still has the uncertainty of his sexuality. “I dodge. A raw canal feeling blazed up within me, branding my cheeks. I felt myself staring at him with crystal clear eyes… From that time on I was in love with Omi. For me, this was the first love in my life. And, if such a blunt way of speaking be forgiven, it was clearly a love closely connected with the desire of the flesh”” (Mishima 61). These words expressed Kochan’s admiration and lust.
He desired homosexuality to be generally accepted by society during that time. While in the other scene, “I covered her lips with mine. A second passed. There is not the slightest sensation of pleasure. Two seconds, it is just the same. Three seconds… I understood everything (Mishima 197). Before this “kiss” happens, Kochan was uncertain about his own sexuality but knows that he is attracted to men. Sonoko is beautiful, and Kochan wants to be normal and gives a try to love Sonoko and kisses Sonoko. With no sexual sensation, before, during, and after, Kochan finally understands his sexuality.
To conclude, in Confession of a Mask it is still difficult to assert whether Kochan’s love is moral or immoral. Kochan had become a victim of this Japanese culture that rejected homosexuality and views same-sex desires as shameful and sinful. Kochan decided to wear this “mask” to oppress his sexuality as moral. However, he had to lie to himself and others and that behavior was immoral.”