Mujong Or The Heartless Analysis

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The novel Mujong or The Heartless by Yi Kwang-su is considered to be one of the most prominent books in the modern Korean literature. The narration is based on the description of the love drama that illustrates the cultural background and the change of the national Korean identity during the Japanese occupation. In this paper, an attempt to analyze the development of the character of Yong-ch’ae from the beginning of the story to its end is made. The novel shows the protagonists in the dynamic development, which allows to show the significance of recognition and vulnerability between characters. Yi Kwang-su manages to illustrate his theory of literature in this novel. He assumes that literature should have its own artistic value that helps …show more content…
It is the impulse that is the result of permanent feeling of guilt, of her inability to live according to the expectations of the others. It is especially striking and horrible in the contrast to the descriptions of Son-hyong’s life, who chooses at that moment the university course in the United States that she wants to take. She is brought up in more contemporary Western style traditions and she is sure that “a husband can not restrict his wife’s freedom… There is such a thing as the ‘self,’ you see. Everyone has the right to do what they want to do” (Kwang-su 262). Hyong-sik also shares these democratic ideas about the freedom of choice, the personality, and the right to change the life. He thought about it: “Hyong-sik believed that while all human beings were the same by nature, an individual or society could be improved and uplifted with the effort of that society or individual” (Kwang-su 209). Though, at the same time when Hyong-sik thinks that his childhood friend has drowned in the Taedong River, he feels extremely happy and the sense of relief is overwhelming (Kwang-su 221). He tried to rescue Yong-ch’ae from suicide but it was not the full hearted attempt. He was obviously tired of this own traditional image of the filial Korean woman without any signs of the self …show more content…
The second installment that is in the juxtaposition to this first scene is the last episode where Yong-ch’ae meets the man she loves and his young wife on the train station. The rain pour heavily and they go to the nearest inn where she tells them the story of her liberation. Yong-ch’ae managed to overcome the prejudices that were deep in her education and soul by herself. The society has certainly become more humanistic and such books as The Heartless have contributed to the development of the sense of humanity greatly. All these issues that are described in Mujong seem to be strange and offensive for the person who lives in the 21st century. The scenes of rape, oppression of women on the daily basis, their vulnerable social position, and the attitude of the Korean society to the orphan girl who chose the pass of the kisaeng are striking. Yi Kwang-su (294) in his essay What is Literature? defines literature as the soul of the nation that is transmitted from the older generations. Its main aim is to make the nation stronger, to unite it, and to make the lives of all people in the country better. It is possible to assume that the author managed to achieve this goal with the help of his novel The Heartless, because the conditions of women in Korea improved significantly from those

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