A Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet By David Mitchell

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A Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet is a novel by David Mitchell, and it is clear that he is a first-class storyteller who focuses more on the style and sense of drama. The writer focuses on his writing the bicultural aspect of the European perspective. In the novel, Mitchell described Jacob de Zoet as an active Christian who used to pray for his family. Jacob was somehow upset with the practices that Europeans were practicing in the island of Dejima such as black market trade, corruption, and other ill-practices. Furthermore, Mitchell used good films in this novel that did his writings to be attractive to the readers. Since Jacob was strict on matters related to corruption, his patron, Chief Van Vorstenbosch gave him a task of investigating the irregularities that might have enriched the former assistants and Chiefs. However, the intention of the sponsor was to make Jacob to be hated by people in that small land (Larsonneur, and Hélène 1).

Unfortunately, despite the fact that Jacob was married to Ann, he went as far as falling in love another woman, Orito Aibagawa. The woman was renowned for being a midwife with a half-burned face. Moreover, an interpreter who formally fallen in love with Orito protected him out of the respect had towards Jacob – “a moon-grey cat, padding along the wall has caught Uzaemon’s eye” (Dillon 8). Therefore, from the actions portrayed by Jacob concerning loving other women alongside his wife indicates that being straight forward in another aspect of life do not apply in when it comes to love. Although the novel is not all about a love story, it builds the story line of Mitchell.

The idea of the lifestyle of people living on the small island of Dejima is shown through characters such as Jacob, Ogawa, Orita, Vorstenbosch, and society as a whole (Mitchell 2). In this case, corruption is one of the serious issues that are tolerated by people living on the island. In fact, this is the reason why Vorstenbosch was trying to convict Jacob by assigning him to duty with an intention that he appears enemy of people. The implication is that corruption was the order of the day and no one could be allowed to interfere with the act. In addition, the story depicts that the attempt by Jacob to deal with corrupting forces was the beginning of his affairs with Orita. At this point, Jacob started struggling on how he could maintain his religion because already he had a fare with another woman. Such an act is condemned in the society especially in churches.

The other issue is still revolving in Dejima where war-ship of British tries to take control over the Dutch. The implication is that they wanted to the territory to be folded into the Napoleonic Empire that was not welcome by those who were staying there. For instance, Vorstenbosch being a resist, he rejoices the humiliations that were inflicted on the Japanese. However, Mitchell indicated in his writing that, despite the humiliation that Jacob experienced while working in the company, the resolutions of his plights were all addressed (Atlas 4).

Themes

Mitchell portrayed several themes when writing the novel that includes colonialism, oppression of women, betrayal, love, and much more. The discussion, in this case, will be based on themes mentioned since they are the major ones.

Theme of colonialism

The book portrayed that people in the island were colonized through different levels of imprisonment. Concerning this, the imprisonment of Jacob and his colleagues occurred at Dejima where they could not leave not unless there were a ship departing. Following this, they were forbidden from stepping on Japanese soil. Additionally, Japanese themselves were imprisoned within their Empire with the colonialism (Dillon 12).

The of love

Love existed between Jacob and his first lover, Ann whom he was looking forward to marrying after he had returned from Dejima. However, on arrival at the island, Jacob got attracted to another woman known to practice midwifery by the name Orita. The same woman had fallen in love with Ogawa.

Theme of Betrayal

Betrayal is depicted when Captain Vorstenbosch pretended that he was employing Jacob in the Dutch company to help clean it from corruption. However, Vorstenbosch’s intention was to make Jacob be hated by all workers in the company and to appear as an enemy of people. Besides, Jacob also betrayed his wife, Ann when he fell in love with another woman by the time he started working on the island. Regarding this, he also betrayed his faith since at the beginning he was a faithful Christian.

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  1. Atlas, Cloud. “by David Mitchell.” A Visit from the Goon Squad (2004). Print.
  2. Dillon, Sarah. David Mitchell: Critical Essays. Canterbury, England: Gylphi, 2011. Print.
  3. Larsonneur, Claire, and Hélène Machinal. “Mediations: Science and Translation in The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell.” Études britanniques contemporaines. Revue de la Société dʼétudes anglaises contemporaines 45 (2013).
  4. Mitchell, David. The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet. Translational Literature, 2010. Print.
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