Rashomon

Film and Literature

In the short story Rashomon by Akutagawa Ryunosuke the theme of choosing between life and
death and right from wrong has been put to the test over and over through out the depths of time. With this
knowledge it can clearly be stated that one can not perform an evil without thinking about one being done
in return to them.
In Rashomon the servant was left with a valiant decision, one in which he felt very uncomfortable
and at the same time believed incapable of making. After some brief analysis of his situation he clearly
realized he needed to make a decision between feast or fam-ine, he chose the former. Humans when faced
with making critical choices such as one that involves there own life over the life of an-other and at the
same time put under pressure about making those choices tend to save themselves. This was exactly the
choice the ser-vant made. This of course without saying is the natural choice, but these decisions are also
the ones that separate the heroes or icons from ordinary people. Decisions such as whether to fight for your
country even though you donıt agree with the reason for it, or to stand up for your religion even though you
will be persecuted. The servant could have opted not to rob the old women and think of an-other way of
surviving, but that would have been the more !
difficult of the two decisions. When he climbed up that latter he was full of fear but that fear soon dispersed
when he saw an old women, some-one who was weaker than him. The servant saw the old women pulling
hair out of the head of corpses he still at this point had com-passion for those dead people and his human
side arose:
³With every hair she plucked, the manıs fear subsided. But, at the same time, he began to feel an
intense hatred for this old women. To put it more accurately, a growing aversion to all manner of evil
slowly welled up inside of him. If at this moment he were to weigh the merits of stealing or starving to
death, as he had done under the gate, he would have chosen death without any hesitation.²
What made the servant change from what the author reveals about his character that he was an adequate
servant to his master to a crazed man. The fact is all humans have sinned and when tempted with the
opportunity it can sometimes seem very difficult to turn down especially with mundane decisions.
Although, it angered him that the old women was taking hair off corpses heads and was going to use them
to make a wig and sell it for food or money it didnıt oc-cur to him that it would have bee no different if it
were him taking the hair off the heads of those corpses because he was robbing her. At that moment he was
so engulfed with evil that only the thought of survival raced through his mind.
When flushed with a decision that can alter your life for the better you will more than likely make
that choice which will enhance your life without the consideration of others. This was the exact choice that
both the servant and the old women made. The servant took advantage a situation because he would have
otherwise starved to death. The next time he might be the one who will be taken ad-vantage from by
someone stronger than him.