Chikamatsu Monzaemon's Plays

For many of the characters in Chikamatsu Monzaemon’s plays, their honor was defined by how the public viewed them and how they will be remembered. The value of life is miniscule compared to their reputation and honor.   Many of Chikamatsu’s plays contain the motif of suicide.   By definition, suicide may simply be the ending of one’s life by one’s own free will.   However, in three of Chikamatsu’s plays, The Love Suicides at Sonezaki, The Battles of Coxinga and The Love Suicides at Amijima, the suicides that occurred reveal the mentality and the moral beliefs of the people who committed suicide.
      Completely opposite of a cowardly act, suicides were considered to be brave and noble actions.   The fact that one has enough courage to end his life to defend a noble cause was considered heroic.   From the three plays, suicides were merely exchanges; life itself was the ultimate currency when all comes to worst.   For all of the characters who have committed suicide, committed suicide for the sake of their reputation and always took into consideration of how people might view them.   Therefore, the characters do not suicide on their own free will, but rather because of the pressure given by the public.   Only by giving up life, one can then redeem their honor, and their suicide can serve as proof of innocence.   Only the act of suicide can appease the public.   Strikingly, in the three plays, the characters in each play do not suicide alone.   Allowing a love one to die by themselves may affect the reputation of those who remain alive.   Therefore, not only do women suicide for the sake of protecting the men’s honor but actually for their own.