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Betrayal in “a thousand autumns of Jacob de Zoet

Betrayal is the act of proving to be untrustworthy to the point that you cannot trust the individual who trusts you. It entails delivering anyone into the hands of the adversary by deception, all in breach of faith. It is a heinous act and it almost always proves deadly to the deceived side. One of the main themes encountered in this novel is betrayal, which is caught in a sequence of crucial incidents. It is very difficult to foresee betrayal as it happens mostly to those people that are kept so close to us. It is a causal agent to most of the misunderstandings between people as it is the complete opposite of what the affected think of the other parties.

David Mitchell is an exemplary author as he deeply portrays this theme of betrayal, besides other themes, in a very clear way. The instances are easy to pick themes from as they are well elaborated and the author involves the reader in feeling the emotion followed by the theme in the various instances (Callam 560). It is generally a book that would attract a multiple of readers as it encompasses several genres to ensure that each reader is contented. On betrayal, it is evidenced in a number of instances, some which will be discussed in this paper.

The book is based on a region known as Dejima. The chief of Dejima is so corrupt and has wayward ways. His corrupt moves betray Dejima as the chief was appointed in that position to ensure that every detail moves smoothly and also to end corruption. He does the opposite and that poses him as a betrayer of the region. He gets involved in illicit trades and privatizing which negatively affect the region (Childs 190). The officials under the chief are not any better as they also give the chief a hand in their attempts to scavenge on the resources meant for the people. They involve themselves in huge corruption scandals. This is a form of betrayal to the people of Dejima since the officials took an oath of office before being office bearers and they have betrayed their people by not doing what they were supposed to do.

The chief is changed with the hope of better governance and lesser corruption. The incoming chief comes into power together with Jacob de Zoet. He comes in with a lot of vision and does away with corruption at his level best. Due to his integrity and honesty, most officials despise him as he gives them no opportunity to steal as it has always been their routine. The region is then filled with a lot of hungry scavengers who await every single opening so that they can devour what is meant for the public. It is to this effect that Jacob gets a very hard time trying to kill some of these vices in the region. He is affected by betrayal that emanate from all branches of his authority (Faulkner&Owen 12). This is viewed by how Jacob is being let down by his very own close colleagues who are supposed to be helping him ensure that the island is in the best condition.

Jacob gets to his new job with a lot of enthusiasm to work and bring change to the high corruption levels in Dejima. He does this by bring up policies that once effected, would be very effective and would change the island to the advantage of everybody. These wonderful dreams are betrayed by the many obstacles that Jacob faces in his line of duty. The very first obstacle is the woman that Jacob falls in love with. She makes him lose focus on some of the things that he had hoped to achieve. His feelings therefore betray his oath of office and the many promises that he had hoped to achieve.

Jacob also falls in love with a midwife by the name Orito. In the first chapters of the book, they seem to be so in love and nothing could separate them. It later turns out that sadly Orito had to betray Jacob by falling in love with another person. Jacob had plenty of hopes with Orito and he knew that she could one day be the mother of his children. She always confused Jacob and they both were quite sure of each other. It gets so remorseful that the trusted woman had to betray Jacob by falling in love with another man. It even got to a point where Jacob sent her a present of a Dutch dictionary, something that was so valuable for a woman of her stature. Together with the gift, Jacob also attached a request proposing marriage to Orito. Orito had a very big birthmark on her face which made her to lose much on the number of men she attracted and so for her to have Jacob being attracted to her, it was absolutely an unexpected turn of events (Hicks 23). Some may however blame the betrayal on unavoidable circumstances since emotions such as love cannot be controlled but it was based majorly on ignorance.

Jacob also portrays aspects of betrayal where he falls in love with Orito. Jacob had a fiancé back home and he was so willing to marry her but her father could not let it happen because of Jacob’s social status. So he decides to go to Dejima and try making his life worth marrying his fiancé and in the process he meets the Japanese housewife, Orito. It was so sudden as the readers do not expect Jacob to fall in love, and more so, to a woman of very low social status and who has a huge birthmark on her face (Mitchell 45). This action betrays Jacob’s fiancé as she is said to be waiting for Jacob to acquire some wealth and then get back and marry her.

Another instance of betrayal is committed by Ogawa, who is the Dutch interpreter. The interpreter was sent by Jacob to go and deliver a gift to Orito. The gift was also to be followed by a marriage request from Jacob. Jacob trusted Ogawa and that is why he was not afraid to send him to the woman he loved and also to send him with a proposal and a gift for her. After some turn of events, Otane notices that Orito was in love with Ogawa and they even planned for marriage (Mitchell 45). It was so sad having considered that Ogawa was a friend to Jacob and Orito was Jacob’s lover. This event is in fact one of the greatest events that explained the theme of betrayal. It is also the most unexpected turn of event. Ogawa knew that both Jacob and Orito were in love but still went on to pursue her. To even worsen it, he was the one sent to deliver the wedding proposal. Jacob was betrayed by both of them.

Vorstenbosch, who was the commanding officer to Jacob convinced him into signing a trading documentation where he had to forge an official signature of a VOC (Larsonneur 76). Despite Jacob’s willingness to be truthful and to act with integrity, he agrees to the commanding officer’s request and forges the signature. The commanding officer is later found by Jacob trying to steal from the VOC. Jacob is not willing to let go of his integrity again by concealing the theft. He is an upright man and fell into the commanding officer’s by mistake. The commanding officer asks him to go silent on the theft or else he will also forward his forgery claim. Jacob is tossed in between a rock and a hard place on whether to accept the deal since he was also in the wrong. After a series of thoughts, Jacob decides to uphold his stand on integrity and report Vorstenbosch. This act subjects him to the consequence of not having to get a promotion and he sticks in Dejima waiting for the following trading season. The commanding officer had the trust of Jacob and he decides to throw it into the trash by blackmailing him so that he could go scot free with his theft case. Jacob is however betrayed for withholding his virtues of integrity and honesty. This betrayal scenario is however different from the rest since he is also in the wrong. He is betrayed because he accepted to collaborate in doing wrong by forging the VOC’s signature. Despite the actions that caused the event, there is still the theme of betrayal in the instance.

Jacob sees Orito through a window from his office. Orito is at the gates in Dejima trying to maneuver her way in. she is denied access and Jacob, despite his powers, just watches as the events unfold. He refuses to go to her rescues due to reasons best known to him. On the instance, the readers expect that Jacob will go and help Orito out due to the love he felt for her and her already proposition to marriage. The opposite happens and Orito is taken away by the guards. The betrayal act sets in since both Orito and Jacob were lovers and they were expected to be there for each other mostly in such trying times but that was not the case. It felt so intimidating for Orito having to be whisked away into confinement before the eyes of the man who had proposed marriage to her.

While Ogawa and Orito were planning to marry each other, as it is always the routine, they had to introduce each other to their parents. So when it came the time for Orito to be presented to Ogawa’s parents, his adopted father rejected her for several reasons, one being the debt that her family had and the birthmark on her face (McMorran 90). It is expected that parents are supposed to accept the marriage of their children as far as they both love each other and they do not have to judge on the basis of class or wealth. It was therefore an act of betrayal when Ogawa’s parents denied him the chance of getting married to the person he loved.

Orito was in good service to the people of Dejima. She served as a midwife, helping women while giving birth and therefore encouraged the increase in population and also showed her love for humanity. It was expected that she would really be supported by the people in her region since she was really helpful. Despite being very loyal to her people, she was taken to the temple at the Shiranui Mountain where the disfigured women and the crippled could be taken due to lacking an alternative place to go (Wang 12). This was like confinement for Orito whose mistake was the debt left by her deceased father. The officials at Dejima betrayed Orito’s trust since she was always trying to help them.

Orito was at Shiranui Mountain for lack of an alternative place she could go following the death of her father. She is there to pay for the debts that her father had before his death. Ogawa was so much in love with her and he could not just sit while Orito was suffering in the mountains. Ogawa therefore planned for an attack which was set to rescue Orito from her miseries and take her home. He has a group of mercenaries that he had planned to evade the mountains with. The mercenaries show disloyalty by betraying Ogawa while on the mission to rescue Orito (Childs 23). It was so painful for Ogawa since he could not show the efforts he had put in rescuing the woman she loved and who he was to marry after he had settled the differences that were states by his parents.

Shiyamo had a very huge task that he had to play as far as the security of the people in Dejima was concerned. he was supposed to ensure that the people in Dejima are always safe and that no external forces could attack. He could do this by sending out men on the boarders of the island to go guard it and ensure there is no external attack. There was a time Shiyamo failed to send a thousand men as he was supposed to who were to go guard Nagasaki. The action was due to ignorance. The Englishmen therefore took the chance and evaded Nagasaki (Hicks 87). Shiyamo had therefore failed not only himself, but the people of Nagasaki as a whole. This therefore became the biggest act of betrayal to the people of Nagasaki. Such instances were treated by the perpetrators being forced to go and commit a ritual suicide. Suicide was one of the toughest punishments that any member of the Dejima community could be subjected to.

Shiyamo had to go and commit a ritual suicide as his form of punishment. On this event, he insisted that he wanted Enamoto to accompany him as he goes to perform the ritual. Enamoto is hesitant but he later agrees to the call. The main role that Enamoto was to play in the ritual is assisting Shiyamo i whatever he could not carry out alone (Mitchell 21). Enamoto follows Shiyamo and they both go to perform the forced ritual. Shiyamo ends up betraying Enamoto by first killing him before he could commit his forceful suicide. It is an unexpected turn of events as Enamoto was only there to assist Shiyamo on what could turn out to be hard for him on the event of the ritual.

In the final chapters of the book, Jacob fall in love again and marries another Japanese woman. This becomes an act of betrayal for both Orito and his fiancé who he had left home. This event does not really appear like it is betrayal since it happens after some period of time. At that time, Jacob had already gotten over Orito and also forgotten his fiancé (Larsonneur 21). On Orito for example, Jacob was advised that if he really adored and loved Orito, the best thing he could do was to stay away from her. This manifests itself as betrayal since Jacob had to let Orito go despite the love and the attraction he felt for her.

David Mitchell does a very good job in trying to cover various instances that discuss the theme of betrayal. The main factor that seems to be the major cause of a majority of betrayal cases is love. Love has betrayed a number of people, including Jacob and Ogawa. There are also some other factors that David Mitchell has used to show betrayal such as vengeance, corruption, bad leadership and many other aspects. David has also employed a number of characters that play their roles very well in depicting the theme of betrayal. From a majority of the readers’ perspectives, betrayal is one of the major themes that have been portrayed by David Mitchell in “A thousand autumns of Jacob de Zoet”.

Works cited

Callam, Daniel. "Cloud Atlas (2012) Written and directed by Torn Tykwer, Andy Wachowski and Lana Wachowski." The Chesterton Review 38.3/4 (2012): 560-567.

Childs, Peter. "Food Chain: Predatory Links in the Novels of David Mitchell." Études anglaises 68.2 (2015): 183-195.

Faulkner, Andrew, and Owen Hodkinson. Hymnic narrative and the narratology of Greek hymns. Brill, 2015.

Hicks, Heather J. "" This Time Round": David Mitchell's Cloud Atlas and the Apocalyptic Problem of Historicism." Postmodern Culture 20.3 (2010).

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).

McMorran, Will. "Fragmentation and Integrity in the Postmodern Novel." David Mitchell: Critical Essays 1 (2011): 155.

Mitchell, David. The thousand autumns of Jacob de Zoet. Knopf Canada, 2010.

Wang, Ching-Chih. "Dejima as an Imaginary Homeland: The Imag (i) nation of."

Betrayal in David Mitchell’s “A Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet”

Outline

Betrayal is the act of proving to be faithless such that you cannot trust the person who trusts you. David Mitchell is an exemplary author as he deeply portrays this theme of betrayal, besides other themes, in a very clear way. The theme is portrayed in the following instances:

The chief of Dejima is so corrupt and he therefore betrays the people of dejima since he had signed an oath of office.

Jacob has a lot of dreams for the people of Dejima and these dreams are betrayed by the many obstacles that Jacob faces in his line of duty.

Jacob betrays his fiancé by falling in love with Orito.

Orito betrayed Jacob by falling in love with Ogawa.

Ogawa was trusted by Jacob and he ends up betraying him by falling in love with Orito.

Vorstenbosch betrays Jacob when he is caught stealing and tries to blackmail him but Jacob held his morals strongly.

Jacob betrays Orito when he does nothing while Orito was being denied access at the gate. All he did was watch through his window.

Ogawa’s parents betrayed both Orito and Ogawa when they denied them the opportunity to get married.

Orito was betrayed by the people of Dejima, where she served as a midwife. She was sent to the Sharanui Mountains.

Ogawa was betrayed by his mercenaries on his attempt to rescue Orito.

Shiyamo betrayed the people of Nagasaki by failing to send out the One thousand men to guard the boarders.

Shiyamo betrayed Enamoto who he had asked to go assist perform his ritual suicide. Shiyamo betrays Enamoto by killing him.

Jacob also falls in love with another Japanese woman and these becomes betrayal to Orito.

Annotated Bibliography

Callam, Daniel. "Cloud Atlas (2012) Written and directed by Torn Tykwer, Andy Wachowski and Lana Wachowski." The Chesterton Review 38.3/4 (2012): 560-567.

This book elaborates on the many themes that have been employed in the book, “A thousand autumns of Jacob de Zoet”, betrayal being one of them

Childs, Peter. "Food Chain: Predatory Links in the Novels of David Mitchell." Études anglaises 68.2 (2015): 183-195.

This article elaborates on the several themes used by David Mitchell in the elaboration of his story which is based in a region known as Dejima.

Faulkner, Andrew, and Owen Hodkinson. Hymnic narrative and the narratology of Greek hymns. Brill, 2015.

This book bases its support on the various styles that have been used in the elaboration of various books, David Mitchell’s being one of them. It also explains the various themes that have been used by these books, betrayal being one of them.

Hicks, Heather J. "" This Time Round": David Mitchell's Cloud Atlas and the Apocalyptic Problem of Historicism." Postmodern Culture 20.3 (2010).

This article marries David Mitchell’s story and the various apocalyptic problems of historicism. This article also goes ahead to explain the themes that have been used in the article.

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).

This book discusses on the meditations of science and translation in the book, “Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet”. Apart from science and translation, the book also talks of the various stylistic devices and themes that have been employed in the book by David Mitchell.

McMorran, Will. "Fragmentation and Integrity in the Postmodern Novel." David Mitchell: Critical Essays 1 (2011): 155.

This article bases on the fragmentation of the Novel by David Mitchell. It also bases its information on the integrity in the book. This is followed by a series of themes that are essential in the analysis of the book.

Mitchell, David. The thousand autumns of Jacob de Zoet. Knopf Canada, 2010.

This is the original book from where the theme of betrayal crops up from. It gives the whole story in details hence being the main source of information for the paper.

Wang, Ching-Chih. "Dejima as an Imaginary Homeland: The Imag (i) nation of."

This book looks at the originality of the story by David Mitchell. It also gives different perspectives that the story could be viewed from hence elaborating the themes that have been applied in the book.

Find out more: "Where can proofread my paper from experts?"

Dillon, Sarah. "Introducing David Mitchell’s Universe." David Mitchell: Critical Essays 1 (2011): 3.

This book is a critique of the works of David Mitchell. It dwells majorly on the themes and styles that have not been properly used in the books written and published by David. All the same, it also gives some of the best shots taken by David. It also has a brief history of David Mitchell as a person and also as an author and where he picks his ideas to write a majority of those books. There are several themes that have been elaborated from his book, “thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet”, and betrayal is one of them.

Johnstone, Chris. "Book review: THE THOUSAND AUTUMNS OF JACOB DE ZOET." Br J Gen Pract 60.578 (2010): 703-703.

This article is just a book review of the thousand autumns of Jacob de Zoet. It gives the story in brief and also elaborates on the different themes that have been used in the book.

August 18, 2021

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