Kazuo Ishiguro's Remains of the Day Essay

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Kazuo Ishiguro's Remains of the Day

Kazuo Ishiguro's Remains of the Day gives an eloquent treatment of the issue of how a stoic English butler's unemotional reaction to the emotional world around him is damaging and painful, and how he resolves to make the best of the "remains of the day";the remainder of his life. Ishiguro explores some of the differences between the old English Victorian culture;that of the stiff upper lip, no show of emotion, and repression of personal opinion; and the no-holds-barred American culture of free expression of opinion and emotion. The American culture's spread into England is hastened with the two world wars, and it ends Stevens' old way of work, if not the job itself. Although Remains of the Day
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You’re the real thing, aren’t you?'; (124). The instance in which Stevens is called to the dining room to give his opinion on world affairs is particularly sad: the lordship and his guests want to have an amusing little discussion, but all Stevens can manage to say is, “I’m sorry, sir, but I am unable to assist in this matter'; (196).

Behind each minor task of Stevens, Ishiguro raises deep questions about human beings’ relationships to their employers, and the repression of emotions which frequently occur. When Stevens learns that Lord Darlington’s reputation was totally wrecked after it was revealed that that he had sued a newspaper for libelous accusations about his alliance with Nazis, Stevens realizes that all his years spent trying to be dignified for Darlington were wasted. Darlington’s ruin makes a joke of Stevens’ years and years of personal service and devotion. Ishiguro may be attempting to make a point about all people’s attitudes toward their employers: do not spend your whole life trying to please one boss because you may find in the end that it was not worth it.

Ishiguro draws a comparison between the intense loyalty of a butler to his lord and the loyalty of the German people to Hitler. Though Stevens insists on referring to his father as “sir,'; his loyalty to him leads to a break in his professional duty to his employer, since he supports his father’s attempts to hide the signs of his
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