"Tokyo Cancelled" by Rana Dasgupta. The Concept of Desire in the story "The Doll"

Essay, 2009

12 Pages, Grade: 1,0


The Concept of Desire in the story The Doll in Tokyo Cancelled by Rana Dasgupta


Desire is by definition the absence or the lack of something. Whatever this lack consists of is the object of desire. The story The Doll deals with different concepts of desire and each concept is attached to one or more different objects of desire. This essay will examine the different concepts of desire and their functioning as driving forces behind the caracters’ actions. Identifying the longing of the characters will help to analyse their behavioural patterns more precisely. Since it appears, that all the character’s actions in The Doll are mere results of their desires, it will be interesting on focusing on whether free will for the characters in the fictional story world of The Doll exists or if the characters’ actions seem to follow a strictly composed pattern that leaves no room for optional actions. The attempt to make the character’s individual desires as motivational states visible is intricate but when achieved nonetheless rewarding, since every person constantly desires something. In addition to that it is an interesting fact that “Because we continually experience desire, we are oblivious to its presence in us.”( Irvine 3).

Desire is within every single aspect of our daily lives.“Desire animates the world. It is present in the baby crying for milk, the girl struggling to solve a math problem, the woman running to meet her lover and later deciding to have children, and the old woman, hunched over her walker, moving down the hall of the nursing home at a glacial pace to pick up her mail.

Banish desire from the world, and you get a world of frozen beings who have no reason to live and no reason to die.”(Irvine 2)Therefore it is vitally important to take a close look at the desires of the characters in order to differentiate the characterizations. The desires of each character can be considered as the basis for the behavioural patterns they show in their fictional story world. In order to illustrate that point we can take a look at the protagonist Yukio. Yukio seems to be constantly forced by desires. His whole characterization is built around his desires and his strategies to fulfill them. It is said that Yukiko comes from a “very ordinary” (176) family and also his father-in-law had dreamed of someone “significant” and “impressive” by his daughter’s side. Not only Yukio is feeling this lack of superiority by wealth, but also his father-in-law clearly states that he is aware of the fact, that due to his social background, Yukio can not contribute as much as he ought as a worthy partner for Minako. His self-esteem is very much based on the having, or better the not-having of material prosperity. As shown on page 177 Yukio is bothered by the fact that he “did not own anything that generated wealth”. The word own is written in Italics which puts a strong emphasize on the importance of the concept of owning something. All the characters that appear in the story have those driving forces. Minako seems to be the character the least determined by desires. But Yukiko and also Mr.Yonekawa both seem to have very strong desires for something which they lack. Yukiko lacks being human and tries to compensate her lack by trying to be pretty or by possessing things of value. Mr. Yonekawa also has a strong materialistic orientation but since he is successful and seems to get what he desires, he does not suffer from his desire as much as Yukio.And this essay therefore will analyse the characters and how they interact with each other in order to demonstrate the concepts of desire that form the basis of their actions.The first part of this essay will examine how the characters in the story are presented and how their characterization functions in order to present abstract concepts.

Yukio’s characterization needs to form the basis for any other characterization since we learn the story through his perspective as the protagonist. Every judgment that is made throughout the story The Doll can be considered to be his evaluation.

The Different Types of Characters

There are only few round characters in The Doll. Yukio who is the protagonist of the story is the most round and dynamic character. This character is quite complex concerning the length of the story. As the story continues the reader gains a deep insight in Yukio’s behavioural patterns. Even though Yukio’s inner monologues are rare his actions and his different objects of desire characterize him very vividly and leave his character open for interpretations. Since we do not discover inner monologues that exactly point out, what Yukio is thinking most of the time, we have to analyse the character by his actions and his interactions with others. As a fictional character of the story world we could describe Yukio’s character as a round as well as a dynamic one. However, since Yukio’s character is not fully explained it has to be remarked that as far as the conception of his character is concerned we need to speak of an opaque character who is rather psychological which means that he is only ordinarily self-aware and perceptive ( Meyer 2008:81).

General Characterization of Yukio

The general description of Yukio begins with an important information. Yukio is described as a person who is ever since striving to impress and longing for recognition. This becomes already clear in the first sentences of the story, when it is said that Yukio “ wanted to be a computer genius” (175) or “ a great artist” (175) or “baseball hero or an astronaut” (175). His desire for being extra-ordinary and his want to impress follow Yukio throughout the story as driving forces behind his actions. The fact that Yukio wants and maybe even lives to be more impressive by gaining recognition is also underpinned by the second passage on page 175 when it is said that Yukio’s business cards were “ each one more impressive than the last” (175). However another trait of character that will stick to this character throughout the story is mentioned on the first page of the story – Yukio has difficulties making up his mind when it comes to his different objects of desire. It is said that he “always wavered” (175). Yukio knows that he wants to achieve something already when he thinks about his future career and job perspectives, but he is not able to set his heart on one single option.


Excerpt out of 12 pages


"Tokyo Cancelled" by Rana Dasgupta. The Concept of Desire in the story "The Doll"
University of Stuttgart  (Anglistik - Neuere Englische Literatur)
G2: Current Indian Fiction
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
File size
488 KB
Note bezieht sich auf die Seminargesamtleistung inkl. Essay, Referat und Mitarbeit
Current Indian Fiction, postcolonialism, rana dasgupta, fiction, tokyo cancelled, desire, the concept of desire
Quote paper
Lisa Kastl (Author), 2009, "Tokyo Cancelled" by Rana Dasgupta. The Concept of Desire in the story "The Doll", Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/267759


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