By Alex Andy Phuong

I am a huge fan of British literature.  One of my favorite novels is Kazuo Ishiguro’s The Remains of the Day.  I also wrote a review of its film version on a humorous film review website.  Kazuo Ishiguro’s The Remains of the Day succeeds in blending the main themes of loss and regret with its sub-themes through a combination of literary techniques, such as symbolism and the actions the characters take.

The Remains of the Day utilizes various methods in order to intertwine the themes of loss and regret with sub-themes, such as dignity, in order to create a work of literature that acts like a unified whole.  For example, the sub-theme of dignity connects to the theme of loss through the actions of Stevens.  The novel suggests that Stevens is an individual who expresses concerns over his reputation, all of which relate to the themes of loss and regret.  Stevens’ desire for dignity implies that he wants to have a sense of comfort about mistakes he made in the past.  Nevertheless, he experiences nothing but remorse because of his past mistakes, which inhibits his ability to accept his true self.  Additionally, the theme of regret relates to the sub-theme of personal identity.  Some of his dialogue implies that Stevens is willing to grow in spite of dwelling in the past.  Additionally, Stevens’ identity issue relates to the sub-themes of exile and nostalgia.  He feels alone, and yearns for the happiness he had experienced in the past, but he still does his best to cope, and strengthen himself personally.  Throughout the novel and film, he gains self-awareness, which relates to the main themes of loss and regret.  Stevens’ dynamic progression prompts him to learn more about the limitations of his own heart.  In spite of such limits, the fact that he is an English butler who firmly holds on to the belief of being a proper English gentleman reveals his nationalistic identity.  The sub-theme of nationalism also dies into the main themes of loss and regret because England changes as he does.  Thus, Kazuo Ishiguro’s The Remains of the Day does succeed in intertwining the main theme with its sub-themes through fully-realized characters that change dynamically in a literary work that examines the nature of loss.


Alex Andy Phuong earned his Bachelor of Arts in English from California State University-Los Angeles in 2015. He was a former Statement Magazine editor who currently writes about literature, film, and culture. He has written film reviews for more than one hundred motion pictures for MovieBoozer, and his writing has appeared both online and in print. Alex is a writer who dares to support the ones who pursue their dreams.

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