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Tanizaki’s ‘The Key’
The Husband, feeling insufficient for his younger wife but frustrated with her high morality, begins to push her towards a younger man, originally seen as a potential match for their daughter, in an attempt to restore his own vitality through jealousy and voyeurism. It becomes clear that all four characters have their own agendas, yet a common goal: to see the Wife corrupted and pursue an affair. However, this ultimately ends in tragedy as the Husband reaches his very limits.
The novel is told through the diary entries of the married couple and it becomes clear from an early stage that they are reading each other’s’ diary entries, whilst pretending not to, and using them as a way of communicating with each other and even to manipulate each other. Therefore, the reader can never be sure of the true events and intentions related through these subjective diary entries. Furthermore, the actions and emotions of the daughter and the lover are even more unclear as the reader can only ever learn of them through the married couple’s biased diary entries.