Feminism Ichiyo

At this period of time in Japan women had essentially no power as explained in “The Thirteenth Night”. The main character of this story is the wife of a very wealthy, successful and powerful man, Isamu, which becomes her purpose in life. As described by their marriage, she exists as a servant to him. She is to cater to his every need and accept all abuse that is directed at her in order to please him, while also providing him a child. The aspect of bearing the child is shown to be very important in this traditional marriage when she described to her parents that Isamu treated her very well up until she gave birth to their son Taro. This implies that one of her sole purposes as a wife to Isamu was to provide him with a son, and that after that happened her value as a person drastically decreased, and his treatment of her declined.

This servant-like relationship was not unique to Ichiyo’s situation, it was the culturally acceptable dynamic between men and women at the time. This is shown by her father’s views on Ichiyo’s miserable marriage. He constantly reminds her throughout their discussion that her purpose as a woman is to support and please Isamu no matter how poorly he treats her. He feels this way despite having sympathy for his daughter’s suffering. He explains that many women are miserable in their marriages as well, however they all deal with it because that is the way that things should be.

This story shows that women at the time were not viewed as individuals, but accessories to men. Ichiyo at the end of her conversation with her parents resigns herself to remain Isamu’s property which her father essentially suggested. Additionally, her father tells her that if she divorces Isamu she goes back to being “his daughter”, implying that she does not exist as an individual, only as a wife to a husband or a daughter to a man.

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