In the story Oseki is forced to remain Harada’s wife and put up with his mistreatment because it is the only way to help her family. Oseki represents what women went through at that time to obtain some type of power since the priority of women was to obey the man. She and her marriage are also affected because of their different social status. Harada believes he is superior to her and categorizes her as a woman without knowledge. The difference between their social classes leads them to have different perspectives about life. Oseki’s little knowledge of upper-class activities does not allow her to function as Harada would like.
Roku and Oseki both come from low-income homes, but she marries a rich man and has an affluent life. The incomplete Roku, though, has the potential to succeed. She is obviously not satisfied with her current relationship with Isamu, but it also doesn’t appear that she believes she will be content with her existing Roku. Regardless of her affections for either of them, Isamu is her superior option according to Marxist philosophy. When they converse, the reader is reminded of what her father had earlier remarked about her difficult marriage. He assured her that if she wasn’t content now, she wouldn’t be content if she returned to being their daughter either, but she would be in an upper-class setting getting married and leading a nicer life.
In the Meiji era, under the influence of traditional feudal thinking, marriages were mostly decided by parents, and children had no right to speak, and it was even more difficult for women to file for divorce. Although Oseki married into a wealthy family from an ordinary family, in a marriage without feelings, Oseki is more like a reproductive tool for passing on the family line. Disliked and scolded by her husband, although she doesn’t have to worry about the basic needs of life, it makes her feel that she has lost her dignity, and even has the idea of divorce.
However, Oseki’s ideas did not get her father’s support. Her father was conservative in his thinking, and feudal hierarchy thoughts were deeply rooted in him. Although he felt sorry for his daughter’s experience, he still asked Oseki to return to her husband. Under the double shackles of paternal rights and husband rights, Oseki is unable to fight against fate, and can only return to her husband again. Although she pursues freedom and yearns for equality, it is difficult for her to get rid of the heavy shackles on her body.
In the short story “The Thirteenth Night” by Ichiyo, the feminism literary theory can be observed. The main character Oseki is subjected to remain in her abusive marriage because of the ridicule she will face from society, the effect it will have on her family, and her not being able to see her son if she leaves. She attempts to leave her abusive husband and gets guidance from her parents. Oseki’s mother is immediately supportive, her father thinks about the situation but worries about the outcome and tells her to go back home. In her time period, similar to ours, the patriarchal values leave women dependent on their husbands. Oseki could symbolize the many women who do not have freedom. She has to stay in her relationship to prevent other horrible things from happening to her. Women often remain in their situations due to a lack of opportunities and how they will be treated when they try to obtain better lives. Women did not have much power but navigated through education if they were of higher class. Some used deception and hidden secrets.
I believe that the female character in the story represents not just Ichiyo’s own struggles, but those of all women in the 19th century. At the time, women were not held to the same standard as men, and as such, received lower quality educations compared to men. In addition to this, once they were married, they were not considered to be a partner to their spouse, but as property. The husband had all the power in the relationship, as evidenced in the words Oseki’s father said to her. Nothing could be done about this, and if women tried to speak out against it, they would be swiftly shut down by the same men they are trying to revolt against.
The way that Oseki’s marriage is affected by her economic status is through her interactions with her husband. Her husband, Harada Isamu, is verbally abusive and constantly berated and belittles her for her lack of education. For everything that Oseki does, she is ridiculed by her husband who says that so and so is done incorrectly. She cannot socialize well with the other wives of Harada’s colleagues because she has not had the same experiences that they have. Harada would barely speak to her and it made her feel undesired by him. As the story progressed, her family even told her that it was better if she returned to her abusive husband instead of freeing herself from that toxic marriage, because it benefitted others. Essentially, she was to be a lifeless husk of a person and to act as a servant to Harada.
What I think Oseki learns through her run in with Roku is that everyone is going through their own struggles that are equal to, if not greater than one’s own. Roku’s life was basically in shambles when he met Oseki. The significance of this meeting was to show how their separation affected both parties. Their separation is made more evident when Iseki believes herself to be the reason for Roku’s current state of being. Roku thought that he would marry his childhood love, and that dream was promptly shattered when he learned of Oseki’s marriage to Harada. Both of their dreams were.
Through the Marxist theory, Oseki and Roku’s interaction was greatly significant because of the different economic classes that they ended up in. They both were from poor families originally but she was able to marry wealthy and live an upper-class lifestyle while he was never fully able to become successful. She loved him when they were younger and explains that she would have married him if the choice was fully hers, but she sees the hardships that she would have likely endured in their relationship due to his position in the lower class. She is evidently not happy in her current situation with Isamu, but it does not appear that she thinks she would be happy with Roku currently either. Through the lens of the Marxist theory, Isamu is her better option, regardless of her feelings for either of them. The interaction they have takes the reader back to what her father had said earlier when discussing her miserable marriage.He stated to her that if she remained unhappy, and if she returned to being their daughter she would also be unhappy, but she would be in an upper-class situation married living a nicer lifestyle.
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.
In this short story, The Thirteenth Night, Oseki’s female character represents the status of women in the 19th century and the centuries before. Just like Ichiyo tried to get into a romantic relationship with her mentor, Nakarai Tōsui, hoping to get more connections to editors, the female character in the Thirteenth Night had to depend on what her father decided about her marriage, the financial power of her husband, and the need to protect her brother’s job.
Oseki’s experiences reflect what Ichiyo went through while growing up in Japan in the 19th century. Born and raised in a relatively poor family that was once relatively wealthy before things took a new turn, she experienced gender stereotypes from her mother. According to her mother, education was unnecessary for girls, and as a result, she made her stop attending school at the age of 11 despite her strong motivation to continue school. However, she did not have a say in this matter, just like Oseki does not have a say in ending the abusive marriage she is in.
Based on this story, women during this era had little power and also played limited roles in society, then. For instance, Oseki’s father reprimands her, mentioning that it is her responsibility, as a wife, to take care of her abusive husband. He states that her situation is not one of a kind and that many other women are leading unsatisfactory lives with their husbands, “your only responsibility is to Isamu—to make him happy and to manage his household” (Ichiyo 3). In her conversation with her father and mother, Oseki realizes that it is selfish for her to think of a divorce at a time when her own family belongs to a low social class, which also makes them more vulnerable to the potential demands of such a rich husband as Isamu.
In summary, to navigate the systems of power during this historical era, women had to compromise their feelings and thoughts for the sake of men and their children. Oseki, for instance, knows that divorcing Isamu would be the last time she would see her son, Taro, again. She vows to go back and watch over him like a ghost for his sake.
In the short story, The Thirteenth Night, by Higuchi Ichiyo, a young woman, Oseki, is troubled in her marriage to an abusive husband named Isamu. However, she does not have the power to decide whether or not to divorce him independently. Her parents are concerned about the well-being of her brother, who is now employed by Isamu, which means that a divorce would affect his job and supplement the family income.
One of the things that Oseki learns from her run-in with Roku is that every person has their share of sadness or grief, based on their context or circumstances. Not everyone gets to fulfill their original wishes in life. Nevertheless, she discovers that Roku has always been in love with her, which is also the primary reason for his financial downfall since he discovered that Oseki was never going to marry him.
Through the lens of a Marxist theory, Oseki pities Roku, her former love, who is now in a lower social class than she is. According to Marxist theory, society is made up of different social classes, the middle, upper, and lower classes, which are in a constant state of conflict. In the current context, Oseki is now in the upper social class, while Roku is in the lower social class. This means that she takes her time to consider her marriage with Isamu as a better choice compared to how things would have been with Roku. In other words, she learns that she is probably lucky to have married Isamu, not Roku.
The female character Oseki from Ichiyo’s “13th night” made a lasting impression on me and seemed to represent Japanese women at the time. Oseki’s background, how her higher husband treated her, and her terrible marriage all contributed to her character. The ideology of the 19th century made substantial distinctions between class and feudalism in this particular social setting. It was unknown how many women were crying at the time about their miserable marriages and the way they were treated by senior-class men. Additionally, the well-known author Haruki Murakami used his writings to express a variety of messages regarding women at the time. As in the illustration “Norwegian forest” which depicts a lady fleeing civilization before ultimately making the decision to terminate her life. In this society, women take on the role of a true wife by taking care of their children and keeping their husbands happy. It was a significant historical turning point, and later, as women grew more powerful, independent, and attractive, they overcame the power structure.