Enchi Dangerous Women

Enchi Dangerous Women - Elizabeth Hagen Dangerous Women in...

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Elizabeth Hagen Dangerous Women in Japanese Lit. 5/1/08 Final Paper Fumiko Enchi and Feminism A Tale of False Fortunes by Enchi Fumiko is a novel about the memory of a fictitious historical document bearing the same name. The narrator is the author herself, reconstructing for the reader a lost fictional manuscript which recasts what was originally an account praising the virtues of one Fujiwara no Michinaga as a tragic story of romantic love thwarted by the cruel calculations of a power-hungry, political tyrant. Enchi writes that as a young, female reader fortunate enough to have at her disposal both the original story and its imaginative adaptation, she identified most readily with the heroine of False Fortunes , Empress Teishi, fascinated by her exceptional beauty and artistic and intellectual abilities, descriptions of which are notably absent in the much blander original, Tale of Flowering Fortunes . The construction of the enigmatic character, Teishi, into which Enchi collapses several concepts of the dangerous woman as she appears in Japanese literature, is one of many ways in which the author challenges patriarchal literary devices. Another of these is her conspicuous use of metafiction, which calls attention to the creative, and therefore non-essential element in the production of any narrative form, including political and historical “facts.” This is also reflected in her treatment of the established convention of spirit possession in Japanese literature, which her characters consciously utilize in order to defy the passive female gender roles they are otherwise consigned to in Heian society.
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The Empress Teishi’s power over the men in False Fortunes lies in her flawless adherence to the role of man’s ideal feminine, as embodied in the beauty and abundance of her cold, black hair, references to which abound in Enchi’s novel. The multiple symbolic possibilities for hair in the novel (as womb-like, fluid, embodying beauty, vitality and youth) include, somewhat paradoxically, allusions to a phallus. The potential to view strands of hair as metaphorically equivalent to serpents allows the reader to interpret Teishi’s power as simultaneously derived from both feminine and masculine points of literary origin. In “Desire and Enlightenment in Dojoji,” Klein addresses the process of the woman’s body becoming living, phallic serpent in the Noh play, arguing that the use of this symbol, representing both female and male sexuality, is an attempt to erase the possibility of male desire, projecting all culpability onto the feminine. The many variations of the Dojoji tale center on the demonic rage of a lustful woman who, tricked and rejected by a traveling monk, transforms gradually into the embodiment of her rage, a supernatural serpent. The serpent-woman takes her revenge on the monk by burning him alive as he hides from her inside a sacred bell, and compulsively returns to the site years later to interfere with the religious dedication of this same bell. Her evil will is
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This note was uploaded on 05/04/2008 for the course GALLATIN 101 taught by Professor Cornyetz during the Spring '08 term at NYU.

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Enchi Dangerous Women - Elizabeth Hagen Dangerous Women in...

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