Free Literary Essay on Sei Shonagon's The Pillow Book

Published: 2017-12-26
Free Literary Essay on Sei Shonagon's The Pillow Book
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Gender Literature
Pages: 6
Wordcount: 1556 words
13 min read


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Playwrights are the epicenter of modern society given that they place the immediate context of man’s society. Over the years, novelists have had significant impacts on the world population in the sense that they have been able to present ideas and communicate their thoughts through various platforms. Sei Shonagon is typical novelist whose work has received acknowledgements over the world for a long period. Shonagon’s creativity and expertise started receiving credibility in the early years of the 10th and 11th centuries. The immense credibility associated to Shonagon is that she was amongst the earliest aristocratic women that exhibited their intellectual prowess over a dominant population of the Japanese. Some literature scholars have misconceived Shonagon’s work in the sense that they tend to critic her work. In light of the developments by the scholars, it is valuable to credit that Sei Shonagon was particular with her thematic work on feminism (Sei &Meredith 133). The following essay is a discussion on Shonagon’s work of literature and illustration of her feminism viewpoint.

Feminism has been a centralized theme addressed by many authors in the world of literature. Over the years, many of the female writers have had the desire to venture into the world of the public domain with their exemplary works. However, there have been many challenges arising from the public especially men. As a result, women have received much criticism on their work. Others have been denied the opportunity to publish their works given the case that they have addressed sensitive matters such as oppression and gender imbalance. However, some women such as Sei Shonagon attempted to express the world around them during the early years of 16th century (Goodman 217). Their works have received much attention ever since given the acknowledgements within the modern society.

The ordinary society is set in a way that people have duties which are respected given the various gender roles. In the ancient periods, women and men agreed on the basic duties that each was allocated. For example, women were responsible for taking care of the family chore while understanding their role of reproduction. Men, on the other hand, have the responsibilities of providing for the women and children at home. As such, it was unheard of a woman undertaking the duties of the men (Goodman 251). However, men would occasionally undertake the duties of the many on rare occasions. Under such predicaments, Shonagon found a place at the Japanese courts and worked as the courtesan.

Sei Shonagon’s daily duties at the courts formed the basis of her experience given the fact that she worked with other qualified men. It is important to note that many of the novelists that have received accrediting from the world have always borrowed from their immediate life. For Shonagon, her involvement with men of integrity gave her the opportunity to express her personality from time to time. As such, her narrations and works of literature were based on the court setting given the case that men gave her the opportunity to meddle with the main affairs of the real world. In lieu of such a realization, it is of value to comment that Shonagon developed various writing techniques (Carter 178). Importantly, she believed in her work and experiences given that she presented various literature material like poems, dramatic plays and novels. Her ambition was to express her opinion of the world of a woman. Thus, there is the reasoning that Sei Shonagon managed to present her life through her exemplary writing. Evidently, she wrote works that are effectively documented in the diary of the Murasaki Shikibu. Additionally, she found the perfect opportunity to document about women in her profession where she commented about other aristocratic women and the other female personalities within the curt environments.

The Pillow Book by Sei Shonagon is of salient discussion given the case that it presents various segments that would help one to analyze her as woman. The ground to present such ideology is that ma y of the women within the ancient centuries were denied various rights since many of the men were opposed to the perspective of according rights to the female counterparts. Evidence to depict such reasoning is that many of the women within the society were burnished from speaking in the public or engaging in men’s discussions (Alcalde, Maria, Susan & Elle 219). Accordingly, they confined to the home environment since men believed that they belonged to the homes and the kitchen. However, few women had the guts to expose their experiences to the world through writing giving their intelligence.

Sei falls under such a category since she worked towards exhibiting the challenges that faced women who were persecuted in the Heian court. As a consequence, her accounts and narration are based on her encounters with other women in the court and her interaction with men that did not believe in her ability. One would take the stand that she tried to resist the issue of gender imbalance with her professional setting. The essence of her writing is that it brings the writer to the attention of the settings in the ancient times where women were expected to dress and react sin particular manners (Hiratsuka 176). For example, she mentions that the aristocratic women that appeared in court were expected to wear particular colors on certain days. In simple terms, the court was an institution that viewed people differently. Personality matters were a sensitive issue of discussion since they were entirely observed in the court house. The novelists felt the need to document the occurrences that shaped the image of women in the Japanese culture.

Shonagon’s work is unique in the sense that it serves as the platform to evaluate the challenges that women undergo within any society. Textual presentation in her work proves the ideology that societies threaten women rights. A point to note, her narrations revolve around the confinement and seclusion which affects every woman. For example, she works in the court house where men are the immediate threat. Next, she witnesses harassments of other women who were within her institution. This means that in reality women undergo various difficulties during the course of serving their responsibilities (Hiratsuka 176). More importantly, they are subject of oppression and ill-treatment on many occasions. As opinion, Shonagon has tried to create a platform for the world to understand how to treat women with dignity and uphold their inner personalities (reliance to their members of the society). Thus, she has depicted women’s complaints and feminists side at the end of the day.

Shonagon is a simple woman whose intent is to portray to the world her experience as a woman of the early centuries. More importantly, she aims at enlightening her disadvantaged fellow women through her writing. At some point, one would think that she is interested in inspiring women on the necessity of fighting for their cause. Her simple language and descriptive features are a testimony to such intuition. For example, she comments that women come into the court house wearing white codes for special occasions. Next, she gives her readers the impression that there are “folding screens,” and there are “ladies-in-waiting. Her descriptive language is the basis to exhibit the feminism elements of her life. Additionally, the novelist’s writings are foundational on the values of women during the 10th and 11th century. The air tight proof provided is the case that there is Contempt Shonagon’s work that is highly depicted by Shikibu’s ideology (Bullock 156). For instance, Shonagon views Shikibu as the queen of the Heian period who gives codes of conducts for other women. Importantly, she is viewed as the mirror of adoration by other woman and the dominant authority or force to reckon with. .

Conclusively, the equality for women status has been a force of recognition over many decades. There have been significant challenges that have faced women given the fact that men have failed to honor and accord the rightful positions to the female personality. Women writers have been the ultimate weapon to dealing with the issues of gender imbalance in the society. A writer such as Sei Shonagon has received much recognition due to her tireless effort to depict the rightful position of women in the Japanese society. The Pillow Book has been the platform with which Japanese women have had the opportunity to express their feminism agendas through writer She Shonagon.

Works Cited

Sei, Shonagon, and Meredith McKinney. The Pillow Book. London: Penguin, 2006. Print.

Carter, Steven D. The Columbia Anthology of Japanese Essays: Zuihitsu from the Tenth to the Twenty-First Century. , 2014. Print.

Goodman, Robin T. Literature and the Development of Feminist Theory. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2015. Print.

Alcalde, Maria C, Susan Bordo, and Ellen B. Rosenman. Provocations: A Transnational Reader in the History of Feminist Thought. Carlifornia: University of California Press, 2015. Print.

Hiratsuka, Raicho. In the Beginning, Woman Was the Sun: The Autobiography of a Japanese Feminist. New York: Columbia University Press, 2006. Print.

Bullock, Julia C. The Other Women's Lib: Gender and Body in Japanese Women's Fiction. Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press, 2010. Print.

Buckley, Sandra. Broken Silence: Voices of Japanese Feminism. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2012. Print.

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