Fumiko Enchi Masks Character Analysis

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The Relation of Life and Fiction in Modern Japanese Literature Second Paper Fumiko Enchi, Masks Masks by Fumiko Enchi is a novel which depicts outstanding female characters who behave far from how a traditional, good woman should behave. These characters are the center of the story, a story which revolves mainly around Mieko, even though one might think when starting to read the book that the main plot is about Yasuko and her two potential lovers, Ibuki and Mikame. Far from that, the story gains in intensity as the plot progresses and we begin to know the motivations behind the characters. One of the first things worth talking about is the title of the novel: Masks (or, its original title女面 onna men- woman masks). The title makes reference…show more content…
To a certain degree, they reminded me of all those gullible women tricked and seduced by Don Juan in The Trickster of Seville and the Stone Guest. However, in this novel, it is not just Yasuko the one who plays with them but also Mieko, the master puppeteer behind Yasuko’s actions. This contradicts the traditional gender roles, as women are usually the ones seen as weak, naïve and easily manipulated and men are the ones in control, with a strong character and with the power to manipulate other people. Therefore, I think that gender roles are reversed in this novel. Starting with the Noh Theatre reference, where men also take female roles, we can see throughout the novel how there's not a defined male or female behaviour, as women seem to have attitudes traditionally related to men and men seem to act like a woman is traditionally expected to. In this novel, women are in control. However, this doesn’t apply to Harumé, as she is simply treated as another tool in Mieko’s revenge scheme. Mieko is the perfect example of the powerful woman archetype, feared by both men and women as she doesn’t fulfill the typical woman role expectations. I think she is feared by women because she is what all those not-brave-enough women want to be, and she is also feared by men as they see her as an equal, not someone
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