She is only a poor ronin ( ) and an old woman, knows nothing of the

In document The evolution of Chikamatsu's history plays (Page 82-94)

world. If Kansuke is her son, I

suppose he is not much of a

samurai(7).

W h o e v e r , he was given a big s u r p r i s e later by her p r o f o u n d military k n o w l e d g e and had to admit "She is indeed a strong- minded old lady"(8).

In the scenes when she is brought to the castle of Terutora ( K e n s h i n ) w h o is Shingen's rival, until she is d i s p a t c h e d to her s o n - i n - l a w ' s h o u s e in the f i r s t half of Act 3, her loyalty to the m a s t e r of her son b e c o m e s i n c r e a s i n g l y i m p o r t a n t . F a c i n g K e n s h i n , she insists on the contract that she m a d e f o r her son, w i t h o u t any f e a r f r o m his threats nor w i t h o u t being s u s c e p t i b l e to his lure even though he is the master of her son-in-law. These scenes r e v e a l a staunch and i n d o m i t a b l e c h a r a c t e r and p r e s e n t a m o r a l i d e a l of the s a m u r a i class in c o n f l i c t w i t h a m o t h e r ' s private f e e l i n g s for her son and daughter.

F r o m the point w h e n K a n s u k e is tricked to enter K e n s h i n ' s castle till the d r a m a t i c c l i m a x of Act 3 when the m o t h e r throws herself o n t o the swords w h i c h her d a u g h t e r and d a u g h t e r - i n - l a w were f i g h t i n g with, another aspect of this heroic w o m e n ' s strong character e m e r g e s . B e s i d e s her duty in the r e l a t i o n s h i p b e t w e e n

master and servant, she is, after all, an elderly woman and a mother who cherishes her son and daughter. When she realizes that her son has been deceived on her account, she decides that it would be better for her to kill herself in front of General Kenshin. In this way, she can win the General's sympathy for her son; otherwise Kansuke would surely be killed if he makes Kenshin angry by disobeying his order. Moreover in this way she would not bring more trouble to her daughter's family who now serve K e n s h i n . Her s e l f - s a c r i f i c i n g action reveals a noble nature. Although this sequence of events covers only three scenes of the story, a f u l l y - d r a w n complex image of the mother has been generated: she is such a resolute heroine and yet she has a mother's warmth and simple truthfulness. Her character creates a deep impression. In comparison, the character of Muneoka's mother is less effective than that of Kansuke's mother and part of t h e d i r e c t i v e n e s e of the l a t e r p o r t r a y a l d e r i v e s f r o m C h i k a m a t s u ' s m o r e d e l i b e r a t e d e v e l o p m e n t of the m o t h e r ' s character over more than one act.

T h e r e are of c o u r s e s o m e i m p r e s s i v e d e p i c t i o n s of characters even in the early plays. For e x a m p l e , the j u d g e Nakakuni and his wife's sacrifice of their only son, Kanjamaru, to save General Yorimitsu who temporarily falls into d i s f a v o u r in Female Goblin with a Baby; Moroiwa, Prince Hanahito's former samurai, forces his lover to kill her brother Muneoka to save his

master Hanahito in Emperor Ydmei and the Mirror for Craftsmen.

F r o m these c h a r a c t e r s one may obtain a hint of a d e e p e r personality. However in the former play, Nakakuni, his wife and their only son, K a n j a m a r u , appear only in Act 3 and do not

r e a p p e a r b e f o r e or a f t e r that t r a g i c scene. L a t e r , the loyal samurai appears only in Act 2. T h e e m p h a s i s in these p l a y s is o n l y on t h e i r l o y a l b e h a v i o u r to t h e i r m a s t e r s so t h e d e v e l o p m e n t of character is limited.

In the later works such as Twins at Sumida River and Tethered Steed and the Eight Provinces of Kanto, in c o n t r a s t , C h i k a m a t s u g a v e the s e l f - s a c r i f i c i n g h e r o m o r e c h a n c e to act, speak and appear on stage. T h e r e f o r e , these plays contain m o r e subtle descriptions of this kind of samurai such as Sota and M i d a . In these w o r k s C h i k a m a t s u portrayed m a j o r c h a r a c t e r s in m o r e i m p o r t a n t s i t u a t i o n s t h r o u g h w h i c h their t h o u g h t s and f e e l i n g s gradually e m e r g e . Here the character's actions are shown m o r e broadly: the appearance of the samurai is not limited only to Act 3 of the tragedy scenes or to a single role. W e can see in the f o l l o w i n g analysis that the d e v e l o p m e n t of the c h a r a c t e r s such as Sota in Sumida River and M i d a in Tethered Steed g o e s well beyond their roles as substitutes for their masters.

In Twins at Sumida River, the a u d i e n c e is g i v e n an introduction to Sota, Yoshida's f o r m e r samurai (also called A w a j i - n o - S h i c h i r o ) in Act 1 and Act 2, t h r o u g h a r e f e r e n c e to his s q u a n d e r i n g of ten thousand ryo (a measure of gold in the E d o period) f r o m his master. In Act 3, Chikamatsu c a r e f u l l y a r r a n g e s a dramatic coincidence: Sota has earned, by hook or by crook, a sum of money over ten years' business just e q u i v a l e n t to his debt to his master, and then he has an unexpected reversal of f o r t u n e s with the last child to be sold. T h e r e is a lively d e s c r i p t i o n of Sota's actions. This seemingly evil child-stealer Sota "sheds tears

without any m o v e m e n t " (9) when he recognizes the boy he killed as his young master, and realizes all of his d r e a m s f r o m the past eleven y e a r s h a v e s u d d e n l y v a n i s h e d . A f t e r s t a b b i n g h i m s e l f , through his force of will:

He puts both hands into the wound at a b r e a t h , and pulls out his vital organs, casts them into the sky, and then throws his bright red intestines into air (10).

He does this to b e c o m e a tengu d e m o n in order to r e s t o r e the Yoshida fortunes. T h e tragic e f f e c t is achieved both by a third- person narration of the action, s h o w i n g Sota's crisis, and through Sota's own w o r d s which reveal his inner feelings. For e x a m p l e , b e f o r e his suicide the narrator uses the f o l l o w i n g words to show Sota's crisis:

He stands up, goes to the back room, pulls up the tatami mat at full steam, and t r e t c h e s his hand under the bamboo blind and takes out the packs which contain 50 ryo, 30 ryo and 100 ryo of money. ... suddenly he sets the money in front of them (11).

Both words and action depict his crisis. He realizes that he was neither the loyal n o r the filial servant, and that the m o n e y he saved in the e l e v e n y e a r s is n o l o n g e r u s e f u l . T h e n a r r a t o r continues with the f o l l o w i n g w o r d s discussed p r e v i o u s l y f o r their musical impact, w h i c h reveal Sota's d i s a p p o i n t m e n t :

He kicks over the pile of money, scatters the c o i n s in m e s s , a b r u p t l y t h r o w s h i m s e l f on the f l o o r and starts to cry...(12).

Sota's own words reveal his innermost thoughts and feelings as he relates how he diligently earned the money over the past d e c a d e h o p i n g to r e p a y his master, and serve him a g a i n . However, his means were cruel and in the end that brings him to his crisis. The words and expressions which explain his feelings cover nearly four pages in the Japanese transcription (13) and not only touch his w i f e and T a k e k u n i ' s heart but also is calculated to move audiences to tears. It is such an e f f e c t i v e treatment of character that even after Sota kills himself and b e c o m e s a s u p e r n a t u r a l d e m o n , the i m p r e s s i o n of r e a l i s m remains; his agony is so great that his spirit must live on.

Sota's death changed the dramatic mood of the play f r o m tragic to auspicious. The 'demon' Sota finds out and brings back the other twin, the young master Matsuwakamaru, to his mother Hanjo in Act 4, and sends them to their home in Kita-Shirakawa by his supernatual magic power. In the last act he punishes Daijo and restores the Yoshida f a m i l y . Chikamatsu developed this portrait of a loyal samurai through a series of stories over several acts instead of having the characters appear in one scene only.

Tethered Steed and the Eight Provinces of Kanto (1724), Chikamatsu's last play, provides another example of Chikamatsu's dramatic skills. Here the samurai Mida appears in the first two acts in order to f o r e s h a d o w the later development of the plot.

M i d a a p p e a r s in the i m p o r t a n t scene of e l e c t i n g the heir of Yorimitsu (Raik6)'s family in the first act. On a c c o u n t of his

being caught dallying with the maid Kocho, he considers suicide to save

his r e p u t a t i o n . Yorimitsu's youngest brother, Y o r i h i r a , stops the event becoming public and so saves Mida's life. Mida is deeply g r a t e f u l and i m m e d i a t e l y determines "to give his life in battle against the (enemy) Taira clan" (14). So, in the second act, when Yorihira is forced to surrender to the enemy and is captured by his brother Yorinobu, Mida risks being accused of colluding with the enemy and begs for Yorihira's life, so that Yorihira is allowed to stay in his home temporarily. Finally, in Act 3, Mida commits suicide in place of his master, Yorihira, who r e f u s e d to admit his f a u l t . T h e plot d e v e l o p s a r o u n d the c o n f l i c t a r i s i n g f r o m Yorimitsu's order to his younger brother to admit his guilt and Yorihira's stubborn refusal. At the climax of the c o n f l i c t , Mida kills himself and begs his master to join his own family again and f i g h t the e n e m y together with his brothers. T h r o u g h M i d a ' s s a c r i f i c e , Y o r i m i t s u and his brother w e r e united t o g e t h e r , and finally they defeat the Taira clan.

C h i k a m a t s u p a i n t e d a f u l l p i c t u r e of M i d a both as an individual and as a brave samurai. F u r t h e r m o r e the a u d i e n c e is clear about the motivation behind his action of s e l f - s a c r i f i c e . A distinct portrait is created of a samurai who is i n d i s c r e e t in his personal life but who redeems himself at the critical m o m e n t in order to save his master's life. Thus, through the f o u r actions in t h r e e a c t s , C h i k a m a t s u d e s c r i b e d and d e v e l o p e d M i d a ' s personality: by Mida being almost exposed and d i s g r a c e d f o r his s h a m e f u l b e h a v i o r in the f i r s t act (15); r e q u e s t i n g Y o r i m i t s u

boldly to allow him to hide the culprit, Yorihira, at the risk of

In document The evolution of Chikamatsu's history plays (Page 82-94)