A Beauty of Easy Virtue

When reading Saikaku, there was a heavy influence of female manipulation and power the narrator had in her line of work. Her insight to a new costumer was very revealing on how prostitutes could completely manipulate a night. The narrator’s early comment on a how a man new to the pleasure quarters is, “a man who knows nothing about the art of the tea ceremony, yet finds himself thrust into the seat of honour” (142). This comment seems very insightful to how prostitutes could fully read men and see their shortcomings, and later use this to there advantage. This insight a courtesan has allows her to make the night go the way she wants it, in this case pretend to sleep. However, the narrator’s clear understanding of consequences from actions and then how to rebound from them reflects a high sense of knowledge in this kind of work. Her ability to say one line in front of the costumer’s companions can completely change the end results, which shows how manipulating prostitutes could be and how effective that manipulation could be as well. This sly way the narrator could make the costumer content, despite not doing anything all night, seemed relevant due to the movie Sakuran carrying similar ideas. It is known that this movie is highly stylized and not a hundred percent historically accurate, but the interaction the main character had with the oiran about deception and truth seems to connect to the Saikaku narrator’s story. The idea of deception and the art of small yet impactful moves in prostitutes’ line of work seems to play a big role. Yet, the narrator in Saikaku points out that even though some of these powerful manipulation moves are small in action there are some “dull-witted courtesan[s]” that can not achieve them. As a result, the ability to execute minute but strong manipulation in a pleasure quarters seems to separate the advanced strong courtesans from the feeble ones.

About Bizz

I am a double major in Art History and Medieval & Early Modern Studies at Dickinson College. I am president of the Dickinson College Film Club, therefore I am a huge movie geek. I also work as an intern at the school's art museum, the Trout Gallery. I love the color green, and have three cats and a dog.
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