Onna-koroshi-abura-no-jigoku by Chikamatsu-Monzaemon is known as a work that is extremely difficult to interpret. Especially there has been much controversy over the following remark the prodigal son Yohei made to Oyoshi; “Now I have realized that my parents are worrying much about me. I was moved to tears when, bitten by mosquitoes at the entrance, I secretly listened to what each of them told you.” Does Yohei sincerely repent of his misdeeds at this moment in spite of his subsequent murder of Oyoshi? Here I will suggest that his remark be interpreted in terms of melodramatic conventions based on Confucianism. Indeed, the scene is strongly reminiscent of Gomou's filial piety in Nijūshi-kō, the episode about a boy who stayed naked at night to be bitten by mosquitoes so that his parents could take a good sleep. The meaning of Yohei's repentance will be more explicable if it is thus intertextually grasped.
Books called “yomihon” are a sort of popular fiction in the Edo Period that was greatly influenced by novels written in vernacular Chinese. Indeed many adaptations of Chinese stories are found among the early “yomihon” books published in Kamigata. In the original stories there are often used so-called “sewamono” plotlines such as the reunion of separated couples or the integrity of a prostitute. This melodramatic aspect of the “yomihon” novels is also derived from the Chinese vernacular novels, many of which deal with current affairs in the daily life of ordinary people.
Some “yomihon” novels of the Bunsei Period are adaptations of true stories. For example, Yōfu-kōgiroku is based on a true story called Saikoku-junrei-onna-katakiuchi, but it is dramatically reworked with the additional depictions of complicated relations between parties concerned and the background against which the event happened. Chiyo-monogatari more explicitly foregrounds the narrative elements of Sanyō-kidan, a fiction-like true story with the concept of a fatalistic correspondence between individuals and history. Although those adaptations are often regarded as hackwork, they show not only a formal similarity between “yomihon” novels and true stories but also the authors' efforts to create narrative dynamism.
The best works of Kawatake-Mokuami, one of the major “kyōgen” playwrights in the transitional period from early modern to modern times, are a series of “sewamono” dramas in the Meiji Period. They can be classified into the two types; the dramas set in the former period and those dealing with current affairs. This paper will outline the development of these two kinds of “sewamono” dramas which started to be written after the death of Ichikawa-Kodanji the Fourth at the end of the Edo Period.
This paper will examine the theme of a clan in Utsuho-monogatari in terms of gestures such as “hugging,” “holding in the arms,” or “caressing on the lap.” While these affectionate gestures are made to strengthen family ties, they also have an ideological function to implant the identity of the whole clan in the minds of children. But in the story children innocently receive affection from the members of the clan without noticing such a political design.