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50 TORSTEN SANNAR Upon witnessing Onoe’s death, Ohatsu, like Yuranosuke, swears to seek revenge. The play implies that these noble sentiments are the natural byproduct of her birth into a samurai family. The plot culminates in Iwafuji’s death at the hands of Ohatsu and her ascension to Onoe’s former place in the household. The absence of patriarchal characters in the major onstage conflict of Mirror Mountain, however, does not negate their ultimate effect. In fact, their lack of equal representation in terms of stage time makes male interference more pronounced when it occurs. For example, it is Danjo, Iwafuji’s evilplotting brother and emissary from the samurai lord, who instigates Onoe’s beating and humiliation at the hands of Iwafuji. He pronounces: “This incident is all Onoe’s responsibility. Iwafuji should act accordingly and as emissary I will supervise” (Ibid. 190; italics added). The female characters also directly refer to the Chushingura story as a guide for their decisions (Ibid., 198). When Ohatsu fears that Onoe is contemplating suicide, the maidservant references Hangan of the famous play Chushingura to ascertain if Onoe intends to imitate his fatal action. Perhaps the most significant effect of the patriarchal samurai code on the women of Mirror Mountain is also the least obvious. Despite her suspicion that Onoe is about to kill herself, Ohatsu leaves her only when Onoe invokes the master/servant dichotomy that is the law of the samurai world. Onoe threatens to dismiss Ohatsu from her service unless she will deliver a suicide letter to Onoe’s mother. Though Ohatsu’s asides to the audience indicate that she fears for Onoe’s life, she acquiesces to her lady’s demands and reassumes her designated role in the feudal hierarchy. Here again, as in Chushingura, an adherence to duty prevails over any allegiance to human emotion. Similar to Lady Kaoyo’s suicide attempt in Chushingura, Ohatsu’s wish to “follow [Onoe] in death and be [her] servant in the world beyond” is thwarted by a protective male character – the formerly disgraced Motome in this instance (Ibid., 211). Although a traditional interpretation might allow that Motome “saves” Ohatsu’s life, one must ask if she needs saving? In Chushingura, Lord Hangan certainly did not receive the same consideration. It is also noteworthy that, through his gallant action, Motome is restored to proper status after his earlier humiliation in the ladies’ domain. The reestablishment of feudal order also serves as the resolution to Mirror Mountain. By decree of the ruling samurai, Ohatsu becomes Onoe II and attains her former master’s status. Though Ohatsu rises in rank, her ascension is subject to multiple interpretations. On the one hand, she becomes a member of a privileged class seemingly by virtue of her noble actions – her revelation of Lady’ Iwafuji’s wrongdoing and the revenge taken on Onoe’s behalf. On the other hand, her actions alone were not the agent of change. Rather, the validation of that behavior by the patriarchal order assures her

Sagar XVII — 2007  
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