Ihara Saikaku’s Life of a Sensuous Woman written in the 17th century and Mary Woolstonecraft’s A Vindication of the Rights of Woman written in the 18th century are powerful literary works that advocated feminism during the time when women were oppressed members of our societies. These two works have a century old age difference and the authors of both works have made a distinctive attempt to shed a light towards the issues that nobody considered significant during that time. Despite these differences between the two texts, they both skillfully manage to present revolutionary ways women can liberate themselves from oppression laden upon them by the society since the beginning of humanity.
In Saikaku’s story Life of a Sensuous Woman, he uses his main character an Old Woman’s story to show how women can be as competent as men if they use their knowledge and experience in a right way. The two men who came to hear the old woman’s story and ask her to help them understand more about life indicates that women do possess the ability to be intellectual and use their knowledge to guide others (Saikaku 594). It is clear that how valuable the old woman’s opinion was to those two men that they came to seek her guidance instead of going to a man. The whole idea of men seeking guidance from a woman during the 17th century is revolutionary. One can comprehend that women are capable of using their knowledge and experience to lead the way to others including men thus becoming a vital member of society.
Empowering women continues as the Old Women’s story progresses where Saikaku articulately shows how women can fulfill their own desire and not give into what men expect of them. Old Woman’s young self choosing the exceptional letter writer samurai and not giving into the desire of many handsome men who wanted her is a brave step considering the time period where women were under the mercy of men (Saikaku 595). One can see her act as a liberating step toward following ones own heart and not give into others expectations. Even in today’s society women are frightened of being judged by others, and pressured by what is considered norm. They are forced to give in to what is expected of them by their family, friends, and society. They are expected to get married by a certain age, marry with what society considers a qualified husband who is well educated and earns a good living, and have children by a certain age. Her act encourages women everywhere to give their own desire a chance instead of giving into the society’s norms.
The strong main character of Saikaku’s story continues to exhibit the power a woman can hold as her saga continues. Landing the spot as a Mistress for the Domain Lord while setting her own conditions without having to compete with others exhibits the eloquent use of her skills that enable her to get what she wants (Saikaku 598). One can only be awed by her ability. While everyone is competing to land the spot on the terms of the Domain Lord;...