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The Tattooer Essay

1111 words - 4 pages

Morgan Holsclaw 9/20/2014ENGL 2400Art, Beauty and Power in The TattooerJunichiro Tanizaki's story, "The Tattooer" begins with the narrator illustrating the ancient art of tattooing. He vividly describes that Japanese men, who were performing in the Kabuki Theater, received tattoos in order to satisfy their upper class audiences and enhance their beauty. This story is about a young tattoo artist named Seikichi who trained as an ukiyoye painter in his youth but dropped in social status and became a renowned tattoo artist. For years, Seikichi perfected his tattoo artistry on many clients. To him they were his body canvases which came in all different shapes and sizes, but he yearned for something more, he wanted the perfect canvas to paint his masterpiece on. Throughout the story, Seikichi is in search for the first woman to be blessed with his artwork. This woman has to meet his certain qualifications though. "A lovely face and a fine body were not enough to satisfy him" (Tanizaki, 81). After he finds his ideal woman to tattoo, he scars her with the most beautiful tattoo he has ever completed. Seikichi knows his artwork is powerful but the tattooed woman soon shows him how powerful his tattoo can be. "The Tattooer" truly exemplifies art, beauty, and power through Seikichi's obsession with his artwork, the significance of the woman and her tattoos beauty, and the power that the tattoo itself provides to both Seikichi and the tattooed woman.In the beginning of the story, the audience is introduced to main character Seikichi and his pride in the images he creates on canvases of flesh. Seikichi is very confident of his artwork and knows he is famous for the boldness and sensual charm of his art around all districts of Edo. He is explained to be very particular in choosing a man to tattoo, "No one whose skin or whose physique failed to interest him could buy his services" (Tanizaki, 80). Even after he would choose someone to tattoo, he would demand that the price and design was under his discretion. If the men could withstand the excruciating pain of his needle, the tattoo could take days to months before finishing. This long process was very pleasurable to Seikichi, he enjoyed watching men whine and wince under his needle because he pictured himself with all the power. The obsession with the pain he inflicts only fuels his obsession with his artwork. His obsession soon spreads to his desire to find a woman to tattoo. After years of searching, he finds the perfect woman. His obsession becomes so severe that when he only catches a glimpse of her feet, he is certain he has found the one. He concludes that the woman's foot is "…a foot to be nourished by men's blood, a foot to trample on their bodies" (Tanizaki, 81). This statement is the first that provides the theme of power through his artwork. However, after he sees her foot, he follows her until he has lost all sight of her. He then becomes determined to find her and claims that his "long-held...

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