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What Makes Women Crazy In Ancient Literature?

1864 words - 7 pages

What does crazy mean? There are a few words that must be defined in order to support my argument. Crazy is an adjective that tends to mean passionately excited or enthusiastic. However it also can mean, “mentally deranged; demented and insane.” (Dictionary.com), which is important for the purposes of my argument because Medea is said to be crazy, but not overly excited about her situation. The next important word is mad, another adjective, and also a synonym for crazy. The last word is depressed, meaning “sad and gloomy; dejected; downcast.” (Dictionary.com). In The Tale of Genji , I believe Murasaki becomes depressed because she loses her “spirit”. Yet she hides her real emotions. Why are these words pertinent? Well they serve a purpose to distinguish culture differences in the two works: The Tale of Genji and The Medea. The different culture backgrounds in these two pieces of literature are important because it may help readers understand; why the characters “acted” in that specific manner. Therefore, I contend that the culture differences in Greek and Japanese writers reflect directly on the female characters reaction to the situations they were forced into. To support the argument, there will be background information provided on each author, including culture and personal history. Then I will explain the differences in each culture, specifically focusing in on their marital beliefs. However culture differences may not be the only culprit for the reflection of women in literature.
In The Tale of Genji, the character Murasaki was not portrayed as crazy, she was a young noble lady in courtship with Genji: “Murasaki was no busy being grandmother to the royal children”(Shikibu 1335). In today’s modern society, some Americans would think that Murasaki was mad for taking care of children that were not hers, when the children’s mother is still alive. In the Journal of Medical Ethics two authors published an article with the title The Case of Medea Fetal Maternal Conflict. These authors give a few examples of women who have gone crazy and killed their children. Another factor is the authors, The Tale of Genji was written by a female. Murasaki chose words the held emotional appeal to the readers when the characters were interacting with each other directly: “ She was near tears herself. /It is a life in which we cannot be sure of lasting as long as the dew upon the lotus. /And He replied:/To be as close as the drops of dew on the lotus must be out promise in this world and the next” (Shikibu p1346). Euripides, a male author, had a different approach in writing. He was more right to the point and rude with the interactions: “Jason: You feel the pain yourself. You share in my sorrow/ Medea: Yes, and my grief is gain when you cannot in mock it. /Jason: O children, what a wicked mother she was to you! /Medea: They died from a disease they caught from their father”(Euripides p78). Study show you can tell if it was a male of female writer in article...

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