Noh Drama Essay

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In the same way Japanese poetry often alludes to or derives from the canon of poetry that precedes it, noh plays are often based off of classical Japanese literary sources that form the framework for the play’s themes and moral message. Many of these plays reference poems from revered anthologies, such as the Shinkokinshū, within the play’s dialogue, but it is the monogatari or tales that provide the foundation for certain noh plotlines because of their vast array of character references and plotlines. These tales are the primary sources of information for two plays in particular written by the famous Japanese playwright Zeami: Atsumori and Matsukaze. The warrior-play Atsumori draws from the famous war epic The Tale of Heike to further an…show more content…
I'll go look for one of their generals to grapple with!" as the Taira flee to their ships (Watson et. al. 98-99). This readiness to fight and provoke is an indicator of his rash and unrefined personality. In comparison, Atsumori is young and refined, an ideal court gentleman, as seen in his dress and possessions. He is “lightly powdered and with black teeth” and carries a “brocade bag with a flute in it;” both of these descriptions signify his elegance and cause Atsumori’s enemies to weep over his death and state, “These high-born people -- how gentle and refined they are!” (Watson, et. al. 99-100) It is also important to note that Atsumori does not beg for his life at Kumagai’s hands, nor does he appear to fear death, instead saying, “Just take my head and be quick about it!” though Kumagai had previously offered him a chance to escape before the other Genji warriors closed in (Watson, et. al. 99). Kumagai and Atsumori’s contrasting identities and their interactions together provide an anti-war message of the needlessly destructive nature of war. The gentle youth is destroyed meaninglessly and his music is taken with him. Kumagai can only seek solace and a way to repent by becoming a Buddhist monk in the end. As war tales such as Tales of Heike were often recorded from an oral tradition that involved the chanting of these stories by blind
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