Yoru no tsuzumi (Night Drum/The Adulteress)

“When Hikokuro, vassal to the Lord of Tottori, returns home from the year's enforced residence in Edo, he is troubld by rumors that his wife, Otane, has committed adultery with a visiting drum teacher. Otane had been acquitted by a family council, but the truth relentlessly pursues Hikokuro, and leaves him with no alternative: Otane must die, the family must carry out an official vendetta.

“Chikamatsu's version of an actual incident of adultery within the samurai class is a treatise on personal inadequacy in dealing with the rigors of a moral code that does not recognize mitigating circumstances. Imai's treatment, presaging Bushido-Samurai Saga and The Revenge, is a highly realistic condemnation of the feudal system which prevents the family from protecting its individual members by legally preventing any individual discretion in any action. Hashimoto and Shindo, using Hashimoto's flashback narrative construction, greatly expanded and liberally interpreted the play. The result is a somewhat manipulated plot which emphasizes the family's collusion with the feudal system to bring the guilty party to justice in order to protect itself. Imai's Night Drum, in contrast to the original play, is a concerted effort to condemn the family as the source, rather than as the victims, of the oppressive system which maintained order by means of joint legal responsibility and by dictating the details of life so rigidly that there could be no room for individual discretion. But adultery is merely a superficial reason for Otane's fall. What cannot be ignored is that her fall was due to ambition, to the unconscious complicity of herself and her immediate family with the system: her husband and son accept the social order and try to succeed within it. But it is Otane who is left to deal with the consequences. In the Japanese dramaturgical rhetorical system, internalization of this repressive social order as a value system always leads the individual to destruction.”

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