Friday, May 29, 2015

The Crane Wife

The Crane Wife, an old Japanese folk tale, deals with issues of misogyny, sympathetic imagination and anthropomorphism. In The Crane Wife, an old man lives a lonely life making sails, longing for someone to share his life with. The man lives as a bachelor until one day a woman comes to his home and, while the man sleeps, she begins work on a new set of sails. The woman works tirelessly for the rest of the day until finally the sails are completed. The old man decides to take the woman as a bride and they live, happily married, for a while until the man and woman were asked to make another sail. The woman reluctantly agrees to make another sail. This sail was even better than the last and was sold for double. Eventually thought the money ran out and the weaver was commissioned to make another sail. The weaver asked his wife to please make him another amazing sail and she reluctantly agreed. After three days of being locked in the room, tirelessly working, the man eventually forced open the door and saw instead of his wife, a huge crane operating the loom with her claws and pulling her own feathers out to feed the loom. The crane turned and looked at the weaver through his wife's black eyes before turning and flying out the window.
The Japanese folk tale, The Crane Wife, criticizes humans treatment of animals, more specifically the practice of using animals to improve human life with little or no regard to animal life. However, in The Crane Wife, the subjugation of animals is expressed through the weavers subjugation of his wife.  The weaver asks his wife many times to make him another sail even though he knows that she doesn't want to. When the weaver asks his wife to make the second sail she says that creating the sails "takes so much out of [her]," but despite this she makes the sail for the weaver. Animals lack the ability to say that what humans do to them in research labs, and in factory farms take so much out of these animals, often to the point of taking the animals life. In the past, and still sadly to this day, woman are expected, by some, to serve men with out question or complaint much like an animal who cannot question or complain about the treatment they receive at the hands of humans.

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