The Tattooer

Essay by holsclawmCollege, UndergraduateB+, October 2014

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Morgan Holsclaw 9/20/2014

ENGL 2400

Art, Beauty and Power in The Tattooer

Junichiro 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...