Intertextuality in Fumiko Enchi's "Masks"

Essay by this_is_me96College, UndergraduateA, December 2003

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In a million different situations a person hides behind a character. This character becomes known as personality to the people who witness it. Yet the character changes. At a party the character presents itself in one way, whereas in class there is a different character. These characters can be called masks and just as you change your appearance for one situation or another you can change your mask. This idea of masks is an American one, yet it plays into how we as American's read and interpret Enchi's novel, Masks.

Just as our own thoughts of Masks plays into how we interpret the text there are many other aspects that play a part in revealing the plot, making connections, and understanding character development. Fumiko Enchi uses this idea of intertextuality-intermingle while weaving in many different ways. She derived a lot of character development through the Tale of Genji. Especially with Mieko's character and connection with the Rokojo Lady.

She placed "An Account of the Shrine in the Fields" as well as a complete letter within the text pausing the narrative flow for that moment. But these moments tell us much. What interested me most was how Enchi intermingled Noh Theater into her novel.

Coming into the class I knew nothing of Japanese poetry, theater, or literature. After studying it briefly and then reading Masks I was able to take away much more from the novel than if I had just read it cold. The portion on Noh and the continuation of understanding of the masks of Noh are an integral part of the reading of the novel. Enchi uses them to give us hints about the characters of the novel, to take a good look at women in Japanese culture, and to give the written words some flavor reminiscent of...