Barrelmaker Brimful of Love

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“The Barrelmaker Brimful of Love”, by Ihara Saikaku, outlines this very nature. This novella is about a cooper who is in love with a girl, and with the help of an old lady, is married to the girl. The story ends with the girl, Osen, being wrongfully accused of having an affair with the master of the house, at which she volunteers to work. Osen responds to the accusation by planning to actually have an affair with the man. The two make arrangements to have sex, but just before they can, Osen’s husband catches them in the act. Osen kills herself, and the man flees the house naked and frightened, but is later executed as well.

Based on an actual event that took place a year before it was written, “The Barrelmaker Brimful of Love” is definitely a story of realism. The story embodies the essence of human nature on all accounts; the good, the bad, and the ugly. It drags you into the lives of characters that have seemingly ordinary lives with ups and downs. And just like real life is not one-sided, neither are the lives of the characters. The goodness of “Barrelmaker Brimful of Love” is that it contains themes of human nature throughout the story, such as community, selfishness, trust issues, religious beliefs, infidelity, and reputation.

The idea of community is captured a number of times throughout the story. The story opens up in the middle of a community event, the Tannabata Festival, where the old lady and the cooper meet. Immediately one senses a feeling of happiness, celebration, and togetherness between the citizens of the town in which the story takes place. There is also the dance, another community event, that the old lady attends just before she speaks to Osen’s master and mistress about the cooper’s love for Osen. The pilgrimage to Ise, where Osen and the cooper officially meet, is another community setting where lots of people are in celebration. There is also Chozaemon’s party, where a bunch of women agree to come together and help out with the...
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