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Changing representation of female ghosts

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            Ghost stories have been an eminent theme within the literature of Japan, when the exceptional social and economic scenarios emerged during the start of the Edo period around the 17th century, ghost stories imagery and motifs started gaining eminence, suddenly becoming a practical theme in the universe of Ukiyo-e establishing itself as a dignified imagery via assistance from kabuki staging methods, social conventions and religious values. After sufficient stability was realized, the ghost’s stories then together with other arts literary, in the end experienced a conducive environment to prosper. Within the early years, symbolized my military dominance, civil warfare and diverse conflicts, had a rough environment for the growth, creation and dissemination of works of art. The social surrounding needed for this cultural development was aided by increasing business class with the power of fathering folk culture in the several types of literature, theater and art.

            The female ghost is a fundamental figure among films in Asia. It is so much common in Asia, specifically the Southern parts as vampires or zombies among movies in the west. The female ghost rampages across homes, cinema halls and schools terminating anybody that stands on her way. Films such as Shutter (2004), Ju-on (2000), Ringu (1998) among others have all significant instances of the female ghost. She is depicted similarly all along normally long hair black in color on her face with a gown or dress that is white in color.

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            In Asian culture, female culture has existed for a long while. In China it relates to some worship ancestor and there are several classes and types of ghost. In Korea, three kingdoms back, there were already ghost stories that had been documented while in Japan female ghosts were witnessed in literature during the feudal period. Despite being common to three distinct cultures, there are several correlations to ghost stories.

            While coming from three different cultures there are many similarities to the ghost stories. All three countries have very specific rituals for dealing with the dead to ensure the eternal happiness of the spirit of the departed. If those rituals aren’t observed, the spirit will come back to haunt the living. Ghosts are also the product of spirits succumbing to strong negative emotions that keep them here in the corporeal world. Asian women seem to be much more reserved and are anticipated as more submissive to their male counterparts. Regardless of their lives successes, if they are not married of by the age of 25 the society still considers them failures. Female ghosts are hence sighs of Asian women going past there oppressions and doing away with the conventional patriarchal societies.

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            The most common similarity of female ghosts of the Edo and Muromachi periods is her appearance. Within these two periods, the female ghost has always been depicted similarly, white gown or dress, black long hair and some hidden face. The white dress representing conventional funeral garb for the deceased, the long hair appears much sophisticated but has been copied from Kabuki Theater. The wig black in color lets the viewers instantly understand who the character is. The long hair signifies beliefs of possessing magical powers in folklore that symbolizes the religious perspective of the individual.

            Another aspect is that in both periods the female ghost is projected by explicit feelings but lacks her humanity. She has no remorse, compassion or love. Despite the female ghost commonly projected by negative feelings and desire for revenge, such feelings result from the painful experiences which can be easily understood by female viewers. While afraid of the female ghosts, the audiences to some extent also empathize with such circumstances for its rampage. Some even pity them so much. The ghosts therefore symbolize rejection, pain, loss and betrayal emotions which easily draw sympathy from female audiences. In a wider domain, the female ghosts also symbolize the political and social anxieties within the societies that are patriarchal and cause of the pain.      

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             The other similarity between the female ghosts within these two periods is that the female ghosts rarely hurt men who cause pains within the lives. On the other hand, they cause pain to other persons who either have some correlation to their revenge targets or just coincidentally stand on their paths. There are instances when women having extra marital affairs with men that are married disappear. Persons that have been in close contact from their disappearances also perish in horrifying incidences while the subject man remains safe from the female ghost.

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