Behind the Story of “Blood and Tears” – Social Class in the Edo Period
The initial friction between O-Hatsu and O-Bun arises from differences in their relative social status. Beginning in the 17th century and ending with the Meiji Restoration, people were categorized into roughly four social classes:farmers, merchants, samurai, craftsmen/artisans. (left-to-right in illustration)
In this acutely class-conscious environment, people would frequently look for additional factors that might improve their de-facto status relative to the rest of the community.
Officially, O-Hatsu and O-Bun belong to the same social class of townspeople; however O-Bun comes from a privileged upbringing due to her father’s wealth. Thus she benefited from lessons in poetry, dance, tea ceremony, flower arranging, fashion, literature and calligraphy.
Her attempts to order O-Hatsu around while they are camping out in the woods is meant to emphasize her superior standing based on these advantages.
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