The Boxwood Comb
This chapter features Okada Yachiyo's The Boxwood Comb. An expression of Yachiyo's own reservations regarding the institution of marriage, the play was undoubtedly written as a kind of response to A Doll House. The vector of Yachiyo's play is diametrically opposed to Ibsen's, in that its heroine, Otsuna, is not afraid to speak her mind or kick against the constraints of her marriage. Where Nora balks at her suffocating bourgeois life with Torvald, Otsuna has already been cast out but is desperate to return to her husband, expressing at one point the old-fashioned longing to feel what it is like, even for one day, to sit in the family shop, managing the household accounts. For this reason, although Otsuna has been considered an Ibsenesque “new woman,” the play appears to be more the tragedy of a woman who cannot become a “new woman.”
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