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The floating world is a concept that best describes escapism in the play. The writer of the play uses this concept to highlight the characters desires and fears. The floating world though it should be blissful, does not always meet the expectations of its frequent visitors. The teahouse in the play represents this world. These teahouses do not sell tea per se but offer other services as well to a willing buyer. The author's identify these teahouses as places where a man can buy moments of happiness. Sake, a form of brew sold here and with it comes the choice of what to indulge in. Women in the society represented in the play have the identity of property and can be dispensed with as one pleases. The said owners of these women use them as a source of pleasure to other men who are willing to pay a fee.
The floating world in the play does not provide pleasure and happiness. It is evident that as much as pleasure is to be found in these places for some people, for others it is the source of their pain and misery. The author is indifferent to the floating world in the play. He has clearly shown the floating world represented by the teahouse in the play, to be a source of suffering rather than of pleasure. If at all pleasure is to be found in these establishments, it is short lived. Men go to the teahouse looking for a moment's pleasure only to leave with a lifetime of pain. However, the women in the floating world establishments are the providers of pleasure they rarely receive the same. Their masters have obligated them to so with disregard to their feelings. The men who are at the receiving end of these services are selfish. They do not care that they have wives at home waiting on them. Their actions end up causing more pain and suffering to their families.
The author feels that as much as the teahouse provides a means of enjoyment in this society they are the cause of domestic strife and tragedies. He explores the feeling of love between a prostitute and her client and the resulting consequences of such a feeling. The women providing services in the teahouse are not devoid of feelings. Expected to provide enjoyment to their clients without complaint and should oblige to their every demand. People seem to forget that they too are in need of attention as individuals with feelings and emotions of their own. The author feels that family is a vital institution which, by all means, should be held above all else. He asserts this fact by illustrating family as bound by blood, which is thicker than anything else.
The sacrifices that families make on one's behalf cannot be expected to be found anywhere else. A family's well being should be a priority in a man's life. This is not always the case as illustrated by the play. It is the authors feeling that love does not choose, and it can afflict anyone. He is of the view that as much as love brings happiness it is the source of the most painful suffering. It can also result in death of the involved parties. If love is prohibited or denied then it becomes toxic to the extent of catastrophic results. A person in love is capable of being selfless and can make any sacrifice to save a loved from anything, even if the subject of their feelings does not reciprocate their love.
The floating world has affected the main characters indifferent ways. Jihei the man in the love triangle becomes affected by this world to the extent of neglecting his own family. He does not seem to notice his wife and two children. His mind affected by his love for Koharu the call girl. His daily life revolves around the love he feels for. He does not seem to care for his family. The excitement of his affair with Koharu clouds his mind. He pledges to redeem Koharu from her master. The fact that he has a rival who is more wealthy and single makes his agitation to be more aggressive. The floating world in his case brings more anguish than pleasure. His love for Koharuis not legitimate since his marriage to Osan is in effect, and Koharu's bond to serve her master unless she finds redemption. Jihei promises to redeem her from her master and in the event he fails to, commit suicide together.
When he discovers that Koharu has a samurai customer, he goes to eaves drop on their conversation. His surprise is to hear that she never intended to fulfill her promise of committing suicide with him. This revelation makes him to be devastated and angry. The effects of this news make him suicidal, and he tries to kill her (Haruo 150). This attempt on her life makes him realize that it was his brother who had disguised himself as a samurai in her company. The floating world does not bring any happiness to Jihei. He is devoid of any peace in his mind the fact that his wife has sacrificed a lot for him does not ease his guilty conscience, and her sympathy to his predicament makes him feel unworthy of her. Her eventual divorce from him sends him back to his earlier resolve to commit suicide with Koharu.
Osan, wife to Jihei is mostly affected by the floating world. Her husband is in love with another woman and neglects her to attend to the other woman. She feels humiliated by her husband for paying attention to another woman especially one who sells herself to other men for money. Her close family ties with her husband notwithstanding makes her feel the blunt of his actions even more. She has his children whom she feels he should pay close attention to her. His activities at the teahouse not a secret to the villagers make it to be more humiliating. She takes matters in her own hands and decides to confront the problem in her marriage (Shively).
The floating world to her symbolizes the ultimate betrayal and misery. Her husband refuses to attend to his duties as a husband bound to his wife. Her intervention in her husband's affair brings about the climax to her marriage. She feels the rift between her and her husband widening and in a bid to rescue her marriage. She writes aletter to Kohaji explaining her position, and in effecting her plan, she invites her husband's brother to help her (Haruo 152 - 153). Her plan bears fruit though short lived. On realizing that her rival woman is about to be redeemed by her husband's rival and the effect the news has on him, she decides to help him redeem her. She sacrifices everything she has for his sake despite the consequences that her actions might have on her position in his life (Haruo 159 -161). Her devotion to him and their children, a fact that her husband realizes a little too late. Her father demands that she divorce him and return home with him. She has no choice but to oblige to this since her husband has ruined his life with his illicit love affair with Kohaji. The floating world destroyed her life with her husband as well as her dream of them becoming a family.
Kohaji on the other hand, being of the floating world face the brutal reality of misery associated with that world. She is regarded as a piece of property by her master who can be used to make profits. Her service in the floating world is not of her choosing but of her masters choosing until such a time her redeemer materializes. She knows too well that her love for jihei will never amount to anything unless he redeems her. She is aware that her fate lies with the man who will redeem her first including Jihei's rival, Tahei (Haruo 144 -145). Her love for jihei spells doom because he is a married man and he lacks the capacity to redeem her from her bondage. She feels the dejection of her position and the discrimination that haunts her because of her profession. A person has no respect for her and is viewed as a tool, which once used its discarded.
She feels lucky to be loved by jihei and is willing to die for him. When his wife writes, she obliges to her request. She is willing to sacrifice herself to save his family. The floating world to her is a place of slavery where she has no voice but do as commanded by her masters. Her life finds significance in her suicide with jihei. She feels overwhelmed by emotions when in symbolism Jihei cuts all ties he had previously with his wife and decides to commit suicide as a free man. This makes her feel unique and more obliged to him. Her suicide alongside him gives her the escape she hoped for. In the experience of the characters, the floating world does not offer much happiness rather it causes much suffering and pain to them.