Analysis of "Hateful Things" by Lady Sei Shonagon

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Analysis of "Hateful Things" by Lady Sei Shonagon

Lady Sei Shonagon

The rooster's crowing

In the middle of the night

Deceived the hearers;

But at Osaka's gateway

The guards are never fooled.


Hate"ful, a. 1. Manifesting hate or hatred; malignant; malevolent. [Archaic or R.]

And worse than death, to view with hateful eyes His rival's conquest. --Dryden.

2. Exciting or deserving great dislike, aversion, or disgust; odious.

Unhappy, wretched, hateful day! --Shak.

The daughter of a poet, Kiyohara no Motosuke, she became Lady-in-waiting to the Empress Sadako, who presided over a frivolous and witty court. Her life and style contrast with the serious tone of her contemporary Shikibu Murasaki. Her chief work is Makura no sashi (C (1000 - 1015)), a 'pillow book' or series of impressions, anecdotes, diary entries and written observations arranged by mood, such as 'annoying', 'amusing'. It is vivid, sarcastic, poetic and frank, and full of outspoken opinions.

Another piece of writing by Shonagon, “Hateful Things,” is short and to the point. Every paragraph in this essay is a situation given by Sei and then criticized. She has many things that she dislikes as she points out in this essay. At first when reading the essay you find it funny and just a way for her to get to a point, yet she just continues to bring up another thing that she hates and describes it a way that you too would understand and feel. Honestly, I had to agree with many of the situations that she offered and with that I found it very amusing and funny.

Shonagon starts “Hateful Things” with a scenario of one who is in a hurry to leave but one just continues to chat away. And then on top of this you cannot really ask the person to tell you about it some other time because this person deservers your respect and good behavior. Shonagon feels as this situation is very hateful and then is ready to start another situation. I personally liked this beginning. I recently had a similar encounter (as I often do because I have professors that I talk with everyday) so it was easy to find her point understandable and amusing.

The next situation given that stood out was “One is just about to be told some interesting piece of news when a baby starts crying” was one that I would think some uptight person would dislike, yet find it hateful? I would agree that it is annoying and can become agitating yet to become hateful? But as I looked up what the word “Hateful” I found that disliked was a prominent word in the meaning. I always found hate or hateful just such a harsh word as I have heard it to be a “terrible” word.

“A carriage passes with a nasty, creaking noise. Annoying to think that the passengers may not even be aware of this! If I am traveling in someone’s carriage and I hear it creaking, I dislike not only the noise but also the owner of the carriage.”

“One is in the middle of a story when someone butts in and tries to show that he is the only clever person in the room. Such a person is hateful, and so, indeed, is anyone, child or adult, who tries to push himself forward”

“One is telling a story about old times when someone breaks in with a little detail hat he happens to know, implying that one’s own version is inaccurate-disgusting behavior!”

Sei Shonagon continues to use such scenarios that she finds hateful. Each of them is amusing in that she finds it hateful when it is such a little deal yet it becomes disturbing in that someone can find so many little things hateful. Many things in this world annoy each and every one of us. Yet these things are things that bother all and are built in our genetics to find disturbing and hateful. These things are understandable as all of us relates yet when you find a person that can find the littlest of things annoying and upsetting you start to worry of that person. I just can’t understand why someone would be so hateful and dislike so many things!

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