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Example research essay topic: Questions On The Tale Of The Heike - 1,760 words

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1. Taira no Shigemori and the Emperor Takakura have a great deal in common. They are related, because Kiyomori wife's sister is Takakura's mother. Both are very benevolent towards the people of their country. When Shigemori stopped Kiyomori from attacking the Cloistered Palace and kept the country in peace, the cloistered Emperor said, " It is not the first time that Shigemori has shown his greatness. Even so, what a lordly lord he is! He has repaid my plot against his family with kindness" (116).

In addition, Shigemori promises Naritsune that "I will risk my life to save you" (98). Although, Naritsune was involved in plot against the Taira family for the second time. The tale says, "this emperor [Takakura] had revived benevolence and justice" (348) and "had always been courteous and polite" (349). Throughout Takakura's short life, he has always been praying for peace and prosperity of the people in his land. As an Abdicated Emperor, he made frequent trips to the Itsukushima shrine to pray for peace and stability. He has shown compassion towards his servants and people that surround him.

The burning of Todai-ji and Kofuku-ji temples enormously contributed to his death, which came shortly after the incident. Similarly, Shigemori was a deeply religious man too. The tale says, "Shigemori had been a pious man, with profound wish to lighten the burden of his sins and live a good life" (201). He demonstrated the above quality by building a temple at the foot of Higashi-Yama and placed forty-eight lanterns. Kiyomori considered him to be "[] a man who was innocent of Five Cardinal Crimes. He [Shigemori] never failed to observe the Five Cardinal Virtues, and so he was courteous and polite in all his dealings" (109). However, Shigemori is different from Takakura in the way he deals with the Priest-Premier.

Shigemori on numerous occasions successfully advises his father on the political matters. For instance, when he convinced his father not to attack the Imperial Palace, in order to banish the cloistered emperor to the North Palace of Toba. On the contrary, Takakura chooses not to go against Kiyomori word. Even when Kiyomori forced Kogo to take the tonsure, the Emperor Takakura did not stop him. Furthermore, Shigemori was a great general, while Takakura could not efficiently run the country. Shigemori and Takakura's deaths are very similar, since neither one lived the full span of their lives. Both died of "karmic death" and not of natural deaths. Takakura died from despair concerning the dreadful state of his country. Shigemori asked the Kumano Gods to shorten his life if his family is not meant to prosper in future generations. Thus, he also died of the horrible state into which Kiyomori had brought the country.

2. Both of the women presented in the Tale of Heike had similar fate, because of their talents. Kiyomori picked Lady Gio due to her skill in the white suit dance. The tale says, "Their [Gio and Ginyo] skill in the white-suit dance was acclaimed throughout the capital" (21). While Emperor chose Kogo, because "she was proclaimed the most beautiful lady and the finest koto player in the palace" (355). Moreover, both of the ladies are forced (directly, or indirectly) by the Priest-Premier to take the tonsure at a young age and leave the capital.

Both women go to wilderness to serve Buddha and eventually reach Pure Land and achieve Nirvana. The major difference between Gio and Kogo is how their men feel about them. Takakura was sincerely in love Gio and was willing to hide her from the Priest-Premier as long as he could. During that time, she had his daughter. The tale says that Takakura's separation from Kogo was one of the causes of emperor's illness and subsequent death. However, Kiyomori extremely quickly changed his favor from Gio to Lady Buddha after being with her for three years. Perhaps he easily substituted Lady Buddha with another white suit dancer, thus showing absolutely no feelings towards either of the women.

Unfortunately, both Lady Gio's sister and her mother became nuns and left the capitol with her. On the other hand, Kogo's daughter becomes known as Princess Bomon-no-Nyoin. 3. The Tale of Heike is centered around the Priest-Premier Kiyomori, who is an extremely interesting character. The reader watches him rise to power, rule the country, destroy temples, kill and exile people, mourn his son, and finally like all things come to an end. The tale narrator presents Kiyomori as a negative force that does not have too many redeeming values. Although in his youth, Kiyomori earned the title of Priest-Premier by being faithful and loyal to the Emperor, he increasingly abuses his power.

His first major triumph was enthroning his relative, a five-year-old Takakura. Priest Saiko said, "Heaven has no mouth, but it speaks through men's lips. Since the prosperity of the Heike has gone beyond measure, perhaps the people's speech against them is heaven inspired"(41). Later, Kiyomori kills Priest Saiko and his whole family, because he was involved in Narichike's plot against the Heike. He exiles the other people that were involved in the plot to Kikaigasaima. Furthermore, Kiyomori does not respect the Imperial Law and does not follow the principles of Confucius, which state that "Even if an emperor does not behave as an emperor, subjects must behave as subjects" (116). It is demonstrated when Kiyomori, who is a priest, wanted send his army to banish the cloistered Emperor Go-Shirakawa to the North Palace of Toba, because he was part of the conspiracy against the Heike.

Kiyomori only cares for his family's prosperity. During the consort's pregnancy, he pardoned Naritsune and Priest Yasuyori in hopes that the Goddess would grant him a Prince. Kiyomori would not have granted them a pardon under any other circumstances and refused to pardon Shunkan, although a general amnesty was given to everyone when a Prince was born. As Kiyomori gets older, he becomes even more power hungry. The only person that dares to disagree with him is his son, Lord Shigemori. Mongaku said, "Among the Heike, Shigemori alone was a man of strong will and brilliant mind.

Now the Heike are doomed to fall, for Shigemori died in the eighth month of last year"(322). After his son's death, Kiyomori sees that his family has lost Emperor's favor and is afraid that the Heike's prosperity will cease. Thus, Priest-Premier secures the cloistered Emperor Go-Shirakawa in his North Palace of Toba, while "he brings the peace to the country" (216). He does not realize that by the above act, he destroys the order of Japanese society and becomes a threat to the Emperor. To make things worse, he forces a seven year old Prince to take the tonsure, kills the second son of the cloistered Emperor, burns the temples of Mii-Dera, Todai-ji, and Kofuku-ji and his army kills about 4500 people. One of the only noble acts that Kiyomori did was to go to the Cloistered Palace and ask for a private audience with the Emperor concerning the exile of the chief priest of Tendai sect Mei-Un.

However, the Emperor refused to see him and "bitterly dissappointed, Kiyomori went away"(78). Although, Kiyomori attempted to speak on Mei-Un's behalf, he did not provide him any help. Kiyomori dies of a very unusual death, which shows that he will be going to "hell" for the evil deeds that he has done during his life. The burning fever that kills him is so high that it causes the water to boil. The evil nature of Kiyomori even shows on his deathbed, when instead of praying for forgiveness, he says, "When I die, do not build a temple or pagoda. Do not perform any ceremonies for me. Instead you must send an army at once to vanquish Yorimoto; you must cut off his head and hang it before my tomb"(369).

3. Mount Hiei is located a few miles northeast of the Imperial Palace. Due to its proximity to the Imperial Palace and the aggressive character of the monks, the warrior monks often came down the mountain with their holy symbols to voice their requests. Shirakawa once said, The only things that I cannot control are the waters of the Kamo River, the flow of the dice, and the monastic armies from Mount Hiei (60). Many influential people for various reasons used the services performed by monks on Mount Hiei. For instance, Emperor Takakura asked the monks to pray for Kenshi-no-Chugu to bear him a prince.

The main significance to The Tale of Hieke was depicted in the Book I. When the priests of Mount Hiei appealed to the Emperor Go-Shirakawa to banish Governor Morotaka of Kaga Providence and imprison Vice-Governor Morotsune, the captain of the Police Commissioners Division. The Emperor did not reply and the monks came down the mountain carrying the holy symbols. Many priest were injured in the battle and arrows struck the holy symbols. Understanding their defeat, the priests went back to Mount Hiei. They wanted to set fire to many temples to protest against the outrages, but the Emperor decided to send the messenger that calmed them down and agreed to their wishes. Kofuku-ji was one of the Fujiwara family temples that are located in Nara, which is about 25 miles south of Kyoto.

It was one of the more powerful Buddhist temples and was supposed to provide after-life and protection to the state. As a tradition, Kofuku-ji took part in the funeral procession and hanging of the funeral tablets. The dispute arose when Enryaku-ji broke the precedent by hanging their tablet before Kofuku-ji during late Emperor Nijo's funeral. Consequently, a monk from Nara cut down the tablet and broke it into pieces. As revenge the monks from Mount Hiei burned down a branch of Kofuku-ji, the Kiyomizu Temple. A few years later, Kiyomori's army burned down the Temple of Kofuku-ji and Todai-ji when the monks rose up against the Heike.

However, these temples will rise once again. On the 2nd day of the 6th month of 1179, Kiyomori ordered the relocation of the capital to Fukuhara. Fukuhara is located at some distance north from Kyoto and is separated by mountains, Kamo, and Katsura rivers. The tale tells us that "to the north of Fukuhara rose high mountain range and to the south the land sloped down to the sea. Waves roared incessantly along the shore; the salty wind shrieked"(338). Kiyomori's primary reason for moving the capital was protection from monks of Mount Hiei and the temples of Nara. However, the people did not like Fukuhara, because it lacked elegance. Two years later Priest-Premier surrendered to the appeals of people and ordered the return to the old capital. Bibliography:.

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