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Word Count: 464
In all of Akutagawafs rather dark themed short stories which were assigned there was clearly a strong emphasis placed on the supernatural In the conclusion of the first story gThe Clownfs Maskh I got the impression that what initially seemed to be a harmless comic mask could possibly have been haunted and not of this world and was eerily portrayed as the cause of the main characterfs death In gThe Immortalh images of the afterlife found in the Shrine of the Mountain Deity eg the Assistant Prefect the Little Devil add to the storyfs supernatural theme However most of all the inclusion of the haggard old man who is actually not of this world and this characterfs act of turning the paper into silver and gold coins were rather strong symbols of Akutagawafs focus on the mystical In gRasho Gateh the man initially respects the corpses found inside the structure and sees the woman as a very evil person for disturbing the dead It is not until the woman confesses that she must raid the corpses in order to survive that the man decides to rob the woman of her clothes This greater respect for the dead rather than another human is a rather interesting aspect of the story Finally in the story gWithin a Groveh it should be mentioned that the account of incident in the grove given by the deceased husband is introduced with the title gThe tale of the spirit as told through a mediumh As is mentioned in the bookfs introduction Akutagawafs fascination with the macabre and ghost stories of the Edo Period since his childhood undoubtedly influenced his writing Other than the assigned readings the only other work of Akutagawafs Ifve had the chance to read has been gThe Spiderfs Threadh Kumo no Ito However in this story as well there is substantial emphasis placed on the supernatural Akutagawa describes the afterlife and especially hell in rather ghastly detail
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