Tale of Genji

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  • Topic: The Tale of Genji, Murasaki Shikibu, Woman
  • Pages : 3 (1029 words )
  • Download(s) : 263
  • Published : September 28, 2008
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Lady Murasaki introduces us to the Heian Period in Japan with her classic romantic novel entitled, The Tale of Genji. It is within these pages that she begins to unravel story after story of seductive love affairs always involving the hero and Prince, Genji. Genji is found in the second chapter reminiscing about “lost love” with his closest of friends. On this insightful rainy night, they are discussing the “ideal” woman and whether or not such a woman truly exists. To no Churo seems confident that there is no woman in whom one can say, “here is perfection (pg. 17),” but Genji, always the optimistic dreamer, wonders aloud if, “behind some gateway…should be locked away some creature of unimagined beauty (pg. 19).” It is during this discussion that Lady Murasaki hints to what the “ideal” woman really is and the qualities inherent in such a beauty. The following paragraphs will serve to shed light on the “ideal woman” within this novel and point us towards the “unimagined beauty” within Genji’s dreams. Genji expected the “unimagined beauty” to be from the upper class since this was the most desirable woman, however, middle class women were acceptable, as well. Lower class women were totally unacceptable because of his class, status, and rank. They were seen as undesirable. During this period in Japan, the beauty of a woman was captured in her flawless features, intelligence, faithfulness, and submissiveness. These were seen as the most desirable traits along with the craftiness of their writing style and the sensuous beauty of appearance, style, and grace. Women were expected to serve men submissively while being beautiful and fragile “like a flower” with no choice in who comes along to pluck them. This book revolves around Genji’s relationships and exploits with these women as he searches in vain for that “unimagined beauty.” All of the women he encounters along this journey are beautiful in their own ways with many admirable qualities, however, each has very...
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