The Tale of Genji Paper
The great theme of The Tale of Genji is the success or failure to regain one's birthright. Chapters 1-33 are a success story in which a main male hero, Prince Genji, becomes an Emperor emeritus and thus regains his birthright as the son of an Emperor. Chapters 34-41 chronicle the breakdown of the success story of the previous chapters by addressing the potentiality of failure in Prince Genji's marriages, and in his relationships with his children, other women, and some other men. The final Chapters 44-54 are a story of failure to live up to one's birthright. The style of writing practiced by the sole author of The Tale of Genji , Lady Murasaki Shikibu, is one of increasing degrees of irony, that is, from straight narration of events in chronological time, termed diachronic progression in Chapters 1-33, to more complex stages of narration termed synchronic progression in which the importance of events in time gives way to a world of thoughts and emotions known only in part by characters, narrators, and readers, and not necessarily to all those who live in the text. In Chapters 34-41, the reader begins to know more about the characters and their relationships than they do individually. The potentiality of failure as a theme is well-supported by a writing style in which characters and events are not always as they seem to be, that is, what happens is what only seems to be happening, and the real nature of characters and events lies beyond the actual time and space of the narrative. Finally, Murasaki's irony turns, in the last chapters, 44-54, chiefly to an examination of what goes on in characters' minds, far removed from the straight narration of the first sections of this long work. Often what is going on in the character's minds is narrated as musing, referred to as interior monologue. Though this sort of narration occurs with increasing frequency in the chapters relating to the first year of Genji's life at the...
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