Japanese Masterpiece

“The Tale of Genji” is a stunning success of Japanese literature written by Murasaki Shikibu, a lady born into the family of Fujiwara. Murasaki Shikibu wrote this masterpiece at the beginning of 11th century where it reveals a basic knowledge about Heian era of 794 to 1185 and the Tale of Genji. The masterpiece also provide readers with a clear understanding of Japanese culture through the Tale of Genji, which shows a gigantic influence on both Japanese arts and later literature. However, the main theme discussed in the Tale of Genji, is human emotions in relation to beauties of nature in Heian society.

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The first chapter clearly reveals the theme of human emotions in relation to beauties of nature. We find that the court emperor’s emotions get controlled by Kiritsubo’s beauty, to the extent that he even makes her his favorite wife. This, therefore, led to other emperor’s wives feeling jealous and performs several evil acts in order to destroy Kiritsubo. Indeed their acts succeed because Kiritsubo, who lacked strong family back up at the court, got ill and died in the scene. However, Kiritsubo’s bearing of a beautiful son by the named Genji, who seemed talented with ardor, made other wives more jealous because he would deny the emperor’s eldest son a chance of becoming the future crown prince. We also find that even as Genji grows up, he lacks maternal relatives that would support him as a crown prince at court despite being a royal blood. Instead, he is made an affiliate of the non royal clan of Genji, hence bearing the name Genji. The theme of human emotions was also identified later after the death of Kiritsubo, where the emperor looks for Fujitsubo, a new concubine, who according to him find to resemble Kiritsubo. This shows that the emperor still had the sweet memories of Kiritsubo.

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In the second chapter, Genji is seen as an uncommonly gifted and handsome young man respected by all people in the society. However, the theme of human emotions is identified where at the palace, Genji and To-no-Chujo, his brother-in-law, met in order to compare notes about women.  We also find that the guard officers together with other friends join them in the scene, in order to make suggestions of the beautiful women in the palace. However, they all come into a conclusion that a perfect woman has to be cultured and loyal, but submissive and willing to feign ignorance. This scenario shows that Genji and his friends had their emotions controlled by the beauty of the ladies around the palace. Afterwards, the scene shifts to Genji going home to his wife Aoi but gets invited by Kii-no-Kami in his house. He, therefore, meets Kii-no-Kami’s family and gets attracted to one of the daughters by the name Utsusemi. He waits until everyone has gone to sleep and breaks into the ladies apartment in order to get to her and propose his love for her. Utsusemi rebuffs Genji despite how many times he comes to her; this scenario continues throughout chapter three.                

However, Genji’s rashness, self centeredness, and insensitivity to the emotions of many women continues in chapter four and five until he meets a beautiful ten year old girl known as Murasaki, who reminds him of his mother. Genji develops an interest of knowing the girl, and after making some investigations, he realizes that the girl was, in fact, her mother’s niece. Through chapter six to ten, we find Genji getting Murasaki pregnant and decide to settle down with her and several other women at his Rokujo.

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In conclusion, this paper gives a clear description about The Tale of Genji with Genji being the main character. It also highlights “human emotions in relation to beauties of nature” as the main theme discussed in The Tale of Genji. However, the theme is clearly observed in different scenarios throughout chapter one to ten. It is observed during the incident where Genji’s mother died of illness and the scenario where Genji presents his rashness, self centeredness, and insensitivity to the emotions of many women.

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