Essay Preview: Genji Case
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The son of the Emperor and Kiritsubo, Genji is marked from his birth as extraordinary in every way. Because of weak maternal backing (Kiritsubo was of the lower ranks of court), the Emperor deems Genji a commoner. Ironically, the Korean fortune-teller who predicts, and thus helps seal, this fate also deems the boy, “The Shining Genji.” Genjis natural beauty, combined with his cultivated skills in all the arts, makes him incomparably charming. It explains, in part, Genjis great success with women. He marries Lady Aoi at an early age but never has a meaningful relationship with her. He pursues Fujitsubo, his fathers principal wife after Kiritsubo, and eventually impregnates her. Their offspring, the future Emperor Reizei, is passed off as the son of the Emperor. This and other similar events demonstrate the way future generations repeat the mistakes of their ancestors. Genji grooms Murasaki to be his perfect wife. Murasaki, like Fujitsubo, represents a substitute for his dead mother. Along the way, Genji has countless other romantic affairs and never forgets his women. He often gets into trouble as a result of inappropriate interludes, especially with Oborozukiyo. This affair leads to his exile in Suma. As he grows older, Genjis complexes grow to accommodate his many wives, concubines, old loves, and many children. This loyalty seems to arise from Genjis great sympathy for humanity. But in the spirit of mono no aware, Genji also understands too deeply the fleeting quality of earthly things. Through it all, Genjis one true love remains Murasaki. Soon after her death, Genji too passes away, and the implication seems to be that society from that point on is in decline.