Ideal Men &Women of the Heian Court based on “The Tale of Genji”

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The world famous “Genji Monogatari,” or “The Tale of Genji,” written by Lady Murasaki Shikibu, describes Heian court life in Japan and entails various romantic escapades performed by the main character Genji. Genji is born to the Emperor and a lower ranked lover, Kiritsubo. Even as a newborn child everyone thought Genji was incredibly beautiful and was eventually given the name “shining prince” because of his amazing appearance. Unfortunately, the name “Genji” refers to the fact that he is of royal blood, but he can never become the emperor. As the story progresses readers see that the name “Genji” doesn’t impede him when it comes to getting the ladies. So, why do women love Genji so much? He may be handsome, but he’ll never become the …show more content…
These men are of high-ranking families so it is rather intriguing that they would want a woman from below, but it also makes sense. In a statement made by Tō no Chujō, Genji’s best friend, he explains that the high class women are pampered their entire lives and therefore tend to be stuck up as well as a lot of their real personality is hidden, while a middle class woman is likely to be easier to read and one can see what she can offer (22). For these court men it seems that the middle class is where they can find a woman that intrigues their curiosity as well as have nothing to hide because of their family background. Later in the same chapter the Chief suggests, “It is probably not a bad idea to take a wholly childlike, tractable wife and form her yourself as well as you can. She may not have your full confidence, but you will know your training has made a difference” (24-25). This suggestion actually foreshadows the relationship Genji has with Murasaki later in his life. That relationship he has with Murasaki is probably the best out of all the women Genji encounters. Their mutual idea of the “perfect woman” is actually neither perfect nor useless: the middle. The perfect woman should love her man, yet not become jealous when he doesn’t give her enough attention or sleeps with other women; have some amount of intelligence, but never show it off; never be too easy, but don’t play hard to get. These

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