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Gendered Roles in The Tale of Genji - Essay Example

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Institution Tutor The Tale of Genji Course/Number Date Department Introduction As a classic work of Japanese literature which is attributed to the lady-in-waiting and noblewoman Murasaki Shikibu, the Tale of Genji was written at the beginning of the 11th century, at a time when the Heian period was at the zenith…
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Gendered Roles in The Tale of Genji
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Gendered Roles in The Tale of Genji

Download file to see previous pages... Notable among themes is the illustration of unique livelihoods of high courtiers at the time of the Heian period. This illustration also qualifies the social constraints and liberties which men and women faced in the Heian period, as shall be seen forthwith. Social Constraints Which Compelled Elite Men and Women to Negotiate As Part of Their Privileged Status In the Tale of Genji, there are particular sorts of social constraints which compelled men and women to negotiate as part of a privileged status. In the Genji Monogatari, it is the concept and reality of class and class consciousness. She is not able to fit into the life in palace, despite being the queen, Lady Kiritsubo. As is provided for by Seidensticker, the grand ladies in the palace regard her as a presumptuous upstart while ladies who hold lesser or lower social standing than Lady Kiritsubo are resentful towards her. The gravity of this development is portrayed as being highly potent since the same affects the queen’s psychosocial life: she falls ill and becomes more frequently at home, than at the palace1. Again, it is indisputable that life’s natural courses are constraints and forces which compel men to negotiate as part of their privileged status. Since man must die, he has to genetically propagate himself and his genes. Marriage is the environment in which propagation is done, and love is the force which creates this environment and also sustains it. To get into marriage, all like Emperor Kiritsubo had to negotiate with their fiances or girlfriends. Despite the glaring disparity of fortunes, Emperor Kiritsubo falls in love with Lady Kiritsubo, marries her and sires Genji with her. At a certain point, Emperor Kiritsubo, Emperor Suzaku, Kokiden, Lady Fujitsubo and Genji die. One of these constraints is the integration of individuals to their occupation, in lieu of their personality and character. To this effect, none of the characters in the original texts are assigned explicit names. All characters are referred to, in relation to their roles, their social standing and the relations that these characters have with other characters. This is the case so that there is the Minister to the Left, His Excellency and the Heir-Apparent, respectively2. While this development above may soothe the ego of aristocrats and people with reputable occupations, it may also serve as a source of stigma to those who are less privileged in the society. In the same wavelength, referring to people by their character may subject the same to prejudice and stigma too strong to allow them the power and chance to reform. Anyone who is always and consistently referred to as a thief may not see the need to reform as that label is permanently stuck on him. The same may also entrench classicism since those who are poor and weak in the society are referred to as such. The elite are always referred to by their honorifics and thereby entrenching their sense of self importance. The Greatest Sources of Freedom (Or Joy) and the Greatest Constraints on Individual Identity That Men And Women Faced In This Age, As Seen In the Novel Some of the greatest freedoms which men and women enjoy in the Heian Period are biologically induced, meaning that because of biological reasons, certain ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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