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Tale of Genji: Lavendar Analysis

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Nash England

GHS 205 | Smith


        As we open on the story of “Lavender,” a bout of malaria has stricken Genji. Knowing of a sage who provides treatment for such ailments, Genji takes a journey out to the northern hills to meet this immobile healer.  After spending time with the sage and his assortment of medicines and spells, a newly revived Genji takes a step to survey the valley below him. While gazing outward, he spots a spot most interesting, one that strikes his fancy. A secluded house sat nearby; a house which, as his scouts inform him, just so happens to be occupied by multiple attractive women casually caring for their flowers.

         If Genji were a balanced individual, he might pass these strangers with a slight glance as he continued on his way; obviously this doesn’t happen. The vernal 10-year-old, Murasaki comes into Genji’s view and immediately becomes his focus of attention. Murasaki has the most striking resemblance to Fujitsubo (71) and this is a coincidence that Genji could not take lightly. He sat mesmerized by this child, held motionless by the thought of this girl, fully grown. How striking she must be in a few years’ time? The cogs of the scene align as Genji learns of Murasaki’s lineage; direct offspring of the Prince Hyobu and their relation to Fujitsubo.

Stricken so fervently by this young woman, Genji attempts to open a line of dialogue with her through his most trusted skill, poetry. The not only the older women, but also governing bishop, recommend the logical behavior of not courting a child, the ever direful determination of Genji advances. Defending himself by claim of false intention, Genji deflects the retorts from the women and bishop. A defeated Genji retires to where he once came from, unable to establish contact with his juvenile obsession.

        Time passes; Genji is presented with resentment and disgust by Aoi, rightfully so, and eventually lays with Fujitsubo. Moving forward, we see that Genji has unfortunately received the most joyous of news: Murasaki has taken residence within the city. Unknowing of where he came from or who he is, a presentation of distance is initially offered. Under duress, Murasaki pleads with a caretaker, Shonagon that she is haggard and desires to retire in an attempt at removing herself from Genjis’ crosshairs.

Leaving the area, Murasaki strides to attempted safety with Genji following closely. Shonagon pleads with Genji to recognize the infancy of this girl, yet he pays no mind (95).  Providing her with dolls and toys, Genji lessens the fear provided by a strange man in the girls’ home, yet the lack of any comfort remains. Given the lack of presence from her own, Genji expresses his desire to serve as a paternal figure for Murasaki.

We witness the untimely death of the girl’s grandmother. As he should, her father, Prince Hyobu, wants to have her come live with him. Genji obviously opposes this notion, because then this child wouldn’t be available for his clawing advances. In the birth of a new day, Genji lets himself into her home and past her, rightfully disturbed, caretakers. Murasaki expresses her concern for not being received by her father and Genji presses his agenda of being her new father. In the most but also not so subtle attempts at kidnapping, Genji steals away this weeping child to be taken home at the Nijo palace. We see a gradual acceptance of Genji in the eyes of Murasaki towards the closing and was provided with many new toys and friends. Murasaki may well be at peace with this change of scenery; only time will tell.

We see a portrayal of how Genji views women in this chapter. The relationship between Genji and Muraski is completely established by domination and oversight. Genji is controlled by his tunnel vision and only relieves his quest to pay visits to the other women in his life with whom he might lay. Considering our timeline here, we can see exactly how aggressive the behavior was. We begin with an initial attempt at introduction between two strangers, who have no business being acquainted. Murasaki sees the strange nature of this and builds a wall between herself and her predator.

This isn’t an isolated incident either, that might forgive some small portion of this comprehensive predation. The premeditated rapacious behavior that we see from Genji truly delves into who this character is. We have been given information in the past chapters that allow us to get a glimpse at the overarching personality of this celebrity but it’s these situations, these behind-closed-doors scenarios, that give us the horrifying truth behind who this man is.

        There is no cooperation amongst the fellow characters either. If we had seen any evidence of agreement, then we might be able to pass this horror story off as a theme. Yet, we see, even within Genji’s own ranks, a recognizable hesitation to act and allow this to continue. Everyone that he comes into contact with; the bishop, the nun, Shonagon, the grandmother, and everyone else separating the pair, confront Genji multiple times. They express their desire to wait until she is of age, and leave this child be.



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