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The Tale of Genji Essay

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In the following excerpt, Bargen considers the social implications of the episodes of spirit possession in

The Tale of Genji, suggesting that "they can be viewed as a female protest against the polygyny of Heian Society."

The Japanese national classic, Murasaki Shikibu's Genji monogatari, is chiefly valued for its exquisitely drawn psychological character portrayals and detailed realistic descriptions of tenth century Heian court life. Yet the work also contains highly dramatic episodes and animated scenes of spirit possession. One of the most memorable scenes occurs in a minor episode in which Higekuro's wife dumps ashes on her husband's head. She is violently enraged by the prospect of being ousted from her position as principal wife by a new mistress, and she is possessed. According to the Heian practice of polygyny, she was expected to tolerate another woman joining the household, and therefore her indignant and undignified behavior is...

(read more from the Critical Essay #3 section)

This section contains 4,589 words
(approx. 12 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy The Tale of Genji Study Guide
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The Tale of Genji from Epics for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.