The style of writing practiced by the sole author of The Tale of Genji , Lady Murasaki Shikibu, is one of increasing degrees of irony, that is, from straight narration of events in chronological time, termed diachronic progression in Chapters 1-33, to more complex stages of narration termed synchronic progression in which the importance of events in time gives way to a world of thoughts and emotions known only in part by characters, narrators, and readers, and not necessarily to all those who live in the text. In Chapters 34-41, the reader begins to know more about the characters and their relationships than they do individually.
The potentiality of failure as a theme is well-supported by a writing style in which characters and events are not always as they seem to be, that is, what happens is what only seems to be happening, and the real nature of characters and events lies beyond the actual time and space of the narrative. Finally, Murasaki’s irony turns, in the last chapters, 44-54, chiefly to an examination of what goes on in characters’ minds, far removed from the straight narration of the first sections of this long work. Often what is going on in the character’s minds is narrated as musing, referred to as interior monologue.
Though this sort of narration occurs with increasing frequency in the chapters relating to the first year of Genji’s life at the Rokujo no in, it reaches its peak in the last ten chapters, particularly those related to Ukifune, her attempted suicide, and subsequent amnesia, so that narrative flow becomes available only to the reader’s perception, not to other characters. I will attempt to point out, in this paper, that given the theme of success or failure, and the highly ironic writing style in The Tale of Genji, the image of the mother in this work is lso ironic, that is, it is not what it seems to be; it transgresses the boundaries of what might have been the real or non-fictional world of Heian Japan from which the work issues. Above all else, The Tale of Genji is not a fact, but a fiction, and a fiction that defines its ideas of motherhood by increasing degrees of irony in which its biological mothers are not whom they seem to be, not whom they want to be. It is my view that motherhood in The Tale of Genji is perverted, that is, it has been turned around so that it does not reflect societal norms.
Mothers transgress social boundaries by the very nature of their being mothers: the Kiritsubo Lady, Genji’s mother, because she is not suited by virtue of her class to be successful as the mother of an Imperial son; the Empress Fujitsubo who replaces Genji’s mother in his father the Emperor’s affections and who, by producing a child with Genji, is condemned to a life of utter secrecy lived in the fear of her secret being found out; Yugao who dies an untimely death in Genji’s arms by spirit possession and whose daughter Tamakazura, the issue of her brief affair with To no Chujo, is immediately removed to Kyushu; the Akashi lady whose daughter is taken from her by Prince Genji to be raised as a foster child by Murasaki no ue in order that the girl aspire to her rightful place in society and who, almost from the moment of giving birth, loses her natural rights as a mother; Aoi, Genji’s primary wife, who dies immediately on giving birth to his son Yugiri, again by spirit possession; the Third Princess who gives birth to a boy, Kaoru, whom the world will have to accept as Genji’s son, but who, in fact, is the product of her rape and abandonment by Kashiwagi. This list is not exhaustive. Being a biological mother in The Tale of Genji gives rise to the spectre of serious failure. The discussions below are not included in other published versions of this text: 3. Yugao, mother of Tamakazura4.
Rokujo Miyasundokoro, mother of Akikonomu5. Aoi, mother of Yugiri6. Akashi Lady, mother of the Akashi Princess In the Genji narrative, a certain pattern has begun to emerge in how biological mothering begins, is brought to an end, is overturned or perverted until a new pattern of substitution emerges in which Prince Genji takes over the role once performed by the biological mother. In conclusion, from Shimizu’s notion of societal expectation, it becomes apparent that even in the context of The Tale of Genji, children do not belong to the father, a matriarchal concept. But Heian Japan was already a patriarchal society by the time lady Murasaki wrote The Tale of Genji.
In her fiction, particularly, it would be necessary for children of both sexes to be appropriated by males who act after the fashion of a matriarchically determined world. The patriarch is contained within the matriarch and males take on female roles. This is particularly true for appropriated female children. The Akashi princess, Genji’s only true biological daughter, is the best example of this. When the Akashi lady moves from Akashi to her villa in Oi, Genji substitutes himself as mother. He then removes the child to the Rokujo no in and sees that Murasaki no ue brings her up to assume a role that are in keeping with Genji’s politics of recapturing the throne.
Genji becomes Akikonomu’s mother after Rokujo’s death in order to ensure that she marries his true biological son Reizei and carry out his political ambition to rule the Imperial Palace. Politics and social advancement are also at the heart of Genji’s usurpation of ‘officially sanctioned motherhood’ from the Third Princess. He allows her a weak, ineffectual form of retirement as a nun living at home to ensure that Kaoru makes his way within the Imperial palace. If Murasaki no ue is the best example in the Genji of a ‘woman’ who becomes recognized as a mother, Genji himself is capable of the same by default, and does so in the cases I have outlined. Perverted mothering in The Tale of Genji is not only possible, it is necessary to the success of the narrative.
Eric Fromme’s “Afterword”1984
Eric Fromme’s “Afterword”1984.
After reading Eric Fromme’s “Afterword” to 1984 and 1984, choose one of the following prompts, and write a carefully considered and clearly argued response. Requirements: 1. Your essay should comprise at least two, typed pages. (It will take this much to fully articulate a thorough, yet focused, response.) 2. Be sure to build from a clear and arguable thesis statement. 3. Incorporate relevant textual evidence from 1984, and relevant commentary. 4. Incorporate solid references and commentary on at least two current events in 21st Century society that further illuminate and support your argument. 5. Spell- and grammar-check your paper. Prompt: Human Nature: “Can human nature be changed in such a way that man can forget his longing for freedom, for dignity, for integrity for love—that is to say, can man forget that he is human? Or does human nature have a dynamism which will react to the violation of these basic human needs by attempting to change an inhuman society into a human one?”
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