1. The men expected the “hidden flower” to be from the upper class, however, middle class was acceptable. Being in the lower class was totally unacceptable. The woman must have flawless beauty, intelligence, faithfulness (even though this was hypocritical), and submission. Submissiveness is a wishy-washy characteristic because Genji was most attracted to those that rejected him and did not accept his advances as Murasaki and Aoi did.
Genji wanted to mold the perfect woman or “hidden flower” out of Murasaki. She was hidden away and he kidnapped her to make her into who he wanted her to be. Genji seemed to enjoy the chase and challenges involved with women. He seemed to move from one woman to the next to boost his self esteem and solidify his image as a man.
Each woman had admirable traits; however, each woman had very distinctable flaws to Genji, which discredited her from being the “perfect” woman. For example, Murasaki was very young and not submissive due to her immaturity. Aoi was very harsh and provided no chase for him because she already belonged to him. Rokujo was seven years older than Genji and was very jealous. The Saffron Flower did not possess the flawless beauty that was desired. All of these women were beautiful in their own ways; Genji was too blind to realize it.
2. Geni was charming on the exterior to most that knew him. However, a closer examination reveals that he is selfish, uncompassionate, unfaithful and superficial. He is everything I am not looking for in a man. He sees what he wants and he takes it, as he did with Murasaki. He is very hypocritical. Genji expects his wife to be faithful to him while he is constantly sharing himself with other women.
Lady Murasaki does praise Genji; however, her compliments do not match his actions. Lady Murasaki might have experienced a similar experience in her own life. She might have been using Genji as an example to show how men are praised for doing immoral acts such as being unfaithful when women are ridiculed for such acts.
3. Women are expected to serve men submissively. They are like flowers…beautiful, fragile and they have no choice in who comes along and picks them. Women were used for entertainment and satisfaction. The book seemed to basically revolve around Genji’s relationships with women.
4. Clothes represented social status throughout the novel. Even if women were not completely acceptable to Genji, he would send them clothes to bring them up to his standards. People were very self-conscious of style. Still today people are judged based on name brands and styles of clothing.
5. Sneaking around was a central theme in the novel. Shadows and screens enhanced this subject. The houses and rooms were easily entered and open which might have represented the ease with which Genji entered into affairs with various women. The houses were remote which made sneaking around possible. Several instances occurred which represented the characters emotions and the events taking place. For example, the storm after Aoi’s death represented the mourning and darkness in Genji’s life.
6. Poetry and letters were the main form of communication throughout the novel. Secrecy and coded information were very important as well. Secrecy made the encounters more exciting and mystifying. People were judged by how well they wrote poetry and the style in which it was written. The color of the paper was also vital for it set the mood and communicated unwritten emotions.