The Tale of Genji is seen as many things, whether it is the first novel written or the world’s first psychological novel. In this book, Murasaki Shikibu tells the story of Hikaru Genji and his experiences. The Tale of Genji is considered the world’s first novel; the story takes us through the birth and death of Genji, a smart, attractive, and talented boy. Genji, is the second son of Emperor Kiritsubo and as the son of an emperor Genji’s life is extremely controlled, whether it be arranged marriages or having little to no secrecy. Through his extra-ordinary life, Genji deals with very ordinary circumstances; various love affairs, some of which bearing children, and the death of loved ones. Shikibu is able to capture her readers in this book by writing with enough emotion and detail that the story is given validity through the chapters. The validity is captured in the many of the stories conflicts whether it be; a father making the right decision, feeling close to someone who resembles one’s mother, reliving lost loves, losing a loved one, or having a son then losing your wife. Shikibu brings these stories to life in The Tale of Genji in a way that brings truth to the very story she is telling.
The Tale of Genji begins like most beginnings with the birth of our main character, Genji. His mother was Kiributsu, the emperor’s favorite consort, but she had did not have a strong family background and was such criticized by jealous on-lookers. Kiributsu shortly becomes sick and passes away, which leaves Genji without truly knowing his mother. Genji is immediately seen as a beautiful child and quickly becomes his father’s favorite son. This makes the emperor distraught in that due to Genji being the second born son, he cannot be named crown prince. The emperor hesitates in granting this honor onto his first son but due to the way it would look, he reluctantly chooses his first born to be his successor. (Ch. 1)
In this scenario Shikibu is able to capture reality in such a simple event by retelling a very common occurrence. When one chooses what is right over what one wants. Genji is smart, handsome, talented, and everything and more that a father wants in a child, which makes it obvious as to why the emperor wants him as his heir. The emperor’s first born was the son of Lady Kokiden who was of royal blood, the backing his first son received became an added pressure in that if the emperor chose to make Genji his heir then this decision would not end up looking good by the royal family. The emperor made a choice that has been made by so many, that Shikibu is able to have the emperor relate to many of her readers. With this tiny part of the book she is able to put the lesson of choosing what is right over what is wanted into the collection of lessons that The Tale of Genji holds.
Genji grows older and not only becomes married to Princess Aoi, but he also gains a strong friendship with his brother in law, To-no-Chujo. The two friends like many boys,...