Genji asked each woman what seasons they liked. In the spring palace, Murasaki, Genji’s dearest person and factual principal wife lived and he spent his most of his time here. She was raised by Genji’s ideal woman who was around 10 years old. When Genji was 17 years old, he went to the temple to pray for his health because of malaria, where he accidentally found little Murasaki. She lived with her grandmother after her mother died. Genji actually kidnapped her before her father picked her up. He had a strong attachment to her because she was a nice of Lady Fujitsubo, a mother-in-law and also an illicit love affair partner.
Murasaki was the only women in the tale for whom we could see her childhood, from 10 years old until her death at 43 years old. Just like spring has growth energy, so did Murasaki. Genji often told her that women should not be deeply jealous because it made him feel too heavy. Murasaki tried not to express her jealous to other women who had affairs with Genji. However as she got older, she started to have her own feelings. Although Murasaki was Genji’s principal wife, this marriage was not official since she had been kidnapped without telling her father.
Murasaki was always in an unstable position because Genji could have a true principal wife any time. When she was 33 years old, Genji acquired an official principal wife named Sannomiya. He was 40 years old. Murasaki never expected he would have another wife at this age. Genji said he could not deny this marriage because she was an emperor’s daughter. However. Sannomiya was Lady Fujitubo’s niece, he imagined she must resemble her. Murasaki ostensibly kept a nonchalant attitude because she was told to behave in this way by Genji. Five years later, Murasaki’s suffering grew more serious.
Her stepdaughter’s son became his imperial highness, and his real mother of low class came into the spotlight. Setouchi describes Murasaki’s nature, that she felt a sense of defeat, as she never had a child between Genji (Note: Setouchi, J.2004. Tsukai Jyakucho Genjijyuku, Jyakucho’s Genji Academy, Tokyo: Shueisya). At around 37 years old, Murasaki began to tell Genji she wanted to be a nun.Her love for him had already cooled as she become interested in Buddhism. Most of the women who had affairs with Genji either died before him or became a nun.
Murasaki was not exceptional, she wanted to be free from her suffering. Setouchi assumes that the author Lady Murasaki thought becoming a nun was the only way a women could be saved from suffering in the male dominant society.(Note: Setouchi, J.2004.Tsukai Jyakucho Genjijyuku [Jyakucho’s Genji Academy], Tokyo: Shueisya) Novel. Women in this time period actually became nuns later in their lives, seeking freedom and a peaceful mind. Genji never admitted that Murasaki would be a nun. Murasaki knew Genji’s heart would never be filled, even though he had many love affairs. The pure innocent little girl Murasaki was 7 years younger than him, and she always looked up to Genji. She at last matured enough to see into his heart.
Murasaki’s theme essence is Peach. Chapter 19 of the tale of Genji well describes her theme essence character. In this chapter, Genji’s only daughter was born to him and Akashi (Genji and Akashi met while he was away from Kyoto).He had to leave Kyoto for being punished for having an affair with his highness’s fiancee, who was raised by Murasaki. Since Akashi was from a lower class, Genji thought their daughter should be raised by higher class women.
Murasaki loved children very much, but she never had her own. She was very happy to take care of her love rival’s daughter, she tried to breast feed, although she didn’t have milk. Setouchi doubts in her postscripts of chapter 19 that how could she purely love her love rival’s daughter.(Note: Setouchi, J.2008. Genjimonogatari volume 4 [The Tale of Genji Volume 4 ], Tokyo: Kodansya) Perhaps it was not very important to her whose daughter the little girl was, but her theme characteristic of nurturing and pure qualities driven her to raise a children. She was not a biological mother, however what she did was comparable to it.
The writer Murasaki did not let Murasaki have her own children, which intensified her theme character more. She always showed a supportive and understanding attitude to Genji which is another positive qualities of Peach Essence. When he married Sannomiya, who was very young and became the official principal wife for her novel status, Murasaki understood he should visit her three nights consecutively, which was the marriage custom at the time. Before he went to Sannomiya’s place, Murasaki burned incense to scent his Kimono without complaining. It was the important wife’s task to do this.Murasaki did this so that Genji would not be embarrassed in front of his novel wife. Although she suffered greatly from Genji’s love affairs, she never forgot to be concerned of others.
Before she died, she asked Genji to take care of her servants who didn’t have anywhere to live after she died. She was like a mother for the people who served her, much like Mother Teresa.