Lady of the ‘Evening Faces’
- Pages: 5
- Word count: 1107
- Category: College Example Short Story
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Yûgao, translated to ‘evening faces,’ is also the name given to the lady in the shabby house near Genji’s ill nanny’s house. Genji fell in love with the girl and courted her despite the differences in their ranks. She is such a delightful figure in the story ‘Tale of Genji’ especially in the Yûgao chapter. Compared to the Lady of the Sixth Ward, Lady Rokujô, Genji’s wife, Lady Yûgao is a lot better despite her rank. I would not blame Genji for falling in love with Lady Yûgao and do all he can just to be with her.
Lady of the ‘Evening Faces’
Yûgao, translated to ‘evening faces,’ is also the name given to the lady in the shabby house near Genji’s ill nanny’s house. Genji fell in love with the girl and courted her despite the differences in their ranks. She is such a delightful figure in the story ‘Tale of Genji’ especially in the Yûgao chapter. Compared to the Lady of the Sixth Ward, Lady Rokujô, Genji’s wife, Lady Yûgao is a lot better despite her rank. I would not blame Genji for falling in love with Lady Yûgao and doing all he can just to be with her.
The first thing that made Lady Yûgao an interesting figure is her mysterious appearance. For one thing, she lived in a hut that was not a nice sight. Even Genji felt sorry for the occupants of that place when he first noticed it. Genji, upon seeing “outlines of pretty foreheads” in the fence on his nanny’s neighborhood, asked himself “I needs must ask the lady far off yonder.” Then an attendant went to him and told him the flowers were called ‘evening faces.’ The flowers were common to the shabby neighborhood but the servant picked up from the Lady Yûgao’s house upon request by Genji. There, Lady Yûgao came out and gave the attendant a heavily scented fan to put the flower on. That was the first time Genji saw her face and got interest in her saying that the fan “has the appearance of something it might be interesting to look into.” On the following poem, he showed interest to the lady in the ‘evening faces’.
“I think I need not ask whose face it is,
So bright, this evening face, in the shining dew.”
Lady Yûgao was mysterious in a way that she lived in a shabby hut where she was too good to be found in that place. We usually see this image in movies and some popular fictional shows like Cinderella. We know that Cinderella was mistreated by her stepmother and that she was treated like a house maid. However, when she came to the palace to meet the prince dressed impressively by her Fairy Godmother, she gained his attention for being so mysterious yet with splendid beauty. Lady Yûgao is mysterious and beautiful. Genji courted him in guise of a commoner. He did it this way to avoid getting any attention that would surely cost his reputation. He tried to uncover her identity but the girl was just as mysterious as she was secretive. However, the good thing is she allowed Genji to court her. Another good thing is that this long passage gives us a glimpse of the Japan’s history, particularly how the courting process was during the Heian Period.
Both of them tried to know their secrets; one bearing her mysterious beauty, the other hiding his true nature. Oftentimes, Genji interpreted Lady Yûgao’s attitude as being childish but he likes it that way. His fondness grew that he said he wanted to have long hours of talk with her. Their exchanges of poems were no longer enough for him. Luckily, she and her household began to feel at ease with him that they even let him in. We might have seen a part of her mysterious side but there was nothing more revealed in their talks. The next thing that happened that I considered the most intense part of the story is when they went into a deserted house. For me it is one good trait of Lady Yûgao that she being independent. We must also take into account how open-minded she was—going out with Genji even if she hadn’t enough knowledge of him. Another thing is she was not demanding despite the untidiness of the place. Unlike Lady Rokujo, she was not complaining. Genji sensed freedom with her unlike when he’s with his wife.
Unfortunately, what happened next was a tragedy. Lady Yûgao died in an unexpected way. And guess who killed her? It was Lady Rokujo’s jealous spirit. It happened at the peak of darkness while all of them were sleeping when suddenly a woman appeared by Genji’s pillow saying, “You do not even think of visiting me, when you are so much on my mind. Instead you go running off with someone who has nothing to recommend her, and raise a great stir over her. It is cruel, intolerable.” It frightened both of them; Lady Yûgao being so frightened that it brought her to lifelessness. Lady Rokujo was the one responsible for Lady Yûgao’s death, such a cruel being. What happened next was a series of sad scenes. Genji was saddened by the event but was more saddened because when the news spreads, it can ruin his reputation.
Although the acquaintance was quiet brief, Genji was happy with her. And she too started to feel at ease with him despite the fact that he still was a stranger to her. Amazingly, even after she died, she managed not to tell her name. She just said “call me the fisherman’s daughter” which seemed a childish response for Genji.
Now, comparing Lady Yugao to Lady Rokujo, I would choose the former. Actually, I don’t think there is a need for comparing the two when we all know that Lady Rokujo is a jealous type. Her jealousy is just out-of-place. Unfortunately, throughout the story, she killed two of Genji’s mistresses, Lady Yûgao and Lady Aoi no Ue, and scared others. Though the Yûgao chapter of the Tale of Genji was brief, it gave life to the character of Lady Yûgao and the wonderful love story they had. This being a part of Genji’s early life played a vital role in his development as a man. We have seen the courting process during the Heian Period being brought to life. If only she had lived, their love story would have been the best.
“Chapter 4: Evening Faces.” Retrieved 14 Dec 2007, from http://www.globusz.com/ebooks/Genji/00000015.htm