The Death of Yugao
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The Great Japanese writer-novelist noblewoman Murasaki Shikibu had written the beautiful story of The Tale of Genji. The Tale of Genji is considered by some as the first modern novel but there has been much debate on that topic. Lady Murasaki Shikibu’s The Tale of Genji had undergone many translations and the most recent translation was done by done by Royall Tyler. Royall Tyler is a direct descendant of the American playwright with the same name, Royall Tyler. He is known to have translated several Japanese texts of folklore, Noh plays, and his most known work is his translation of The Tale of Genji.
The Tale of Genji is basically about the life a very charismatic man named Genji, also called in the story the “shining one” because he was so talented in many fields like poetry, music, and the arts. The story tackles how the mid-Heian Japanese society, a very strict and conservative society that is very different to the Westerner’s viewpoint, had viewed fragile issues such as romance, sex, politics, and the thinking of people. Lady Murasaki Shikibu had written The Tale of Genji in a manner that the poetry is overflowing. But more commendably, the translator Royall Tyler had managed to preserve the poetic quality of the story. That feat, as we know, is a very prone to mistranslations. It is a good thing that Royall Tyler had managed to translate the story so that the Western world could also experience the beauty of the novel that many scholars consider as the world’s first great novel.
Perhaps one of the most vital part of The Tale of Genji is the part where the Lady Yugao died because a jealous spirit had killed her. Genji was with Yugao then, and they were having laughs, made love, and basically having a goof time together. The protagonist Genji and Lady Yugao’s relationship was never reached the point wherein they would have stability in their relationship. Lady Yugao wa bnrutally killed by the evil jealous spirit of Lady Rokoju. It just so happens that the novel’s protagonist, Genji, is very charismatic man, and we know that charismatic men would certainly have past loves. Before Genji met Yugao, he was formerly linked in romance with Rokujo. Lady Rokujo’s evil jealous spirit is the direct killer of the lady Yugao. All of that things happened within chapter four of The Tale of Genji. The title of chapter four was YUGAO The Twilight Beauty.
Throughout the narration, protagonist Genji uses his talents and good looks to attract women. One of the women that the poragonist Genji had wooed was Lady Yugao. Lady Yugao is a beautiful Japanese noblewoman that Genji had romanced in the story. Lady Yugao was only one of the many women that the protagonist Genji was romatically linked in the story.
There are some obvious reasons for the death of Lady Yugao. One the possible reason of the death of Yugao is just a typical case of cause and effect. There was the evil spirit Lady Rokoju, who was Genji’s past love. Lady Genji and Lady Rokoju obviously ended in bitter terms. Both of them may have unresolved disputes known only between them. That may just be logical since it is hard to view a man with such beauty and charisma without women chasing after him. What caused Lady Yugao’s death could be her own fault. Lady Yugao should have cleared it first with Genji if the man still had unresolved disputes with past loves. Even though in that sense the blame couldn’t point to Yugao, she is after all innocent, she gave in to Genji’s charisma, and that had led to her own demise. With this argument we can say that Lady Yugao had caused her self her own very death. But still the evil jealous spirit of Rokoju is still the direct cause of Lady Yugao’s brutal death.
Another possible cause of Yugao’s death is Genji himself. The author of the novel had given the character of the protagonist Genji as excessively handsome, extremely talented, and has superior charisma. With these traits the readers could automatically give the character of the protagonist Genji a sense of being either a womanizer or simply a chick-magnet. That is just understandable since it follows simple logic. Most great womanizers of the world of literature were also given the description that Lady Murasaki Shikibu had given the character of the protagonist Genji. With this argument we can say that Genji had caused lady Yugao her untimely death. Although that is the case, we can only categorize Genji as an indirect cause of lady Yugao’s brutal death.
But of course, ultimately, the most prominent cause of Lady Yugao’s death is the evil jealous spirit of Lady Rokoju. Though this argument is the most obvious and most simple of all, it is actually the most profound. The evil jealous spirit of Lady Rokoju was simply jealous of all the women that Genji was having affairs with. Interestingly, jealously is one of the most common human emotion and yet it is one of the most denied. Maybe that is why some cultures and religions practice monogamy. Those cultures and religions may have recognized the possible implications and the potential consequences of jealously. We may have heard other kinds of the crime that the evil jealous spirit of Lady Rokoju had committed. These kinds of crimes are more commonly known to us as crimes of passion. Crimes of passion had been a favorite of many writers throughout the history of literature. I guess that is simply because crimes of passion are simply interesting, and we know that readers won’t turn to the next page unless they are interested.
The evil jealous spirit of Lady Rokoju’s crime of killing Lady Yugao also yields to many ethical discussions. If philosophers and ethicists would discuss and argue among themselves the evil jealous spirit of Lady Rokoju’s crime, they could arrive at a divided decision. The evil jealous spirit of Lady Rokoju actions could even be dismissed. Interestingly, she may even be acquitted of the crime.
In chapter nine of The Tale of Genji, Heart-to-Heart, there are certain events that is directly rooted to what had happened in chapter four. At this point of the story, Lady Rokoju had accumulated higher political power. Lady Rokoju had some sort of control of the things happening around her, including the protagonist Genji. As if she had wiped her hands clean of the crime she had committed against Lady Yugao.
At his point of the story, the protagonist of the story Genji was under the custody of the Suzaku or the emperor. During this point in the plot, Genji was acting very different from the way he had acted in the previous chapters. He had stopped his habit of wooing many women. As a matter of fact, Genji had been even deliberately hiding from women. In chapter nine, there was clearly a change of heart for our protagonist Genji.
The sudden change of attitude towards women by Genji can possibly be rooted to what had transpired in chapter four. Genji may have been traumatized by the death of Lady Yugao. Or we could put it to more simpler and realistic terms, Genji may have had learned his lessons from his experience the evil jealous spirit of Lady Rokoju. He may have learned that his entanglement with multiple women may have been causing him a lot of complications in his life. Genji was at a very comfortable and good position alongside the Suzaku. So that may have been the reason very reason why he had changed so extremely. Genji just wanted to protect his newly acquired status quo.
Shikibu, Murasaki. Tyler, Royall. The Tale of Genji. Penguin Classics. 2001