Ideal Man And Woman In The Tale Of Genji

1756 words - 7 pages

The Heian period was a very long time ago and everything back then was completely different. Men were considered to be powerful and would be in charge of women, while women would have to be submissive. The men would spot a woman and it seems almost instantly, he would be extremely attracted and want her. There are many different characteristics that make up men and women of the Heian period, compared to present day; love, attraction, and power are perceived very differently.
The definition of an attractive woman during the Heian period is definitely not the same as women today. There are many unusual characteristics that make up an attractive Heian woman. First of all, women would wear many layers of clothing to cover up their body. The nude body is hardly mentioned in poetry and books, the more layers of clothing a woman wore; the more attractive it was to a man. Sleeves of a woman’s clothing were very appealing and attractive to men. Next, women would blacken their teeth with a black sticky dye, during the Heian period, white teeth were considered very unattractive for women. Along with completely blacken teeth, having a pale complexion was considered attractive. Women would have a lot of makeup to appear very pale white. An example would be Genji laying eyes on Yugao “..pale gray-violet gown over layers of white, and although she had nothing striking about her, her slender grace and her manner of speaking moved him deeply.” (Pg 66) After seeing her wearing many layers of clothing and her face pale white, he became extremely infatuated by her beauty.
Another very attractive aspect of a woman was long beautiful black hair. Hair on a woman was the key point that would attract men. “The hair streaming across her pillow, not a strand out of place, struck him as a wonder, and as he gazed at her, he found himself unable to understand for all these years he could have seen any flaw in her.” (Pg 179) If a woman were to cut off her hair, she would be considered extremely ugly and masculine. Women would also not wash their hair often either, so their hair would appear shiny and appealing. For women to allure a man, they would have to follow these traits. Love, was more of love at first sight, if she was of radiating beauty, the men would be desperately trying to be with her.
In the Heian period it was love at first sight for almost every man that laid eyes on an attractive woman. It seemed that love possessed a man when a woman was spotted and he would become extremely obsessed with her. “Genji had already noted her existence with interest, and he saw that his unlikely presence here might indicate a bond of destiny between them…” (pg 260) Genji was in Akashi during this time and was already married to Murasaki, yet when he saw a beautiful woman, he instantly believes they are meant to be. He is so infatuated with another woman’s beauty that he just wants to be with her. A strong infatuation is all a man needs to have...

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