The Tale of Genji Questions and Answers
by Lady Murasaki Shikibu

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Relate the Tale of Genji to Shinto practices and rituals.

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Shinto purification and exorcism rituals serve to mitigate physical and spiritual suffering in The Tale of Genji. Afflictions occasioned by malignant attacks from evil spirits serve as a foil to highlight the often negative attributes of specific characters such as Lady Rokujo. In the story, she fears that her obsessive jealousy against Genji's wife, Lady Aoi, is the catalyst for Aoi's physical possession by evil kami.

Indeed, the ceremonial exorcisms performed by ritual exorcists plays a major part in the story. Every act of exorcism becomes not only a struggle for preeminence between conflicted parties, it is in itself a statement of community values. In The Tale Of Genji , each ritual ends with the calling out of the evil kami/spirit and the expelling of such spirits from the distressed individual, usually a woman. After the woman has obtained relief from her suffering, the community is satisfied, and societal equilibrium is restored until the next seizure or physical manifestation....

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Madeleine Wells eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2015

write3,263 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Law and Politics

check Approved by eNotes Editorial