Topics for Further Study

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In The Tale of Genji, a great importance is placed on art. People gain respect and admiration based on their musical, painting, and writing ability. How does this value system compare to that of contemporary America?

Describe the political system in Heian-era Japan. Who were the decision-makers and how did they come to power? Explain the fundamental differences between that system of government and a democracy.

The characters in The Tale of Genji are highly sensitive to the seasons. Make a list of poetic references to each of the four seasons: five each for spring, summer, winter, and autumn. Judging by the context of these references, what broad assumptions can you make about the characteristics of these seasons?

The law of karma assumes that actions in past lives influence circumstances in the present life. How does this spiritual law serve to govern morality? How does it function compared to modern legal systems, which also serve to influence human behavior?

What kinds of rights and privileges did court women have in the society depicted in The Tale of Genji? You can use the author as an example.

What could women in this society do to preserve and increase these rights?

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