Ideal Man and Woman in The Tale of Genji

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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 ... ... middle of paper ... ...e men were obviously very controlling and had power over women. The women almost seem to have no choice but to obey and endure affairs that their men were having behind their backs. Throughout the book of Genji Monogatari, there are even instances of women dying because they could not handle their men cheating on them. The illness of the fact their men would have constant affairs and leave them lonely would be too much for some women to handle. In fact jealous spirits of mistresses men had were the killer of other women. This strange period of women and men relationships have changed since then, but certainly can not be forgotten. Works Cited Smits, Gregory. Chapter three: The Heian Period Aristocrats. Retrieved from http://www.east-asian-history.net/textbooks/172/ch3_main.htm Tyler, Royall. (2006). Tale of Genji. England: Penguin Group.
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