The Tale of Genji

Medea and the Women of The Tale of Genji: Trapped in a Man’s World College

Medea, in Medea by Euripides, might be described as a hysterical and ruthless murderer, for she kills an innocent princess and slaughters her very own children. The women in The Tale of Genji by Murasaki Shikibu could easily be described as needy and foolishly jealous, for they are depicted whining and biting their husband’s fingers out of vicious envy. Why did these women act in the ways that they did? Perhaps their actions were not born from inherent personality traits, but rather actions of the oppressed. As the Norton Anthology claims, “this is the unspeakable violence of the oppressed, which... because it has been long pent up, cannot be controlled” (Knox/Thalmann 615). Whatever the case, the women in each story are clearly acting out of desperation to escape an andro-centric reality. These were women who faced oppression and ultimately lived very unhappy lives due to their unrealistic gender expectations, and a lack of rights and power in society.

To begin with Medea, Medea, like the women in The Tale of Genji, is a victim of a society that holds unrealistic gender expectations for women; in many cases men in society even hold women to a double standard. Medea was born into her unfortunate state of exile, all due to her...

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