Comparing and Contrasting Roles between The Tale of Genji and Two Ghost Stories from Liaozhaiâ

Comparing and Contrasting Roles between The Tale of Genji and Two Ghost Stories from Liaozhaiâ

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Allie MacLeod Comparing and Contrasting Roles between The Tale of Genji and Two Ghost Stories from Liaozhai’s Records of the Strange Both The Tale of Genji , a work of Japanese literature, and the ghost stories from Liaozhai’s Records of the Strange , a work of Chinese literature, serve not only as stories but also seem to double as a useful guide to the roles of gender within each book’s time period and society. The Tale of Genji, while centering around a prince, seems to reflect his interactions with different women and his love affairs with some and how they come to affect him. The ghost stories from Liaozhai’s Records of the Strange consists of two stories both dealing with a young man falling for and becoming involved with a ghost woman. While there are a few differences in the roles of gender, sexuality, and poetry, in both The Tale of Genji and the ghost stories from Liaozhai’s Records of the Strange , the picture of the ideal man and the way to become the perfect woman can been seen through comparing the two texts. While both The Tale of Genji and the ghost stories from Liaozhai’s Records of the Strange portray the ideals of a perfect man, each of the men, though similar in character, has a different idea of what is the most important in being that ideal man. In The Tale of Genji, Murasaki Shikibu paints the picture of Genji, who while shown as a player, is also depicted as the ideal man for many women. He is charming, suave, and actually has respect for women, viewing them as more than mere objects of lust. He has a feminine enchantment to him, possessing many virtues such as beauty, sensitivity, grace, and talent. Along with these virtues he is also an attractive prince who is both intellectually smart and emotional able to express his feelings and take care of women. When things happen to his loved ones he is not afraid to fall depressed because he does truly feel for the women he is intimate with, this shows the tender heart he possesses. On top of Page 1
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Allie MacLeod everything else he is successful in the arts of painting, music, as well as writing poems for his lovers. All of the characteristics depict him as perfect in the eyes of society as well as making him the model for the ultimate male. In ghost stories from Liaozhai’s Records of the Strange , the emphasis of the ideal male resides in the second of the two stories and puts great stress on male genitalia representing ideals in men. In Ingenia , Lian “was extremely clever but eunuch by birth. At the age of sixteen his penis was only the size of a silkworm”. Throughout his life he was ostracized as an inferior person due to his lack of sexual effectiveness. This causes him to often times be depressed and bitter, having to put up with jokes he cannot defend, creating a powerless feeling. “The boy was a cultivated and refined sort of person, good at witty repartee, and Ingenia began to feel rather tenderly toward him.” These characteristics seem important when searching for the
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Comparing and Contrasting Roles between The Tale of Genji and Two Ghost Stories from Liaozhaiâ

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