The Tale of Genji

Aoi is Genji's wife and the only daughter of the Minister of the Left. She's several years older than Genji, which is one of the main reasons that the two never really get along. Genji doesn't help matters by never visiting, while Aoi is rude, dismissive, and disrespectful of Genji's time. Genji also notes that he sees Aoi as eternally older and more mature and refined than he is; in short, she's able to make him feel like a child because she's so haughty towards him. She also resents him for keeping so many other lovers, especially Murasaki. Aoi becomes pregnant after several years, though her pregnancy is unhappy and difficult: many believe that she's also possessed by malign spirits during her pregnancy. Later, the reader learns that the “malign spirit” is actually that of the Rokujō Lady, who is jealous that Genji is spending more time with his wife than with her. Just before Aoi gives birth, the Rokujō lady actually speaks to Genji through Aoi's body. Days after Aoi has Yugiri, she dies suddenly.

Aoi Quotes in The Tale of Genji

The The Tale of Genji quotes below are all either spoken by Aoi or refer to Aoi. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Heian Court Culture Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Vintage edition of The Tale of Genji published in 1976.
Evening Faces Quotes

The weak ones do have a power over us. The clear, forceful ones I can do without. I am weak and indecisive by nature myself, and a woman who is quiet and withdrawn and follows the wishes of a man even to the point of letting herself be used has much the greater appeal. A man can shape and mold her as he wishes, and becomes fonder of her all the while.

Related Characters: Genji (speaker), The Rokujō Lady, Murasaki, Aoi, Lady of the Evening Faces, Ukon
Page Number: 62-63
Explanation and Analysis:
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Lavender Quotes

"It would be nice, I sometimes think, if you could be a little more wifely. I have been very ill, and I am hurt, but not really surprised, that you have not inquired after my health."

"Like the pain, perhaps, of awaiting a visitor who does not come?"

Related Characters: Genji (speaker), Aoi (speaker), Minister of the Left
Page Number: 83
Explanation and Analysis:
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Heartvine Quotes

Genji felt like a child thief. The role amused him and the affection he now felt for the girl seemed to reduce his earlier affection to the tiniest mote. A man's heart is a very strange amalgam indeed!

Related Characters: Genji, Fujitsubo, Murasaki, Aoi
Page Number: 182
Explanation and Analysis:
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Aoi Character Timeline in The Tale of Genji

The timeline below shows where the character Aoi appears in The Tale of Genji. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
The Paulownia Court
Heian Court Culture Theme Icon
Women, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
...Soon, the Emperor and the Minister of the Left decide that the Minister's only daughter, Aoi, should be given to Genji rather than to Suzaku as a wife. This will give... (full context)
Heian Court Culture Theme Icon
Women, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
...things over. Genji spends most of his time with the Emperor and not much with Aoi in Sanjō, mostly because Genji is desperately in love with Fujitsubo. However, now that he's... (full context)
Evening Faces
Women, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
...the Locust Shell refuses, though her daughter receives him happily. Genji spends little time with Aoi, which angers her, and after pushing through the Rokujō Lady's resistance, he stops seeing her... (full context)
Lavender
Heian Court Culture Theme Icon
Women, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
...in attendance and convinces Genji to recover from his journey at the Sanjō mansion with Aoi. Genji unenthusiastically agrees. Aoi is stiff and remote per usual and has to be coaxed... (full context)
Women, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
The Parent-Child Relationship Theme Icon
Koremitsu again relays this to Genji, who is at Aoi's house in Sanjō, bored as usual. Genji decides he must swear the women to secrecy... (full context)
An Autumn Excursion
Heian Court Culture Theme Icon
Women, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
The Parent-Child Relationship Theme Icon
...in-laws criticize him for this. He also has to fend off rumors of Murasaki, and Aoi in particular is very upset. Genji feels that if Aoi were open about her complaints... (full context)
Women, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
The Parent-Child Relationship Theme Icon
Genji heads to Sanjō to visit Aoi. He suggests that for the new year, she could be friendlier. However, Aoi has no... (full context)
Heian Court Culture Theme Icon
Nature, Poetry, and Beauty Theme Icon
...him while he's gone. He explains that he misses her too, but he must keep Aoi happy. He promises that when Murasaki is an adult, he'll never leave her. She falls... (full context)
Heian Court Culture Theme Icon
The Parent-Child Relationship Theme Icon
Those at the Minister of the Left and Aoi's house think it's odd that Genji is spending so much time with his mysterious lady.... (full context)
The Festival of the Cherry Blossoms
Heian Court Culture Theme Icon
Women, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
The Parent-Child Relationship Theme Icon
...reply on his fan. Then, he reasons that comforting Murasaki is more important than visiting Aoi. He finds her more fun to be around, though he does worry that their closeness... (full context)
The Parent-Child Relationship Theme Icon
Aoi keeps Genji waiting, so Genji fiddles with a koto. The Minister of the Left congratulates... (full context)
Heartvine
Heian Court Culture Theme Icon
The Parent-Child Relationship Theme Icon
...Genji's in-laws are also upset with him, though they keep their complaints to themselves since Aoi is pregnant and very ill. Genji neglects all his other lovers. (full context)
Heian Court Culture Theme Icon
Women, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
The Parent-Child Relationship Theme Icon
...the celebration, and ladies' sleeves coming out of the carriages are bright and colorful. Though Aoi has no interest in going, her serving women and her mother, Princess Omiya, convince her... (full context)
Women, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
The Sanjō footmen (that is, Aoi’s) recognize that the unattended carriages belong to the Rokujō Lady, who only wants to watch... (full context)
Women, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
...about the carriage debacle later. He feels horrible for the Rokujō lady and angry at Aoi, who he feels is uncompassionate and rude. Genji tries to call on the Rokujō lady... (full context)
Heian Court Culture Theme Icon
Women, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
The Parent-Child Relationship Theme Icon
...her to stay, but his notes only make her sadder and angrier. Meanwhile, in Sanjō, Aoi appears to be possessed by a malign spirit. Genji takes up temporary residence there and... (full context)
Heian Court Culture Theme Icon
Genji disguises himself and visits the Rokujō Lady at her new house. He explains Aoi's illness and stays the night, but this does little to make the Rokujō Lady feel... (full context)
Heian Court Culture Theme Icon
Women, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
Nature, Poetry, and Beauty Theme Icon
The Rokujō Lady hears rumors that her father's spirit may be the one possessing Aoi. Distraught, the Rokujō Lady thinks that she's never wished anyone ill. She wonders if her... (full context)
Heian Court Culture Theme Icon
Women, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
The Parent-Child Relationship Theme Icon
Nature, Poetry, and Beauty Theme Icon
Aoi goes into labor prematurely. Priests arrive to attempt to exorcise the evil spirit, but it... (full context)
Women, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
The Parent-Child Relationship Theme Icon
...at exorcisms. Genji remains horrified that he heard the Rokujō Lady speak to him through Aoi and he finally decides to send her a note, though he doesn't visit. Aoi's son,... (full context)
Women, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
...leave for court. Not long after, a messenger arrives at court with the message that Aoi has died. The men wander aimlessly, and the minister decides to leave Aoi's body for... (full context)
Heian Court Culture Theme Icon
Women, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
...a beautiful letter, but he fears it's disingenuous. He can't sort out his feelings about Aoi and the Rokujō Lady, but he finally replies and suggests they end their relationship, implying... (full context)
Women, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
Nature, Poetry, and Beauty Theme Icon
...seemed happy in his marriage, but decides this is proof that he did actually love Aoi. After Tō no Chūjō leaves, Genji sends flowers to Princess Omiya about their "wild carnation,"... (full context)
Women, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
...to raise Murasaki to not be an "affected, overrefined" woman and then calls some of Aoi's women to keep him company. They're all sad because they believe that he'll leave them... (full context)
The Parent-Child Relationship Theme Icon
...then goes to his wife. The Minister sadly laments that Genji's absence means he misses Aoi even more. The entire household weeps. (full context)
Nature, Poetry, and Beauty Theme Icon
...Year robes for Genji and he dutifully changes into them. They exchange notes grieving for Aoi but recognize that the new year should bring renewal. (full context)
The Sacred Tree
Heian Court Culture Theme Icon
The Parent-Child Relationship Theme Icon
...and the Minister of the Right haven't forgotten that the Minister of the Left gave Aoi to Genji instead of to Suzaku. Genji dedicates himself to Yugiri's education and neglects his... (full context)
Suma
Heian Court Culture Theme Icon
Nature, Poetry, and Beauty Theme Icon
...Tō no Chūjō drink until late and then, Genji spends the night with one of Aoi's former serving women. In the morning, Genji makes a note of the cherry blossoms past... (full context)
Women, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
Nature, Poetry, and Beauty Theme Icon
...her five-page letter, and thinks he was wrong to get so upset with her about Aoi's death. Genji laments to her that he didn't just go with her to Ise. He... (full context)