The Tale of Genji

Murasaki is Fujitsubo's niece. Because she looks so much like Fujitsubo, Genji falls immediately in love with her when he first meets her at age ten, and he decides he must raise her to be his perfect lover. As a child, Murasaki is described as being very immature for her age; her caregivers, the nun and her nurse, Shōnagon, believe that she's especially vulnerable after losing her mother. Murasaki initially finds Genji handsome and interesting, though she's scared and wary when he kidnaps her and takes her to the palace. She soon adjusts and becomes very close to Genji. He teaches her to write and to play music and spends as much time as he can with her. Before too long, she begins to get jealous when he spends time elsewhere. Several years later when Aoi dies, Genji observes his time of grieving and then “makes Murasaki a wife,” eating the customary wedding sweets with her and raping her. He's perplexed and intrigued when she feels betrayed—she trusted him to act as her father and had no idea that he wanted a sexual relationship with her. Despite this sense of betrayal, Murasaki does seem to recognize that her wellbeing depends on keeping Genji happy. She remains his favorite lover through the end of the novel and she appears to feel genuine affection for him. Her jealous streak does continue, however, especially when she learns of the Akashi Lady and Genji's daughter with her. However, she's most upset that Genji had a lover with whom to amuse himself in exile, while she spent the years he was away in tears.

Murasaki Quotes in The Tale of Genji

The The Tale of Genji quotes below are all either spoken by Murasaki or refer to Murasaki. 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 I am weak and indecisive by nature myself, and a woman who is quiet and withdrawn and follows the wishes of a man even to the point of letting herself be used has much the greater appeal.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

The hand was very immature indeed, and yet it had strength, and character. It was very much like her grandmother's. A touch of the modern and it would not be at all unacceptable.

Related Characters: Genji, Murasaki, The Nun
Page Number: 104
Explanation and Analysis:
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Murasaki was the perfect companion, a toy for him to play with. He could not have been so free and uninhibited with a daughter of his own. There are restraints upon paternal intimacy.

Related Characters: Genji, Murasaki, Ukon
Page Number: 106
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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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Though avoiding display, he took great pains with her initiation ceremonies. She found the solicitude, though remarkable, very distasteful. She had trusted him, she had quite entwined herself about him. It had been inexcusably careless of her.

Related Characters: Genji, Murasaki
Page Number: 184
Explanation and Analysis:
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Memories had dimmed over the years, but now the astonishing resemblance did a little dispel his gloom. The dignity that quite put one to shame also reminded him of Murasaki. He could hardly think of them as two persons, and yet, perhaps because Fujitsubo had been so much in his thoughts over the years, there did after all seem to be a difference.

Page Number: 204
Explanation and Analysis:
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Akashi Quotes

He thought that he could hardly be expected to visit her. She had her own ideas. She knew that rustic maidens should come running at a word from a city gentleman who happened to be briefly in the vicinity. No, she did not belong to his world, and she would only be inviting grief if she pretended that she did.

Page Number: 299
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Channel Buoys Quotes

Though she saw little of him, the lady was completely dependent on him; but she was not of the modern sort, given to outpourings of resentment. He knew that she would not make him uncomfortable. Long neglected, her house now wore a weirdly ruinous aspect.

Page Number: 327
Explanation and Analysis:
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Murasaki Character Timeline in The Tale of Genji

The timeline below shows where the character Murasaki appears in The Tale of Genji. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Lavender
Heian Court Culture Theme Icon
Women, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
Nature, Poetry, and Beauty Theme Icon
...who he can tell will be a great beauty when she grows up. The girl (Murasaki) sobs that one of her playmates let her baby sparrows loose. Her nurse, Shōnagon, comforts... (full context)
Heian Court Culture Theme Icon
Women, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
The nun calls Murasaki to her and wonders what will happen to the girl, as she's immature for her... (full context)
Women, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
The Parent-Child Relationship Theme Icon
...talks at length about his spiritual wellbeing. Finally, Genji seizes his chance to ask about Murasaki. He learns that the bishop is her uncle and her father is Prince Hyōbu, which... (full context)
Women, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
The Parent-Child Relationship Theme Icon
Nature, Poetry, and Beauty Theme Icon
...grasses." They obey, and the nun finds his note shocking. She believes that Genji thinks Murasaki is much older than ten and responds with a poem rebuking him. They pass several... (full context)
Heian Court Culture Theme Icon
Women, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
The Parent-Child Relationship Theme Icon
Genji finds the nun intimidating but says that he feels a kinship with Murasaki, having lost his own mother very young, and that he wishes to adopt her. The... (full context)
The Parent-Child Relationship Theme Icon
...talks Genji into playing the koto. This impresses all the priests and nuns and, importantly, Murasaki. She deems him handsomer than her father, and the bishop suggests she be his little... (full context)
Heian Court Culture Theme Icon
The Parent-Child Relationship Theme Icon
Nature, Poetry, and Beauty Theme Icon
Genji lies in bed and thinks of Murasaki. He recognizes that she's too young for him now, but he wonders if there's some... (full context)
Heian Court Culture Theme Icon
Women, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
...the bishop continue to think his interest will be fleeting. Genji sends another note for Murasaki with Koremitsu, asking to see her calligraphy exercises. The nun replies insinuating that Genji is... (full context)
Women, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
...city, he begins to write her more often. She continues to deny him custody of Murasaki but Genji doesn't worry; he's too caught up in worrying about how things are going... (full context)
The Parent-Child Relationship Theme Icon
Genji reminds the nun that he's entirely serious about taking custody of Murasaki, insisting that their relationship is so strong, it must have begun in a different world.... (full context)
Women, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
The Parent-Child Relationship Theme Icon
Nature, Poetry, and Beauty Theme Icon
...next day, Genji sends a note asking after the nun and includes a note for Murasaki, written in a childish hand. Murasaki is meant to copy it and send her copy... (full context)
Women, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
The Parent-Child Relationship Theme Icon
...a while. When he finally does, the bishop writes that she has died. Genji knows Murasaki must be very sad and sends Shōnagon a sympathetic letter. Several days later, Genji learns... (full context)
Women, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
The Parent-Child Relationship Theme Icon
One of Murasaki's playmates tells her that a gentleman is visiting. She races out, believing she'll see her... (full context)
Women, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
Genji prepares to leave just before dawn. He tells Shōnagon that he must bring Murasaki to the palace so she doesn't have to live in this terrifying house anymore, but... (full context)
Women, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
Nature, Poetry, and Beauty Theme Icon
Prince Hyōbu visits Murasaki later that day and comes to the same conclusion Genji did: Murasaki shouldn't live in... (full context)
Women, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
The Parent-Child Relationship Theme Icon
...Sanjō, bored as usual. Genji decides he must swear the women to secrecy and take Murasaki to the palace in the morning, as taking her from her father's house would look... (full context)
Heian Court Culture Theme Icon
Women, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
The Parent-Child Relationship Theme Icon
...that Prince Hyōbu will be upset, but she feels she has to remain loyal to Murasaki. Genji has Koremitsu set up screens and makes Murasaki lie down with him to sleep.... (full context)
Heian Court Culture Theme Icon
Women, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
Prince Hyōbu goes to fetch Murasaki on schedule. He's aghast to find her gone and her serving ladies can only tell... (full context)
An Autumn Excursion
Heian Court Culture Theme Icon
Women, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
The Parent-Child Relationship Theme Icon
...but his 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... (full context)
Heian Court Culture Theme Icon
Women, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
The Parent-Child Relationship Theme Icon
...her life is taking her. Though she worries some that Genji isn't as attentive to Murasaki as he could be, Murasaki's future seems secure. Murasaki's mourning period for the nun ends... (full context)
Women, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
The Parent-Child Relationship Theme Icon
...she's convinced that the lady her husband is spending so much time with (that is, Murasaki) has become his favorite. Aoi's elegance still manages to make Genji feel like a child,... (full context)
Women, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
The Parent-Child Relationship Theme Icon
...does, however, include a short poem insisting she can't change anything. Genji decides to visit Murasaki to lift his spirits and plays the flute for her. Murasaki is annoyed that he... (full context)
Heian Court Culture Theme Icon
Nature, Poetry, and Beauty Theme Icon
Murasaki is suddenly forlorn, so Genji asks her if she misses him while he's gone. He... (full context)
Heian Court Culture Theme Icon
The Parent-Child Relationship Theme Icon
...is now ashamed to have people see her, though by now they have discovered that Murasaki is a child. Later, the Emperor reprimands Genji for not pleasing his in-laws, but feels... (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
...liaison, but he wants to figure out who the lady is first. He thinks of Murasaki, who is surely lonely since he hasn't visited in days. Genji also thinks of Oborozukiyo's... (full context)
Heartvine
Women, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
...the Rokujō lady to apologize, but Akikonomu sends him away. He instead goes to see Murasaki and marvels at how long her hair has grown. He decides it's time to trim... (full context)
Heian Court Culture Theme Icon
Women, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
The Parent-Child Relationship Theme Icon
...there and summons exorcists. The Sanjō household asks the exorcists if the Rokujō Lady and Murasaki, the two ladies of Genji's who are sure to be the most jealous, may be... (full context)
Women, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
...feels that her handwriting suggests mysterious things. Genji thinks of how he wants to raise Murasaki to not be an "affected, overrefined" woman and then calls some of Aoi's women to... (full context)
Women, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
The Parent-Child Relationship Theme Icon
...palace and then calls on Fujitsubo. She sends out condolences through Omyōbu. Genji then visits Murasaki and tells her that now she'll surely get bored of him. He spends days thinking... (full context)
Women, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
The Parent-Child Relationship Theme Icon
Genji returns at noon and invites Murasaki to play a game, but she pulls the covers over her head and refuses. Her... (full context)
The Sacred Tree
Heian Court Culture Theme Icon
Women, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
...the closet and watches Fujitsubo for a moment. He marvels at how much she and Murasaki look like each other. Genji approaches Fujitsubo again. Terrified, she sinks to the floor and... (full context)
The Parent-Child Relationship Theme Icon
...there. He thinks the only reason he doesn't embrace the religious life is because of Murasaki. He writes to her often and she cries when she receives his letters. Genji is... (full context)
Women, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
The Parent-Child Relationship Theme Icon
Nature, Poetry, and Beauty Theme Icon
...two priestesses. Genji dedicates himself to studying Buddhist texts and finally, decides to return to Murasaki. He finds that she's even more beautiful and mature now, and he finds her very... (full context)
Suma
Heian Court Culture Theme Icon
Women, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
...and his indecision drives his servers mad. He knows that the time apart would hurt Murasaki, but he understands that taking her would be inappropriate. Genji also worries about the Lady... (full context)
Women, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
...of the beauty of the mansion will crumble in his absence. He goes to visit Murasaki and explains why he spent the night away from her. She's upset; Prince Hyōbu and... (full context)
Heian Court Culture Theme Icon
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...to trusted men, packs a few things he'll need, and assigns all the women to Murasaki's wing of the house. He sends parting notes and gifts to his lovers, including Oborozukiyo,... (full context)
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The Parent-Child Relationship Theme Icon
Genji spends the day with Murasaki and at nightfall, he asks her to see him off. He feigns pleasantness as they... (full context)
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The Parent-Child Relationship Theme Icon
As the seasons pass, Genji thinks often of Murasaki, Reizei, and Yugiri. He sends letters to Murasaki, Fujitsubo, and Oborozukiyo. In her grief and... (full context)
Heian Court Culture Theme Icon
...exchange poems, which sends Kokiden into a fit of rage. After this, the letters stop. Murasaki remains unhappy, though serving women who once thought her simple decide that she's absolutely worthy... (full context)
Akashi
Nature, Poetry, and Beauty Theme Icon
...king of the sea continues to visit him in his dreams. A messenger arrives from Murasaki, looking more like an animal than a person. She writes that storms plague the city... (full context)
Women, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
The Parent-Child Relationship Theme Icon
Nature, Poetry, and Beauty Theme Icon
...one he led at court. After resting, Genji sends messages back to the city, promising Murasaki that he's still thinking only of her. The rains stop and Genji and the former... (full context)
Heian Court Culture Theme Icon
The Parent-Child Relationship Theme Icon
Genji spends much of his time thinking of the city and Murasaki. However, he reasons that he won't be in exile much longer. Meanwhile, back when the... (full context)
Women, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
...for Genji to visit the Akashi Lady's house. Looking at the moon, Genji thinks of Murasaki, but the house intrigues him. Stopping at the door, Genji speaks. The lady doesn't answer,... (full context)
Women, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
...so often, he secretly visits the Akashi Lady, though he's constantly overcome with guilt that Murasaki will find out about his affair. Finally, he writes to her and confesses that he's... (full context)
Women, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
The Parent-Child Relationship Theme Icon
Genji starts keeping sketchbooks of his time in Akashi. He sends them to Murasaki. When the New Year arrives, the Suzaku Emperor is still ill. Suzaku realizes he must... (full context)
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Nature, Poetry, and Beauty Theme Icon
The reunion when Genji reaches the city is joyful. Murasaki is more beautiful than ever, though the sight of her makes Genji think of the... (full context)
Channel Buoys
The Parent-Child Relationship Theme Icon
Finally, Genji tells Murasaki about his daughter, lamenting that he doesn't have children where he actually wants them. He... (full context)
Heian Court Culture Theme Icon
The Parent-Child Relationship Theme Icon
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...birth to Genji's daughter. She returns Genji's poem, asking him to send for her soon. Murasaki continues to be jealous. (full context)
Heian Court Culture Theme Icon
The Parent-Child Relationship Theme Icon
...candidate for Reizei's hand, Genji makes plans to bring Akikonomu to his mansion to keep Murasaki company. Fujitsubo is worried, about Prince Hyōbu's desire to have Reizei marry his young daughter... (full context)
A Picture Contest
Heian Court Culture Theme Icon
The Parent-Child Relationship Theme Icon
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...he pleases. He also pulls out his sketchbooks and journals from exile to show to Murasaki. They move her to tears with their beauty. (full context)