The Tale of Genji

Shōnagon Character Analysis

Shōnagon is Murasaki's nurse. Even as the nun and the bishop turn Genji away from pursuing Murasaki, Shōnagon shows herself to be far more willing to entertain Genji's interest in her young charge. When Genji decides to kidnap Murasaki, Shōnagon goes with her, reasoning that it's more important to remain loyal to Murasaki than it is to be loyal to Prince Hyōbu. Shōnagon spends much of her time worrying that Genji isn't truly serious about wanting to make Murasaki a wife someday, and she's thrilled when she discovers that Genji followed through, despite Murasaki's crushing sense of betrayal.
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Shōnagon Character Timeline in The Tale of Genji

The timeline below shows where the character Shōnagon appears in The Tale of Genji. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
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...girl (Murasaki) sobs that one of her playmates let her baby sparrows loose. Her nurse, Shōnagon, comforts her, but the nun insists it's a sin to cage a bird. As Genji... (full context)
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...as she's immature for her age. The girl's mother apparently died, and the nun and Shōnagon exchange poems hoping that the "tender grasses" will be properly nurtured. The bishop interrupts and... (full context)
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Genji sends Koremitsu up the mountain to speak with Shōnagon. Koremitsu explains how serious Genji is, but the nun and the bishop continue to think... (full context)
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The Parent-Child Relationship Theme Icon
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...in a childish hand. Murasaki is meant to copy it and send her copy back. Shōnagon answers that the nun is so ill, they're sending her to the mountains and they... (full context)
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...bishop writes that she has died. Genji knows Murasaki must be very sad and sends Shōnagon a sympathetic letter. Several days later, Genji learns that Shōnagon and Murasaki are back in... (full context)
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...calls Murasaki to him to sleep on his lap. Murasaki is embarrassed and shy, but Shōnagon pushes her forward. Murasaki pulls away from Genji and Genji slips behind the screens with... (full context)
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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... (full context)
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...to the same conclusion Genji did: Murasaki shouldn't live in the sad and gloomy house. Shōnagon asks that they wait a while so Murasaki has time to grieve. Prince Hyōbu thinks... (full context)
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...house would look especially bad. Genji makes excuses to Aoi and sets off with Koremitsu. Shōnagon is annoyed with Genji's early visit and attempts to turn him away, but he forces... (full context)
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At the palace, Shōnagon is worried. She knows that Prince Hyōbu will be upset, but she feels she has... (full context)
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...He's aghast to find her gone and her serving ladies can only tell him that Shōnagon spirited her away. He writes to the bishop and receives no information there. Murasaki continues... (full context)
An Autumn Excursion
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Shōnagon continues to marvel at where her life is taking her. Though she worries some that... (full context)