The Tale of Genji

Suzaku Character Analysis

Suzaku is Genji's half-brother; his mother is Kokiden and they share a father, the Emperor. Suzaku is a few years older than Genji and not as well loved, though this doesn't impact the brothers' relationship: throughout their lives, they maintain a relatively close friendship. However, when Suzaku takes the throne at a very young age, he proves himself to be an ineffective ruler. Kokiden and his grandfather, the Minister of the Right, make it nearly impossible for Suzaku to what he wants to do. They also make it so Suzaku can't follow through on his father's wishes, including that he adopt Reizei and listen to Genji's advice. He allows Genji to be sent into exile after Genji is discovered with Oborozukiyo, with whom Suzaku is also romantically involved. Suzaku and Genji write to each other during this time until Kokiden stops their correspondence. After a year or so, the Emperor visits Suzaku in a dream, reprimands him for not listening to Genji, and Suzaku contracts a painful eye condition. Within several months, Suzaku makes the decision to call Genji back from exile. Though the brothers' relationship remains relatively strong for a short period of time, it soon sours when Genji takes the young woman Akikonomu under his wing. Suzaku has been in love with Akikonomu since she was a young girl, and he resents Genji's decision to present her to Reizei rather than allow Suzaku to have her. When Akikonomu finally turns Suzaku down herself, Suzaku shifts his support to the Kokiden girl in the final art contest.

Suzaku Quotes in The Tale of Genji

The The Tale of Genji quotes below are all either spoken by Suzaku or refer to Suzaku. 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.
The Paulownia Court Quotes

In a certain reign there was a lady not of the first rank whom the emperor loved more than any of the others. The grand ladies with high ambitions thought her a presumptuous upstart, and lesser ladies were still more resentful.

Page Number: 3
Explanation and Analysis:
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Because she was of such high birth (it may have been that people were imagining things) she seemed even more graceful and delicate than the other. No one could despise her for her inferior rank, and the emperor need not feel shy about showing his love for her.

Page Number: 6
Explanation and Analysis:
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An Autumn Excursion Quotes

In the Seventh Month, Fujitsubo was made empress [...] Making plans for his abdication, the emperor wanted to name Fujitsubo's son crown prince. The child had no strong backing, however [...] The emperor therefore wanted Fujitsubo in an unassailable position from which to promote her son's career.

Related Characters: Genji, Fujitsubo, Suzaku, Reizei, The Emperor
Page Number: 132
Explanation and Analysis:
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The Sacred Tree Quotes

She was quite aware of Kokiden's feelings and knew that a world at the service of the other lady would be difficult to live in.

Page Number: 197
Explanation and Analysis:
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Suzaku Character Timeline in The Tale of Genji

The timeline below shows where the character Suzaku 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
The Parent-Child Relationship Theme Icon
Nature, Poetry, and Beauty Theme Icon
...he gets, and it's clear that the baby is superior to the Emperor's older son, Suzaku. This makes Kokiden, Suzaku's mother, nervous, as she fears that her son won't be named... (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
...several months mocking the Emperor's grief, which colors everything he does. Even when he's with Suzaku, he dwells on Genji. He sends the best nurses and serving women to Genji and... (full context)
Heian Court Culture Theme Icon
Women, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
...but fears that the child would be destroyed like his mother was. He thus names Suzaku crown prince but continues to grieve for the next several years. Genji also grieves as... (full context)
Women, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
The Parent-Child Relationship Theme Icon
...very upset about all of this. Genji is far more handsome than her own son, Suzaku, and this earns him the nickname "the shining one," while Fujitsubo becomes known as "the... (full context)
Heian Court Culture Theme Icon
Women, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
...Emperor again makes sure that the festivities are equal to or better than those that Suzaku enjoyed. Though the Emperor is distraught when Genji's hair is cut in the adult fashion,... (full context)
An Autumn Excursion
Nature, Poetry, and Beauty Theme Icon
In the middle of October, the Emperor plans to make an excursion to the Suzaku Palace. This will include dancing and because the Emperor doesn’t want Fujitsubo and the other... (full context)
Women, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
...Genji treasures the letter. Several days later, Genji and the other courtiers leave for the Suzaku palace. The Emperor chooses virtuosos to play the flute, and again Genji's dance "Waves of... (full context)
The Festival of the Cherry Blossoms
Heian Court Culture Theme Icon
Nature, Poetry, and Beauty Theme Icon
...is very sad. Her father, the Minister of the Right, wants to give her to Suzaku in mere months. Genji wants to figure out who she is, but he's afraid of... (full context)
Heartvine
Heian Court Culture Theme Icon
The Parent-Child Relationship Theme Icon
Around this time, the Emperor abdicates and Suzaku takes the throne. With this, Genji finds that he has to be extra discreet with... (full context)
The Sacred Tree
Heian Court Culture Theme Icon
Women, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
The Parent-Child Relationship Theme Icon
Nature, Poetry, and Beauty Theme Icon
...late. Akikonomu is thrilled to get to take her mother with her to Ise. The Suzaku Emperor, who is romantically interested in Akikonomu, appoints a grand retinue to escort the priestess... (full context)
Heian Court Culture Theme Icon
Women, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
Nature, Poetry, and Beauty Theme Icon
The Suzaku Emperor puts the farewell comb in Akikonomu's hair and in the evening, the procession of... (full context)
Heian Court Culture Theme Icon
The Parent-Child Relationship Theme Icon
Beginning in October, the court begins to fear for the Emperor's health. He begs Suzaku to be good to Genji and to ask Genji for advice. Suzaku agrees to follow... (full context)
Heian Court Culture Theme Icon
The Parent-Child Relationship Theme Icon
...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 many ladies. He's sad, however, when... (full context)
Women, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
Genji returns to court to call on the Suzaku Emperor. Suzaku is aware that Genji is seeing Oborozukiyo but doesn't see any reason to... (full context)
Suma
The Parent-Child Relationship Theme Icon
...her days feeling upset. The Minister of the Right attempts to help her and the Suzaku Emperor forgives her for her offense in sleeping with Genji. They begin to see each... (full context)
Heian Court Culture Theme Icon
Nature, Poetry, and Beauty Theme Icon
...stare at the moon and Genji cries for Fujitsubo and the friendship he shared with Suzaku. He realizes he holds no ill will towards his half-brother. (full context)
Heian Court Culture Theme Icon
Back in the city, everyone grieves Genji's exile. The Suzaku Emperor and Genji continue to exchange poems, which sends Kokiden into a fit of rage.... (full context)
Akashi
Heian Court Culture Theme Icon
The Parent-Child Relationship Theme Icon
...in exile much longer. Meanwhile, back when the storm had ravaged the Suma coast, the Suzaku Emperor had a disturbing dream in which the Emperor yelled at him about Genji. Kokiden... (full context)
Women, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
The Parent-Child Relationship Theme Icon
...his time in Akashi. He sends them to Murasaki. When the New Year arrives, the Suzaku Emperor is still ill. Suzaku realizes he must abdicate and allow Reizei to rule. Finally,... (full context)
Women, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
Nature, Poetry, and Beauty Theme Icon
...Lady. He tells Murasaki about his lover in Akashi. Murasaki insists she's not worried. The Suzaku Emperor restores Genji's titles and they talk happily all night. Genji sets about commissioning prayers,... (full context)
Channel Buoys
The Parent-Child Relationship Theme Icon
Though Kokiden is seriously ill, she's still very angry that she hasn't crushed Genji yet. Suzaku feels as though he's paying for going against the Emperor's wishes. His health is better... (full context)
Heian Court Culture Theme Icon
Women, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
The Parent-Child Relationship Theme Icon
In February, eleven-year-old Reizei comes of age. Suzaku abdicates suddenly a few weeks later and makes one of his sons crown prince. Genji... (full context)
Heian Court Culture Theme Icon
At the palace, everyone is happy. Suzaku enjoys his retirement, Genji has moved into his mother the Paulownia Lady's old rooms, and... (full context)
Women, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
The Parent-Child Relationship Theme Icon
...Genji makes sure that Akikonomu's other suitors are all turned away, and he learns that Suzaku still nurses feelings for Akikonomu. (full context)
Heian Court Culture Theme Icon
The Parent-Child Relationship Theme Icon
...consults Fujitsubo in the matter, and she suggests that Genji pretend to not know that Suzaku loves Akikonomu. When she accepts Akikonomu as a candidate for Reizei's hand, Genji makes plans... (full context)
A Picture Contest
Women, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
...Genji has decided to not bring Akikonomu to his own house as to not anger Suzaku, but he knows Suzaku is still upset. Suzaku sends gifts for Akikonomu to commemorate coming... (full context)
Women, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
The Parent-Child Relationship Theme Icon
...they should only offer paintings that have been in their collections for a long time. Suzaku gives some paintings to Akikonomu, some of which he painted himself. Suzaku and Akikonomu exchange... (full context)