The depiction of many relationships in this novel, particularly the relationship between Genji and Fujitsubo parallel several aspects of contemporary psychological theories. The theory of the Oedipus complex puts forward that males are inherently attracted to their mother while harboring a sense of aggression toward their fathers. This tension is palpable in many instances in the novel.
A central motivation within the Heian court was for individuals to present a daughter to the Emperor or Heir Apparent in order to attain a higher degree of social status. Thus it was typical for the Emperor to engage in polygamous behavior. This process allowed his prestige to be more readily extended among people within the upper aristocracy (Tyler, 2001, xiii). In addition to the Empress, the Emperor had a number of Consorts and Intimates. A hierarchical structure was established with Empress holding the highest status with the Consorts and Intimates progressively lower in rank respectively.
Genji is the protagonist in Shikibu's novel. As the Emperor's son, Genji was born to an Intimate that lost her father and had little political sway in the aristocratic circle (Tyler, 2001, xiii). ...
Thus Genji serves the Imperial dominion as a senior government official (Tyler, 2001, xiii).
While the novel contains many characters, including the women in Genji's life, the narrative returns to a focus on him. One of the main subjects in this novel is the nature of Genji's intimate connections and while he is involved in a number of relationships, there are recurrent themes that pervade the literature.
Genji's mother died soon after childbirth and while he lacked the opportunity to know her well, he heard that Fujitsubo, his father's future Empress closely resembles her. Early in his life, Genji begins to adore her and later he has an intimate liaison with her from which their son will subsequently succeed to the throne (Tyler, 2001, xiv). This adoration for the mother figure of Fujitsubo will influence many aspects of Genji's future relationships. While he has relations with Fujitsubo, the nature of their connection is both discreet and brief.
Genji is frustrated at the fact that he cannot attain or possess the embodiment of his desires as Fujitsubo is beyond his reach. Essentially, he attempts to recreate this special love in a young girl, Murasaki, who closely resembles her. Motivated by his desire for the mother figure, he personally grooms Murasaki to fill this role. When she becomes of age to marry, they are wed and she becomes the great love of his life (Tyler, 2001, xiv). Her death has a devastating effect on him. He becomes filled with hate as he cannot or will not accept the fact that he has survived her (Tyler, 2001, p. 761). His desire to live is largely diminished with the death of the mother figure.
"Yearning too fondly for a twilight one autumn many years ago, I saw the end come at last in a cruel dream at dawn (Tyler, 2006,