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The Art of Courtly Love

Rule 6 of the art of Courtly Love states that ‘A male cannot love until he has fully reached puberty’. (Paul Halsall) This indicates that unless a boy grows to be more mature, he is not yet capable of giving himself to love another being. More often than not also, men usually associate feelings of love with attraction. Males tend to develop feelings for members of the opposite sex during puberty. At the time of childhood, boys and girls see each other more as equals. As such, they freely interact and mingle with each other as children.

As they grow to be more mature, they begin to develop awareness of how different the members of the opposite sex are. As boys and girls grow up, they notice anatomical changes in themselves. This makes them more aware of the difference between boys and girls or males and females. It is easy at this stage for boys and girls to develop friendships. As they reach a certain age, they begin to develop feelings of timidity or wariness around their boy or girl playmates. They begin to feel self-conscious around their playmates.

Adolescent boys and girls begin to be more concerned about their appearance. How they are perceived by members of the opposite sex becomes important. They begin to form their own concepts of what is beautiful, ideal and perfect. As they begin to find their footing, adolescent males and females are inclined to explore their sexuality in different ways. One step further into this journey of self-exploration is the wish to belong. This takes the form of one longing to be in a relationship.

It seems that it is when males mature that they get more in touch with their feminine side. They learn how to appreciate beauty around them. The beauty in their female counterparts does not escape them. This appreciation more often turns into something deeper with the desire for them to have a deeper connection with their female counterparts. As young boys and girls, they start with platonic friendships. When they reach adolescence, there is the longing to form deeper relationships. These evolve into bonds which may lead them to find their lifetime partners.

Apart from longing to be in a circle of friends, this leads to forming romantic relationships with members of the opposite sex and eventually marriage. Females naturally have a nurturing side. They are naturally inclined to wear their ‘hearts on their sleeves’ so to speak. It is but natural for women to be more open with how they feel. For men, this trait only comes out when they become more mature. This is, perhaps, one reason why there is no similar rule for females. In the Tale of Genji, Genji got married to the daughter of a powerful man.

They got married at a very young age such that his wife continued to stay at her father’s house. This just shows that it takes a certain level of maturity on the part of a man in order to become a proper husband. In most societies, men are expected to be the head of the household. As such, husbands are presumed to be the more dominant figure. In most cases, especially during the earlier days, the man is supposed to provide for his family. He is expected to be able to take care of his wife and children.

To bring that to fruition, men should acquire some skill and experience in order to accomplish what is expected. Such skill and experience only comes with age and the right way of thinking. This is why in this case, that rule stating that ‘A male cannot love until he has fully reached puberty’ is true. (Paul Halsall) On the other hand, women, since the olden days, have always been associated to the affairs of the home. It is only in the more recent centuries that the role of the woman in society has been uplifted and recognized.

As such, women have always been ‘consigned’ to keep house for the husband. Women, for so long, have always been expected to keep the house clean, cook meals for the husband, do his laundry and be submissive to the husband. The skills needed to be able to perform these tasks are usually acquired from an early age and don’t need special instruction. This is probably another reason why for women, there is no rule similar to rule 6 in ‘The Art of Courtly Love’. In the Tale of Genji, when he reached the age of 18, he became attracted to the very young Murasaki.

He decided that she would be his future wife. Part of what attracted him to Murasaki that she resembled Fujitsubo (his father’s future Empress whom he secretly fell in love with as a young man and secretly had a child with) in so many ways. In preparation for that, he groomed and educated her with the ways to make her fit to be a proper wife. This even in Genji’s life signaled his maturity and a change in his priorities. When a person grows in life, his needs change and he realizes that life is not worth living unless he has somebody whom he can share it with.

Life without love makes it a vicious cycle. Love makes the ride through the journey of life worthwhile. (Summary of The Tale of Genji) The Art of Courtly Love states that ‘The true lover never desires the embraces of any save his lover. ’ (Paul Halsall) The Tale of Genji and The Art of Courtly love are about love and life written amidst cultures that are poles apart. In spite of this difference, the rules in ‘the Art of Courtly love’ applies to everyone in general. In the Tale of Genji, Genji’s love for Murasaki proved this. When Murasaki passed away, Genji was devastated.

The tale of Genji goes on to reveal that after Murasaki’s death, he still goes on to have relationships with numerous women. However, none of these relationships ever came close to the one that he had with Murasaki, his one true love. The reason why he went on, relationship after relationship, was that he was trying to find something close to what he and Murasaki had. This proves that love transcends all things. Culture and social standing becomes irrelevant Anyone who truly loves somebody will never be satisfied with any other than the one whom he loves.

Nobody will ever be good enough to replace one’s true love. This also applies to being with somebody whom others may perceive to be better than one’s beloved. No matter how much better the “replacement” may seem, he or she will never be good enough as one’s true love. (Summary of The Tale of Genji) Works Cited Paul Halsall. Andreas Capellanus: The Art of Courtly Love, (btw. 1174-1186). October 1997. 8 May 2009 <http://www. fordham. edu/halsall/source/capellanus. html>. Summary of The Tale of Genji. 2009. 9 May 2009 <http://www. taleofgenji. org/summary. html>.

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