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An Analysis Of The Classic "Rickshaw" By Chinese Literary Great Lao She

5297 words - 22 pages

Through telling the story of Xiangzi, Lao She's "Rickshaw" moulds a woman in Hu Niu that is the antithesis of everything that a woman should be in the traditional society of that period. In the time-honoured Chinese culture, there has long been a strong prejudice against women of power. Every unfavourable image has been linked with particularly those who have proved especially formidable. Throughout the histories that have been written by mostly men where views as traditional as Xiangzi's have been prevalent, dominant women have been presented in the most unsympathetic light.In similar fashion, our look at the character Hu Niu is relentlessly coloured by Xiangzi's harsh narrative. It is ...view middle of the document...

Women who strayed away from the traits that society norms dictate are seen as abnormal. In the same way, Xiangzi's descriptions are most discriminating when revealing thoughts about any strong woman in his life, and he especially vilifies Hu Niu. This is not unlike the negative ways that dominant women like Empress Cixi and Empress Wu Zetian have been represented throughout history.Under Confucian beliefs, it has been highly regarded the notion that the best types of women were the virtuous ones who may show maternal instincts - before they even marry - towards their younger siblings and widower fathers. There have always been deep-seated attitudes that have limited women's access to power. Patriarchy being the norm of the culture, a woman's position within her family and the social hierarchy was as a dependent, not leader, of men. The tendency has been to assign women and men different roles, and women's special reproductive functions, of course, encourage this division. Often, the sharply restricted participation of women as competitors raises questions about a female's ability to command.In actuality, women are by nature no weaker than men. As a generalization, certainly, they may be physically slighter and their characters gentler, but this does not equate to them being fundamentally powerless, useless, hesitant, cowardly, or able to survive only by obeying men. Scientists and historians have devised systems to analyse the workings of the world that, coincidentally, protect their own interests while oppressing and dominating women: the theory of Yin and Yang, for example, was established to demonstrate that, inherently, the female sex (yin) is linked with softer elements of the world such as 'stillness', 'inwardness', or 'earth', etc., while the male (yang) is linked with much stronger elements such as 'motion', 'outwardness', 'sky'.Commanding and opinionated women were seen to be transgressing this boundary of yin and yang. Women who yielded power and used their skills in mind games to manipulate situations to their favour are seen as masculine and unnatural. Women who used their sexuality were seen as even more improper. Regardless of their individual personalities and abilities, females have been perceived as too weak, irrational and emotional to rule. This sentiment is shown in a Chinese saying that stated: "A woman ruler is like a hen crowing" .As we see from the beginning of his tale, due to Xiangzi's traditional views, his dream is to someday marry a robust and honest country girl after making enough money . As a result, it is apparent to us that the foundation of Hu Niu's very nature had doomed her from the onset to be the recipient of all of Xiangzi' prejudices. The precise manner in which she came to catch Xiangzi in marriage ignited every one of his prejudgments against women, especially against those who yielded sexual power. Xiangzi is incredibly scared of sexual women, but he mostly piously masquerades this fear as loathing or...

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