Good Example Of Essay On Feudal Codes And The Role Of Women In The Chinese Society: An Analysis Of The Poem
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The status of women have been questioned in many cultures of the world over the years. In the same manner, the Chinese culture also have a history of amendments and development made in the status of women. The Chinese literature explores and defines the role of women in the different dynasties of China. In particular, the feudal code of Chinese dynasty has put a lot of impact on the role of women in that is evident from the limitations that were imposed them for instance, no say in the decision of getting married etc. In this regard, the poem entitled, “Southeast the Peacock Flies” is a remarkable achievement that discusses the patriarchal system or the feudal system that made it difficult for women to have their respective in getting married from their own choice. The aim of this paper is to analyze the poem and understand its implication on the Chinese women.
The poem Southeast the Peacock Flieshas remained one of the major literary contribution about the life of Jiao Liu in the Chinese history. Herein, it is significant to note that there has not been any indication as to who wrote the poem. In simpler words, the poet of the poem is anonymous. The critics have claimed along with the statement of the natives of Hans Dynasty that the poem talks about the real-life events rather than illusionist view of women. The poem is an expression of realism that shows the tragedy of Chinese women and ironic behavior of men towards them. It was marked that women were not given the support that they deserved over the years. The poem has been widely acclaimed by the literary experts for it talked about the critical problems of the Han Dynasty. Critics claimed that the poem remains a great achievement of the poet.
It is stated that the poem was written in the 5th century that set a standard of longer poems in terms of couplet. The narrative style of the poem is usual. However, the poems that were written in the same era were short addresses to the subject of matter. It is also believed that the poem has had some connection with the Indian culture since it involves peacock. This indicates that the context of the poem has been long debated for its belonging to culture and inhibition.
In addition, the poem remarkably talks about the feudal system that was practiced in the Hans Dynasty. Parents had been extremely authoritative and decided each and every aspect of a girl’s life. It was also noted that women were not given a free hand to get a better education like boys. Women in the Hans Dynasty were expected to work like servants. As a matter of fact, women were considered to have no right when it came to talk about their individualities. The poem showed that the couple had no way to prove their choice of getting married. Therefore, eventually they decided to die because the society left them with no choice. Critics also mark that the poem can rather be considered as a symbol of justice that was expected of the superior men of the Hans Dynasty.
As per the closer analysis of the poem, it comes to the understanding that there are a number of themes presented in the poem. Major themes that are evident in the poem includes social status, the role of women in the society and the superiority of men over women etc.
The poem narrates the story of the two lovers who commit suicide because their love was put under several examination. The couple wanted to spend a peaceful life but due to the advocacy of the feudal codes, it was maintained that the marriage was planned by the parents or men who were considered as superior to women. The death of the couple had gained a lot of sympathies from the readers all around the world for not being able to stay together. The act of couple to commit suicide shows that they were sincere to each other.
The above-mentioned context of the lovers can easily be bring into relation or alignment to the peacock for which the poem has been named as the Southeast the Peacock Flies. It is narrated that male peacock are the beautiful form of birds. It is due to this reason that they are famous all around the world. On the other hand, female peacock are not beautiful in comparison with the male peacock, but is able to select a mate based upon the striking colors of the feathers. However, peacock are sincere when it comes to mating. In case peacock mates are separated from each other then they are expected to die. It is the similar that was noted from the couple in the poem.
The poem begins with the account of Liu who explained that she grew up with all the training about housekeeping. Later on, she was married to a clerk who she fell in love with madly. However, with the passage of time, the mother of her husband was not happy with her. She understood every single way to make her happy but she was still criticized by the mother of her husband. Liu was taught to make beautiful clothes and it was the same thing that the clerk’s mother expected her to do. She did not like the clothes that Liu made for which she constantly pressurized her. In order to bring things to a solution, Liu communicated with her husband about his mother’s behavior towards her. Consequently, the clerk went up to his mother and tried to communicate. As a result, Liu’s husband was insulted by his mother for having no respect of her mother. It is a clear evidence of the fact that women in the Hans Dynasty had no respect in front of the authoritative parents. It clearly and explicitly mentions that the act of a husband to talk in defense of his wife was considered to be an unacceptable behavior. In other words, families had to be given better consideration instead of the wives. It is due to this reason that the clerks does not argument more with her mother and comes back to his wife with no solution or middle ground.
However, the poem shows that the husband was not take a step for her wife who promised to remain loyal to him. It becomes evident from the poem that Liu’s husband orders her to go back home till the time he comes back to take her from her home. Since Liu considered the word of her husband as a promise and love, she accepts and leaves from the house to make clothes in her maternal home. Herein, it should be noted that the poet wrote that Liu believed that if she will ever leave her husband’s house then there is a possibility that she will never be able to come back but she trusted her husband and undertook the command.
One of the significant instance of the poem is when Liu was leaving home. It is shown that she goes to her mother in law at the first place to thank for money and silk that was given to her. She also goes to meet her sister in law where she pleads her to take care of the mother. It shows that despite undergoing a lot of misbehavior and insult, Liu still played her role as girls are expected to. Her tongue or words were comforting even though she was insulted repeatedly by the same people. At this point, Liu has been shown in the poem to bid goodbye to her husband as the following lines express:
You must be rock firm, I must be a pliant reed
The pliant reed is supple a silk, the firm rock will not be rolled away.
At this point, the readers can surely understand that women were expected to bend down in front of the orders of the parents. At the same time, men were considered to be the bread earners who had to stick with their family even if they have to give up on their love. In addition, women were supposed to have no demands of their own and that they were destined to respect and service the people who are superior to her. For instance, the superior men and women of the family who have earned a status and brought the girl to home after getting them married to their sons.
The modern readers would surely disagree with the thinking of the previous Dynasties because in the present world, people are more inclined towards giving equal rights to women. Also, individuals tend to explore themselves and take decisions that are on their own experiences rather than depending upon others. It is merely because people do not understand that the lives of people are different and that by ruling others would not bring any goodness in one’s life. It is due to this reason that it is asserted that the advocacy of the feudal codes have made women in the ancient world struggle and become a symbol of dependence.
Furthermore, the poem shows that the life is not easy for a woman in her maternal family side as well. It is because the mothers who nurture their daughters want them to please men and their families so that they do not return back. In the case of Liu, a similar instance was observed in the form of her mother who was disappointed to see her at home. She felt ashamed that she could not see Liu living happily with her husband. At this point, the readers can surely feel the misery of Liu that she had no place to go because her own mother was ashamed of her for being left alone. Herein, the readers would like to advocate the position of Liu as she tried everything that she could do in order to save herself from the insult. The initial couplets of the poem shows that Liu did not want to get separated from her husband at all.
Yet another time, the readers would observe in the poem that the poetess gives various examples of authoritative parents. It is seen in the poem that Liu’s mother tries to find a match maker who would find a decent man for her so that she could start a family again, but an opposite is observed. Since Liu speaks out of her love in the poem, it becomes evident that she could not please anyone else. It is quiet observable that marriage has been decided by others rather than the groom or bride who have to live together. It is due to this reason that women should be given the right to decide for themselves rather than being in a situation where they are insulted and abandoned from their husband’s home.
Talking in general about the poem, it can be said that the poem is the longest one in the literature of Hans Dynasty. The nature and the manner in which the poet has discussed about the unacceptable way of treating women have not just create an impact on people but also gained attention of many decision-makers in the society. The gender bias, as discussed in the poem, leaves a very clear message about the limitations that were imposed on women for not being able to decide for themselves.
The astonishing revelation made in the poem was about the seven rules that were imposed on women. As per the rules of the superior men, there were seven conditions that were not be cleared by women in order to gain some status within the society. Firstly, it was expected of Chinese women that they were supposed to give birth to son. Secondly, they were completely forbidden from being jealous of men or their actions when it came to their contact with other women. Thirdly, women were to make sure that they have never been involved in any sort of theft and that they stayed within the premises of their homes throughout her life. Fourthly, women were also expected to have no debauchery. Fifth condition in the list made women liable to have a good communication with men regardless of the situation. Finally, if the women had some sort of the vicious disease then the family had all the right to disown or abandon the woman instead of taking care of her during her time of sickness. The aforementioned strict rules and regulations made women dependent upon the society and have no decision of her own.
The poet has also maintained in the poem that there has been no standards set for men when it came to the treatment of women. Poems that have discussed the similar subject of matter have not been able to gain attention of the masses. There have been many critics who have used the poem as a reference to their own respective work concerning the role of women within the society.
The brother of Liu tries to play the trick of social status on her by stating that she should marry to a man who is rich because if a person gets rich then he or she can do anything in the world. As mentioned in the poem:
Why are you so unreasonable?
First you married a government clerk,
Later you might marry a squire.
Fortune is like heaven and earth,
It can bring glory to your person.
Not to wed this lord now,
What will happen in the future?”
Li, Chan. Southeast the Peacock Flies, a May Fourth Tragedy. New York: University Microfilms, 1987. Print
Minford, John and Joseph S. M. Lau. Classical Chinese Literature: An Anthology of Translations. Chicago: Chinese University Press, 2000. Print
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