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book report for

March 11, 2016 | Author: | Posted in asian literature, literature and language

It was during the Sung dynasty , when Buddhism had been assimilated into the national philosophy of China , that its accompanying culture made its conquest , until that notorious saying “to die by starvation is a small matter , to lose one ‘s chastity is a great one ” became a sacred commandment for the Chinese woman . It is true that this custom was never forced by law , but like many customs in China , it was made effective by the social opinion and moral force which are often much more deadly than the hands of the law [banner_entry_middle]

. And through the admonishment of scholars who have always been leaders in Chinese social opinion , this attitude toward a woman ‘s chastity was elaborated and exaggerated to such a ridiculous degree that on one hand , social life between men and women became entirely forbidden , so that the only men a woman was allowed to see besides members of her family were her cousins and brothers-in-law . On the other hand , the idea of preserving one ‘s chastity was so exaggerated that a little girl of five or six , or even younger , would sometimes be asked , if her boy fiancy should have died “Would you remain faithful to your ‘man ‘ or marry again “Of course ” her parents would continue to say “we would not force you not to marry again , but what a great honor you would bring to our family as well as to his if you should keep your celibacy and go to live with his parents ” The little girl , knowing nothing about life and the world , would naturally choose the path which her parents had chosen for her , thus dooming her entire life to a miserable and inhuman existence

The fear of women thirsting for power called forth men ‘s theories that further restricted what was meant by maternal duty and feminine virtue Roughly , they amounted to absolute obedience of women to men contentedness in an ignorant and limited life , and utter self-abandonment in the service of the husband ‘s family . This tendency reached it highest in the Sung dynasty (960-1276 , when the influence of Hindu civilization had been incorporated with Chinese culture , an influence that was rather detrimental to women ‘s development . The greatest moral authority for the last eight hundred years , Chu Hsi (1130 -1200 , interpreted the Confucian classics in such a way that an entirely new meaning was put into the Confucian ideals of womanhood Chastity and absolute loyalty to one man was made the cardinal virtue of a woman . Everything else must be subordinated to it . According to him it was a small matter to die of starvation but a serious matter to lose one ‘s virtue by marrying a second time . Previous to his time , widows or divorced women marrying a second time were quite common and were recorded without any criticism . But the Sung scholars never let such a case pass without due censure . Great poetesses of the time such as Li Ch ‘ing-chao and Chu Shu-chen were condemned simply… [banner_entry_footer]

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