The Cost of Conforming and Non-Conforming

An examination of literature about life during the Qing dynasty in China.

This paper discusses “Dream of the Red Chamber” by Tsao Hsueh-chin, “The Death of Woman Wang” by Jonathan Spence, “The Female Impersonator” by Yuan Mei, and “Six Records of a Floating Life” by Shen fu. It explains how these illustrate the consequences of conforming or not conforming. The issues concerning conformity range from rebellion against male authority to sexual deviation in these tales.
“The Confucian ideology of “Thrice Following” controlled women’s lives n the Qing Dynasty. As daughters, they had to following their fathers; as wives, they had to following their husbands; as widows, they had to following their sons. Many men viewed women as role models of purity, order and stability. Many males in Qing Dynasty literature are portrayed as being very immoral. They devote their lives to gambling and adultery, rather than living meaningful lives. An analysis of the fates of major characters in Qing literature illustrates that the degree to which the characters conform or fail to conform results in tragedy, the reinforcement of Confucian values and inevitable conflict.”