Yuan Drama

A discussion of the differences of social status and gender in Yuan drama.

This paper examines the different social status and gender positions portrayed in seven dramas from Chinese theater of the Yuan period. The Yuan dynasty was the period of Mongol rule in China. The dramas included portrayals of a wide range of social classes- rich, poor, officials, beggars, women, men and many more. It shows how women had a lower social status then men and were held in lower regard. Those of a higher status were mostly officials who had access to power and money while in contrast, the lower classes had to work hard for a living and face many injustices. It aims to bring forth the idea that the playwrights used these differences to illustrate moral ideas about good and evil.
“The status of scholars and those who become officials by passing the exam is clearly illustrated here. The Chang family held scholars and officials in high regard and considered it a source of pride and social status to have a son-in-law who is an official. This could be attributed to the fact that the imperial examination was a way for someone from the lower class to raise the position of his family and himself in the social hierarchy. Passing the examination and becoming an official was to bring great honor and prestige to the family. Understandably, to gain a son-in-law who was an official would also bring prestige to the Chang family and perhaps validate or improve their social status.”