Deathofwomanwang Essay

357 WordsNov 5, 20122 Pages
Confucian philosophy’s foundation is grounded with order. The other main staple of it is humanness. These traits allowed Confucian beliefs to take hold over a substantial amount of influence in 17th century China. Although it would seem these two philosophical pillars could go hand in hand together, it is found that they often times had conflicting effects on social structure. In Jonathan Spence’s work, The Death of Woman Wang, his studies offer insight and a look into what rural life was like in a “small corner of northeastern China in the seventeenth century”. Among other social constructs Spence attempts to illuminate within it, the most critical note he strikes is that of gender role and placement within society, and what impact that has on not only the state of T’an-ch’eng in which the novel takes place, but setting a precedent for the expansive nation of China as a whole. The role of men and women were outlined largely by the guidelines set according to Confucian order, and the effects of that are brought to a head with the story that Spence tells of. The groundwork of Confucianism is defined by organization. Within society, a person’s role was firstly defined by gender, but also by social class and standing. Everyone was to follow guidelines accordingly, based on how they were categorized, and only that, nothing more. Emperors were to stay true to responsibilities, nothing outside of that. Farmers were to provide agriculture support, not to contribute any type of scholarly influence. For all intents and purposes, the uneducated were largely unable to become educated and remain that way. All the way down the latter, if anyone steps outside their primary function in society, this was seen as intrusive to organization, and therefore not Confucian. But the most imperative divide in responsibility was the role of men and women, and that’s what Spence is shedding

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