The Morality In Jonathan Spence's The Question Of Hu

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According to Roads Murphy, the Chinese regarded the Westerners as an uncivilized people, but more ill-mannered than any foreigners, and as potential troublemakers and corrupt beings that will lead them astray of Chinese morality. During the early modern period were Kangxi and Qianlong sat on the throne for the longest time in the history of China, the great majority of them were content with their own far older and more sophisticated ways and religious traditions, and there were few openings for what were seen as alien faiths, promoted by resented outsiders the West, which in the book of Jonathan Spence, The Question of Hu, narrates the story of the two cultures colliding. The two greatest emperors of China, Kangxi who reigned the longest…show more content…
On one side there is Foucquet the self-interested superior scholar, and on the other, there is John Hu, an innocent Chinese copyist trying to explore a new land. Hus is exploited from the outset as his views are written off as inferior and he is placed on a position that he cannot measure up to. Hu’s behaviour on the Voyage as well as during his time in France was perceived by Foucquet to be “Chinese madness”.5 Hu’s perceived crazy actions include things such as stealing a horse, eating disproportionate amounts of food at a time, and refusing to have any sorts of interaction with women. Hu frequently changes his demeanor, happy one instance and angry the next, which puzzles Foucquet and others eventually getting locked up in an insane asylum after being labeled as…show more content…
Hu is misled by Foucquet in that Hu was under the assumption that he was to explore this new society, being one of the only Chinese men to ever do so. “Surely he will be seeing astonishing places, doing amazing things. Foucquet does not contradict him on this”9 this statement obviously indicates that Hu is preparing to explore a new society and come back to China to tell of his journey, and this is confirmed by Foucquet. Hu, however, is quickly viewed as an embarrassment by Foucquet who tries to isolate Hu as much as possible. On the voyage to France, Hu is immediately isolated from Foucquet and forced to eat with those of low salaries, and does not know how to properly eat. From here on out Hu is moving from house to house being deprived of his chance to explore by Foucquet. At Renault’s house Hu eats his meals with the housekeeper in a separate room, until he objects and is forced to eat alone. To look at Hu’s actions such as stealing a horse and constantly disappearing as being crazy is a very simplistic view of the situation. Hu is described as overjoyed when he is in Paris because he finally is able to explore. “Here Hu can stroll down to rue St. Antoine…past the church of S t Paul to the right”10

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