, Research Paper
What has happened to Confucianism. For a long time, Confucian was accepted as the idea that a healthy society depended on a solid traditional family. Confucius himself, for example, called for people to put principle above selfish desires. People supported hierarchy. The rulers moral example would inspire the people to live good lives. But one begins to detect a new theme emerging in society especially amongst the Chinese reformers: the theme of individualism oppose to familialism. Today, would the Confucian family be more and more aware of abuse to women and children? The rituals and traditions can be seen as both positive and negative. The ways in which women suffered affirm that some rituals were abusive. There are multiple signs indeed that something has gone badly wrong with the Chinese family traditions that led to family instability.
To begin with, one of the major problems that hindered the Chinese family is customs and rituals. On the other hand, some of these family traditions allowed the family to flourish as a group. In the movie Raise the Red Lantern, many types of customs and rituals were shown. For example, according to the master s tradition, lanterns are lit outside the house of which the master chooses to join for the night. Each night the wives wait to be honored with his presence, bowing in resignation when they aren t chosen, often scheming to be noticed next time. The women soon begin to compete for the lanterns. They are jealous of one another and double cross one another. This brings out a darker side of the women capable of anything in order that their needs are met. This example shows a negative aspect. It is a humiliation of the neglected mistresses. The positive aspect may be the power of the wife who gets chosen. Her needs are being met and she gets to pick the meal for the night.
There are documents that show actual life in the Confucian family in late traditional times in China before the advent of modern Western ways. In the last sixteen century by one of the elders of the Miu lineage made a set of practical instructions. These help people run their household. The main purpose of these rules is to protect individual family members and help united the family. One very important rule of the Confucian family is that under no circumstances should birthdays become pretext for heavy drinking (Document 2 p. 69).
In Raise the Red Lantern, the fourth mistress, Songlian, decided to drink very heavily to celebrate her birthday. This action by her went against the Confucian rule of not drinking to celebrate ones birthday. There is one exception to the rule is the birthday of those who are beyond their sixty-first year, which should be celebrated by their sons and grandsons drinking to their health (Document 2 p. 69). Songlian drinking had a negative effect on herself and the third sister. While she was drinking heavily she mentions an affair between the third sister and the family doctor. If Songlian had not been drinking she would not have betrayed the third sister. I will agree that under in influence of alcohol, unintentionally, bad things will happen.
Raise the Red Lantern shows how the wives were pampered. One way they were pampered they were given personal servants. One could look at this as a positive aspect. Rather than cook and clean themselves they had maids who did things for them. I noticed in the movie the maids were constantly wiping down the furniture. As written in the Family Instructions, the inner and outer room, halls, doorways, and furniture should be swept and dusted every morning at dawn (Doc. 2 p. 71). Once again we see another family ritual being followed. The negative effect is they became too dependent on all the pampering they received. This special treatment was given to them so they would remain dependent women.
If any Confucian rules were broken, strict punishment would be imposed. Document two mentions, family members who deliberately violate family regulations should be taken to the family temple, have their offenses reported to the ancestors, and be severely punished. (Doc. 2 p 71) In Raising the Red Lantern I definitely saw family members being punished. The third wife who was caught having an affair with the doctor is put to death. Songlian witnesses the death and accuses the household servants of being murderers after she follows them and finds the body of the murdered wife. To her accusations, the Master says, You saw nothing . The Master is following Confucian rule by having the third wife put to death. Having an affair was going against Confucian rule if you were a women. But on the other hand if you were a male you could have discreet affairs with household maids or professional entertainers. The purpose of such strict rules against women were so they would stay faithful to their husbands. It also shows how women were second to men.
In the film Raise the Red Lantern when Songlian first arrives she is given a tour of the Master s mansion. One room she told is very important is the dining room. It is here where all her meals will be eaten with the other wives. This is yet another ritual that must be obeyed. This ritual could be seen as positive because it brings the wives together.
But if one were not present at dinner, all the others would gossip and create problems within the family. One night when the Master is at Songlian room she persuades him to allow her to have her meal sent to her room. This makes the other sisters very angry because she is breaking a family regulation.
Another tradition that was seen at the household was visitations. When Songlian arrived she was told she must visit the other sisters. This particular ritual seems positive. It gave the women time to talk and get to know one another. Some secrets and lies were discovered at some of these visits; which then turn visitations into a negative effect on the family life.
In a Confucian family having a son was most important. This allowed the family to continue to grow. It also gave the mother a proper place in the family. In Raising the Red Lantern Songlian lied and said she was pregnant. During the time she was pretending to be pregnant the Master stayed with only her. She had meals in her room. She felt very powerful. This announcement had a positive effect on Songlian life. But when the doctor revealed she was not telling the truth, her life became very negative. This was a very serious and wrongful thing to do in Confucian society. He had her lanterns covered. This meant the Master know longer visited her.
At the end of Raising the Red Lantern, we see Songlian went mad after the family murdered the third sister. In Confucian when punishment involves death, I believe that the system has a negative effect on itself. In many incidents we see how the women were oppressed. They had no freedom.
In conclusion I see many negative effects with the Confucian traditional family. There were major different rules and priorities within the family. The male was in control and had power over the family. While we see the Confucian rituals had an abusive effect on women. Sons were raised differently than daughters. As it turns out though, some positive effect could be seen as the family thought as a group rather than on personal terms. Some of these Chinese family traditions definitely led to family instability.