Double Standards of Men and Women in the Raise the Red Lantern

Decent Essays

Throughout time, women have often been regarded as the inferior gender. In China, women have had to go through dire circumstances in order to look good in the public eye. From foot binding to becoming concubines in a prison-like house, women have been through hell in order to please their men. There are a series of double standards and contradictions to how men and women are treated, and this is shown in both Lu Xun and Qiu Jun’s essays as well as in the film set in 1920s China, Raise the Red Lantern. Set the scene: it is China during the 1920s and women do not have a voice. Zoom in to a woman walking into a house that looks like a gray prison-zone. This is her new home. She is the Master’s fourth wife, and her name is Songlian. Raise …show more content…

Lu Xun’s essay, “My Views on Chastity”, was written in 1918, and speaks on how the double standard for women truly existed. Lu Xun was an author ahead of his time, for this is not how the men in old China were speaking. Lu Xun states, “In short, when a woman’s husband dies she should remain single or die. If she meets a ravisher she should also die. When such women are praised, it shows that society is morally sound and there is still hope for China. That is the gist of the matter” (Lu 2). Just as how Lu Xun shows China’s dependence on the chastity of women, Raise the Red Lantern does as well.
The women are subjected to the ideas of how men believed the perfect woman should be: pure. The third wife shows how women in China were supposed to be pure and devoted to only their husbands. After having an affair with the doctor, the third wife was to be hanged because of the family’s old customs and traditions. Even though the Master thought fondly of her (he often chose to stay the night with her), it was not enough to save her from being exiled. This creates a double standard. Although the Master can sleep with a different wife every night, the second that it is known that the third wife has strayed, she is immediately hanged for her disloyalty. This double standard this is placed on women is portrayed through the entire movie. Songlian was an educated woman; there was a moment in the film when she wished to play her flute, and, upon finding it missing, she

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