From ‘Dream of Red Chamber’ to Explore the Marriage System

2118 Words Mar 6th, 2012 9 Pages
From ‘Dream of Red Chamber’ to explore the marriage system in imperial China ‘Dream of Red Chamber’, written by Cao Xueqin in the eighteenth century, is the first Chinese novel which used a love tragedy to convey the message of the miserable marriage life of the Chinese. It was a common practice for author to turn a love tragedy into a happy ending instead. For example: in ‘The palace of eternal youth’, despite troubles in the present life, the two main characters, Li Longji and Yang Yuhuan, were able to be with each other in their future lives after death, with the help of heavenly Emperor. Since ‘Dream of Red Chamber’ made such a breakthrough in Chinese literature, this paper will focus on how he love tragedy between Jia Baoyu, Lin …show more content…
Moreover, the fact that having offspring is ranked so high in choosing a bride can also be reflect by the seven reasons for a man to divorce his wife to be permitted, which is recorded in ‘Liji’ written by Confucius. The seven reasons are as followed: barrenness, licentiousness, failure to serve parents-in-law, loquacity, theft, jealousy and dread disease. From this, it is clear that having offspring has top priority in a marriage. Another saying of Mencius also sum up how Chinese look at the matter of bearing offspring: ‘There are three ways to be unfilial; having no sons is the worst.’ This saying suggests that two things about having offspring. First, just like mentioned before, the importance of having offspring in imperial China. Second, is that having offspring seems to be a duty of a son only, hence, getting married is to fulfill the duty of a son in serving his parents instead of to be with the love ones.
Second criterion is the social status of the bride. This is the most understandable criterion, which many of us in the present time would still take into account when choosing partner. Back in the imperial China, most concern would be places on the financial background. Marriage is the beginning of a new family therefore a certain amount of money is necessary.
And the last criterion is the virtue of the bride. This is because the
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