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ART ENCOMPASSING MORALS:
CHINA'S FIFTH GENERATION FILMMAKERS
8 JUNE 1998
Chinas Fifth Generation films are a treasure trove filled with the richness of ancient and modern Chinese culture. The extraordinary emergence of these films within the political quagmire of Communism is a stunning reflection of the Chinese qualities of perseverance and creativity against tremendous odds. Two Fifth Generation filmmakers, Chen Kaige and Zhang Yimou, have managed to give the world amazing films, uniquely embodying Chinese sensibilities and yet highly accessible to international audiences. Film is a powerful art form, influencing viewers subconsciously in the assimilation of information. It may be one of the most potent tools in the transmission of culture. An expert mix of Western cinematic style, traditional Chinese themes and values, and modern Chinese culture, these Fifth Generation films have much to teach western students, serving to enhance a well rounded understanding of modern China.
An historical overview answers many of the questions that arise regarding the phenomenal emergence of Fifth Generation films. Rewriting history was an inherent aspect of Chinese Communism. China was a diverse nation struggling to achieve philosophical and political uniformity, as well as radical modernization. During the Cultural Revolution the socialist government insisted that creative expression in literature and film serve Communism. Thus, historical "reality" was metamorphosed into philosophical principles, and stories told within this historical context were allegorical. Films were not made to simply entertain, but to serve as powerful tools in the creation of a new social order. This wasnt such a new idea. Beijing Opera encompassed similar tenets. "the moral is one of the most important elements, as well as one of the most prominent features, of Chinese drama" (Beijing 1).
From the 1950s to the 1970s (excepting 1968 and 1969 when production came to an official standstill), films conformed to strictly formulaic standards. They conveyed a utopian ideology, attempting to inspire the construction of a new culture in which traditional forms of rural culture were synthesized with "official" discourse (The Power 941). After Maos death, Dengs Reform Decade brought about a shift in official media. As China began to interact in the global economy, attempting to attract foreign capital, more and more of Chinas intellectuals were exposed to global culture. The government saw the need to reassess official history. Revolutionary Romanticism began to take shape. More spontaneous productions began to emerge. These factors appear to have allowed the development of a society in search of a redefined ideological identity (The Power 927). This tension between official dogma and cultural transformation created a space in which Fifth Generation filmmakers Chen Kaige and Zhang Yimou found their niche.
The 1980s were the Decade of Emancipation. Young filmmakers like Chen and Zhang began to produce films that appealed to a broader audience. They adopted a much more Western style of film making. Yellow Earth (1984) was one of the first films - a combined effort with Chen directing and Zhang as cinematographer - that succeeded in attracting international acclaim. Up to this point, film production was largely shaped by the limited funding of the Chinese government. The recognition which Yellow Earth brought the new filmmakers also brought an infusion of foreign investment to the strapped production companies (Zhang 2). Zhang then directed Red Sorghum (1987). With its debut, Zhang became the penultimate Fifth Generation upstart - just in time for a government crackdown.
With all of the international and financial success, why did the Communist government crack down on Chen and Zhang? The answer probably lay in the tension between the political dogma and cultural transformation that had allowed their emergence in the first place. "Chen and Zhang shared a common purpose: to leave behind the political abstraction and symbolism of earlier Chinese filmmakers and depict the works of politics and ideology on a more human level." (Chinese Fifth Generation 172) Perhaps their goals were even more far-reaching. Historically, Chinese Confucianism and then Communism both insisted on the sublimation of the individual to the government, and thus, the ultimate good of society as a whole. Chen and Zhang not only gave their stories a more human face, but a more intimate, human face expressing " desperate personal needs." (Yimou 5) Though their stories tend to be traditional dramas such as the heartbroken lovers as in Ju Dou (1990), the early years of the Communist Revolution as in Yellow Earth and To Live (1994), or the more decadent and corrupt Old Society as in Raise the Red Lantern (1991) and Shanghai Triad (1995), they are also political allegories covertly criticizing the government. This caused " strong criticism at home in China: they were regarded as insufficiently respectful of official dogma .Their aesthetic concern for visual and narrative subtlety was regarded as elitist, overly sophisticated for Chinese mass audiences." (Chinese Fifth Generation 172) As the Wests enthusiastic appreciation of Fifth Generation films promised more investment, the Chinese authorities were torn between progress and reaction. "[Chen and Zhangs] films hailed [by the West] were precisely those the government clamped down on." (Raising 75) As a result the Communist government has waffled between crackdowns and allowances.
Chen and Yimous films, though represented in adopted Western cinematic style, were truly indigenous culturally and thematically to China. This "cultural detail and national specificity" (Chinese Fifth Generation 172), combined with Western style, gave Chen and Yimous films their artistic importance in the international realm of filmmaking. In Yellow Earth Chen masterfully gave the audience images of the isolation and abandonment of the peasants during the early years of the Communist Revolution. He enriched the story even further by presenting the characters as small and seemingly vulnerable individuals enveloped by the vastness of nature - perhaps an allegory for the individual citizen lost in the all encompassing authority and power of Communism. His hero was a Red Army soldier sent to the far off Shaanxi Province to collect old folk songs in order to give them contemporary lyrics, reminiscent of the Feng collected by the emperor to get an idea of the state of the common people. But in the case of Yellow Earth, the common people seemed to be forgotten. Though on the surface, Yellow Earth appeared to abide by the standards held by the authorities, it was still subtly critical of Communism. Chen revisits this theme of the all powerful government abandoning and perhaps destroying the suffering people in Shanghai Triad. Shanghai Triad is his most western style film. It depicts the victimization innocent and impotent individuals struggling to exist under an all-powerful gangster boss and his patriarchal umbrella. A good allegory for the Chinese people versus the Chinese Communist Party.
Zhangs film, To Live, once again allegorically presented covert criticism of Communism. " that the intervention of the Chinese Communist Party into history meant only disaster for the Chinese ." (Allegory 16) Additionally, Chen may even be insinuating that the Cultural Revolution caused the absolute dissolution of the Chinese family and state (Allegory 16). To Live may also suggest that much of the new order is comparable to the old order - that Neo Confucianism can be compared to Communism. Communism simply replaced the Qing Dynastys Neo Confucian dictatorship, still requiring the absolute submission of the people to the government. Power corrupts. To Live appears to reflect a fairly accurate chain of events in 20th century China. Though Zhang seems to portray the official events accurately, he casts them in such a way that the film becomes a condemnation of the "democratic dictatorship" of Communism.
There is a " moral ambiguity that distinguishes the work of the entire Fifth Generation; its anti heroic attitude that sets them apart from previous [Chinese] filmmakers ." (Zhang 4), especially in combination with their Western cinematic style. Yimous character, Ju Dou, is horribly abused by her husband. Defiantly, she has an elicit affair with her husbands adopted nephew, Tianqing. Zhang is superbly adept at layering his themes. At one point in the film Ju Dou realizes that Tianqing has been secretly watching her when she takes her morning bath. She decides to participate in this intimacy. The audience is led to believe that she will give him an erotic display to encourage him. Unexpectedly, she reveals her blackened and bruised back to Tianqing. "A stunning substitution for Eros ." (Zhang 5) The set of an ancient, behemoth of a dye mill emanates ancient Chinese tradition - heavy and suffocating and gives the audience an understanding of the extremes to which our heroine and hero go in pursuit of love, absolutely flying in Confucius face! It may be, though, that Zhang is also making a critical statement about the suffocation and abuse that occurs within not only traditional Chinese culture, but the Communist regime as a whole. His beautiful, languid lighting and cinematography highlight the richness and texture of Chinese sensibilities while giving backbone to the drama.
Both Chen and Zhang appear to have done something quite remarkable: created characters that are no longer submissive and resigned to fate. Both filmmakers seem to be making the statement that " unbridled tyranny met by unquestioning submission is revealed to be equally part of the old and new societies .[They seem] to suggest that the slavish mentality cultivated in their subjects by the earlier rulers simply paved the way for the more brutal oppression of the modern age" (Chen, Farewell 87).
Zhangs Raise the Red Lantern and The Story of Qui Ju are intimate looks at the subjugation of women to power. Zhangs films tend to focus on the plight of women in China, both past and present - a subject politically acceptable as gender and the emancipation of women were strong selling points of Communism. There was nothing more powerless than women in China. The plight of women lends itself immensely as an allegorical vehicle regarding oppression. Its also not surprising that his films center around struggling heroines as Gong Li, Chinas most adored and respected actor, was Zhangs lover for much of his career until recently. Their partnership produced astounding films of great richness and beauty.
With all the international acclaim, offers of investment abroad, and scathing criticism and official stonewalling at home, why dont Chen and Zhang take their talents and go West? Both filmmakers are Chinese. The unique attributes of their films are adamantly Chinese. It would not only be impossible to make these films abroad, but it would effectually destroy their unique voice and cultural specificity that empower them. Chen and Zhang have learned to walk the fine line with the authorities, and are expert in achieving their goals. It is a credit to them that they chose to remain in China, telling their versions of her story.
Fifth Generation films are inherently watchable and wholly satisfying for their stories alone. Western viewers willing to struggle through the codification will find themselves further rewarded for their efforts. Chen and Zhang have not only produced great films, but a venue through which the non-Chinese may access the "mysteries" of Chinese culture, past and present. It is the most accessible format available by which Westerners can glean information on modern Chinese values and ideology. Combined with official propaganda and the study of traditional Chinese literature, history and aesthetics - the films of the Fifth Generation will enrich as well as entertain. They are important, not only to China, but to the world.
Ansen, David. "Raising the Red Flag; Film Festival Scuffles with China Over Star Director." Newsweek Oct. 9, 1995: 74-76.
Beijing Opera and the Cultural Revolution. Humanities 210 Handout [unpubl.]: Culture and Literature of Asia. Ed. Cora Agatucci. Central Oregon Community College, Bend, OR, Spring 1998.
Brent, Willie. "Chinas New Pictorial Revolution." Variety Feb. 16, 1998: 9-10.
Chen Kaige, dir. . Farewell My Concubine. Ed. Pei Xiaonan. Videocassette. Miramax Films, Maverick Picture Company and Tomson (HK) Films Company, Ltd., 1993.
Chen Kaige, dir. Shanghai Triad. Ed. [ ]. Videocassette. Shanghai Film Studios, Alpha-Films, UGC Images and Le Sept Cinema, 1995.
Chen Kaige, dir. Yellow Earth. Ed. [ ]. Videocassette. Guangxi Film Studio, 1984.
Chen, Pauline. "Farewell My Concubine." Rev. of Farewell My Concubine by Chen Kaige. Film Comment Mar. - Apr. 1994: 85+.
Chinas Fifth Generation. Humanities 210 Handout [unpubl.]: Culture and Literature of Asia. Ed. Cora Agatucci. Central Oregon Community College, Bend, OR, Spring 1998.
Confucianism. Humanities 210: Culture and Literature of Asia Course Packet [unpubl.]. Ed. Cora Agatucci. Central Oregon Community College, Bend, OR, Spring 1998. 147-149.
Corliss, Mary. "Fin de Siecle." Film Comment July - Aug. 1995: 11-15.
Hsueh-Chin, Tsao. Dream of the Red Chamber. Trans. Chi-Chen Wang, 1958. Abridged Anchor Books edition New York, New York: Doubleday, 1989.
"In the Censors Toils." The Economist Nov. 12, 1994: 115-116.
Johnson, Brian D. "Shanghai Triad." Rev. of Shanghai Triad by Chen Kaige. Macleans Feb. 5, 1996: 57.
Klawans, Stuart. "Zhang Yimou: Local Hero." Film Comment Sep.-Oct. 1995: 9-10.
Kraicer, Shelly. "Allegory and Ambiguity in Zhang Yimous Shanghai Triad." Cineaction Spring 1997: 15.
Lu, Alvin. "Chen Kaige." Film Comment Sep.-Oct. 1997: 72-77.
Romney, Jonathan. "Shanghai Triad." Rev. of Shanghai Triad by Chen Kaige. New Statesman & Society Nov. 24, 1995: 33.
Stern, Christopher. "China, Hollywood Hug and Thaw Out." Variety Nov. 7, 1997: 4-5.
Timelines of China 4 & 5. Humanities 210: Culture and Literature of Asia Course Packet [unpubl.]. Ed. Cora Agatucci. Central Oregon Community College, Bend, OR, Spring 1998. 124-129.
Wall, James M. "Shanghai Triad." Rev. of Shanghai Triad by Chen Kaige. The Christian Century Sep. 13, 1995: 836.
Xiao, Xiaoyu, Heisey, D. Ray. "Liberationist Populism in the Chinese Film Tian Xian Pei: A Feminist Critique." Womens Studies in Communication 19.3 (1996): 313-333.
Xiaoming, Chen. "The Mysterious Other: Postpolitics in Chinese Films." Trans. Liu Kang, Anbin Shi. Boundary 2 24.3 (1997): 123-149.
Zha, Jainying. "Killing Chickens to Show the Monkey." Sight & Sound Jan. 1995: 38-40.
Zhang, Xudong. "The Power of Rewriting: Postrevolutionary Discourse on Chinese Socialist Realism." The South Atlantic Quarterly Summer 1995: 915-947.
Zhang Yimou, dir. Ju Dou. Ed. Du Yuan. Videocassette. China Film Company-Production Corporation, 1990.
Zhang Yimou, dir. Raise the Red Lantern. Ed. Du Yuan. Videocassette. [Production Co.], 1991.
Zhang Yimou, dir. The Story of Qui Ju. Ed. Du Yuan. Videocassette. Sil-Metropole Organization and Beijing Film Academy, 1992.
Zhang Yimou, dir. To Live. Ed. Du Yuan. Videocassette. Era International (HK) Ltd. Production, Shanghai Film Studios, 1994.
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DREAM OF THE RED CHAMBER & THE QING DYNASTY
excerpt unsigned by student request]
DR. CORA AGATUCCI
6 JUNE 1998
[Dream of the Red Chamber , by Tsao Hsueh-Chin. [d. 1764], was written in the eighteenth century during the time of the Qing Dynasty.]
. . . .In the novel, the author Tsao Hseuh-Chin described the lifestyle and decline of the Chia, Shih, Wang, and Hsueh families. The Chia family seemed to represent the group as a whole, and many events within the families seemed to represent the reality of the time. The four families were followed through several generations and the struggle for power by different family members comprised many a chapter. [Corruption, feudal politics, economic exploitation, social turbulence, and decline of the Chia clan depicted in the fictional world of the novel parallel the situation of the actual world of Tsao and the Qing Dynasty.]
. . . .The books author related the Chia family to the feudal politics and corrupt officials of this dynasty when he wove the story of Chia Chen purchasing a title of official rank for his son, Chia Jung. For the price of a thousand ounces of silver to the Ministry of Civil Service, Chia Jung received a special appointment, and the family received prestige and power.
Lady Wang decided to suppress the servants to maintain absolute rule. Wang Shan-paos wife led a search of all the maids rooms. The search served as a large-scale repression of the servants by the Chia family, just as the [Qing] emperor Chien Lung suppressed the peasants.
. . . .Towards the end of the novel the Emperor, who is not given an actual name, brought charges against Chia Chen and Chia Sheh. As a result, they were arrested, the Imperial Guards confiscated their properties, and the Yungkuo and Ningkuo mansions were taken over and searched. The usurious loans made by Phoenix were discovered. . . . In the novel, the search was under the supervision of the prince, a good friend of Yung-kuofu and Pao-yu. The prince used his influence to encourage leniency on behalf of his friends, just as the rulers of the Qing Dynasty granted favors to those who found favor with them. The author again exposed the corruption of the Qing Dynasty officials.
By extrapolating a correlation of the situations and events that took place within The Dream of the Red Chamber to the Qing Dynasty, the reader can gain new insights and understanding into the lives of the people during the rule of the emperors. These insights foster a greater appreciation for living in a democratic country where, unlike during the Qing dynasty, people can choose their educational path and procure employment based on skills. The American constitution provides protection from undue seizure of land, houses, and personal property. The people of China did not have such rights during the Qing Dynasty. They still do not have these freedoms under present communist rule.
The four families, and their lives, served as a backdrop for the love story of Chia Pao-yu and Lin Tai-yu (Black Jade). These two main characters were woven through the novel, and shared a connection through the meanings found in jade. Lin Tai-yus name is "Black Jade," and Chia Pao-yu is born with a piece of jade in his mouth. The jades actual color is never revealed. It is just described as "brilliantly colored jade (Tsao 21). Both of their names contain "yu," which means "jade" (Dream 163). The Chinese, according to a pamphlet from the National Palace Museum, considered jades qualities of form and markings as a means of commanding mystical forces to communicate with the spiritual realm and to obtain divine wisdom (Chinese Jades) One side of Pao-yus pendant was inscribed: "Precious Jade of Spiritual Understanding--Never LoseNever forgetImmortal Life Everlasting" (Tsao 65). Throughout the novel a Buddhist monk and a Taoist priest appeared and disappeared after communicating truth and wisdom to Pao-yu. The jades in the National Palace Museum from the Ching (Qing) Imperial Court frequently bear emblems of the emperor, symbols, inscriptions and marks, so it is no surprise that Pao-yus jade would be inscribed.
The Chinese people still seek truth and wisdom from Buddhist and Taoist priests. Taiwan has thousands worship temples for Buddhists and Taoists, and every village has its own special village temple where the monks and priests can be consulted. Jade is still an important stone for the Chinese people. It is fashioned into pendants for religious symbols, and is considered to have spiritual protective powers. Certain types and styles of jade are quite costly, and are considered signs of wealth. Taipei, Taiwan has a jade shopping district called Jade Alley, and Taichung, Taiwan has an area locally known as The Jade Market. Jade Alley is a collection of small shops that specialize in jade products and jewelry. The Jade Market is a collection of vendors that display their jade and other jewelry on various tables in Taichungs main downtown district. The Jade Market is only open on Saturdays, and if one can recognize good quality jade and speak enough Mandarin Chinese to barter well, wonderful items, including carved jade pendants, can be purchased very reasonably.
There is a cicada form of jade, meaning a jade carved stone. These were decorative jade pendants, such as Pao-yus, worn primarily during the Han dynasty and the Warring period. A male wearing such a pendant symbolized he had the virtue of not going or striving beyond his bounds, and had no political and material pursuits (Artistic Conception). Pao-yu certainly had no desire to learn and study, to go beyond his bounds. He wasnt interested in the political positions he could obtain after passing the Civil Service Examination. He wasnt interested in material pursuits, although the family clan was counting on him to restore their wealth and societal position.
Jade pendants were also worn for protection. The jade was considered to have "vigilant" powers and could warn the wearer about wrong actions he might take due to carelessness, and to guard or protect him from harmful situations (Jade Apparatus). Pao-yus jade was inscribed, on the reverse side, with: "Destroys Evil Spirits--Cures Malignant maladies--Foretells Blessings and Calamities" (Tsao 64). In the novel, the monk reappeared when Pao-yu was on the verge of death, requested the jade piece, stroked the jade, and restored its powers. It was then hung over the doorway and Phoenix and Pao-yu recovered.
Jade stones are categorized into three main color categories: white jades, yellow jades (a greenish yellow), and green jades (Nature of Jade). Black is not a normal and usual color for jade. Black jade is created when white jade or bluish-white jade contains heavy concentrations of hematite, turning it into a grey or black color (Chinese Jades). Lin Tai-yu, Back Jade, was a cousin to Pao-yu. She was an outsider of lower status because her relationship to the Chia clan was through her mother, just as the black color in jade is through the infusion of hematite into white jade. Hematite is a form of metal and in Chinese medicine in the Mutual Control Order of the Five Phases, metal controls the lungs (Kaptchuk 349). Black Jade was physically weak in the novel. She died after vomiting up blood, apparently from a lung disease that is recognized today as tuberculosis.
Pao-yu frequently joined the woman in their quarters. He not only watched them, but also participated in their morning routines. In one instance, described in chapter fifteen, he even tried River Mists rouge when he thought she wasnt looking. For the Chinese woman, the morning ritual of dressing wasnt complete until she had put on her heavy make-up. The make-up ritual consisted of a coat of white powder to make the complexion appear fairer, followed by adding deep pink rouge to lips and cheeks. Eyebrows were considered beautiful when they were arched enough to resemble a willow leaf. This was accomplished by tweezing them and then redrawing them with a pencil or charcoal. More elaborate make-up was applied for gala events. A Chinese woman deleted her usual make-up routine only upon two occasions: a time of mourning and her wedding day (Aero 57).
The National Palace Museum in Taipei, Taiwan contains an entire room filled with clothing, and accessories such as necklaces, belts and ornaments. Also displayed are brush holders, brushes and combs, hairpins, and hairpieces containing woven beads of jade and pearls. Some of these items, all from the Qing Dynasty, are portrayed in photographs contained in the book The National Palace Museum in Photographs (126-130). One can view these photographs and visualize, as Pao-yu did, the women using and dressing themselves with such items. Apart from traditional Chinese theater and certain Chinese festival celebrations, much of the ancient beauty practices have been discarded. Women in Taiwan currently prefer to follow more modern make-up practices.
Beauty rituals were accomplished by the use of a mirror; however, the author tied a mirror to a common rumor regarding a mirror of the Qing Dynasty emperor. Chia Jui became ill and requested to see the Taoists priest who came around claiming to cure sicknesses of the soul. The priest told him he needed the magic mirror to cure his disease of "impure thoughts and self-destructive habits" (Tsao 89). He was directed to look only at the reverse side. Upon following directions he saw a gruesome skeleton starting back at him. He turned the mirror over to find himself wafted into a world where he fulfilled his desires. Chinese mirrors were metal and believed to confer good fortune on the owner and even possess magical properties. Some were decorated on the back with Taoist patterns. The mirrors, called "light-penetration mirrors," were unusual because upon exposure to the sun, the patterns would seem to pass through and be reflected. Hence, Chia Jui was able to waft into a dream world upon looking into the mirror. During the Chin Dynasty Emperor Shih-Huang-Ti supposedly possessed a mirror that could reflect the inner parts of those who gazed into it. Hence in the novel, Chia Jui could see his skeleton in the magic mirror (Aero 163).
The Chinese in Taiwan have Ghost Month during the time period of October. They believe that the heavens open up and allow the ghosts of departed ancestors and other spirits to descend to earth during the time period they call, in English, Ghost Month. To prevent invasion from evil or unwanted angry spirits they set up mirrors. The belief is that the ghost or spirit will see its image, be frightened, and leave the immediate area and not bother them. It is very interesting living in a large Chinese apartment complex with one hundred twenty two Chinese families during this time period because it is one time period during the calendar year when Buddhist and Taoist religious rituals are broadly demonstrated. Mirrors are seen over doorways, on cars, and on worship tables situated outside homes and businesses.
Pao-yu resisted and avoided his fathers attempts to force him to study for the Civil Service Examination. Pao-yu spent some of his time composing antithetical couplets, which did bring some approval from his father. Chia Cheng, however, reprimanded him and told him to study the "types of essays required in the Examinations" (Tsao 111). Wealth and prestige were dependent upon power. Power, both in the novel and real Chinese life, was obtained through the Civil Service Examination. The examination system graded and licensed students with academic degrees, which brought privilege and appointments.
The Chia family was relying on Pao-yu to continue their lineage of wealth and prestige through the power he would obtain. A candidate began his studies of philosophical and historical subjects and the poetical classics of Confucianism as a teenager. Passages in the novel indicate that Pao-yu had a tutor at various times, and that his father held him accountable and quizzed him on what he had learned. Only the high officials, nobility, or the wealthy had the resources to provide tutors and thus the opportunity for advancement once again a commentary on the status of the times.
The Chinese called the examination system pu-pu ching-yun, or Ladder to the Clouds. There were four rungs on the ladder. The first rung was the examination held in each district capital. After paying a stiff fee, the candidate would write for a day and a night in a small cell to obtain his hsiu-tsai , or Flowers of Talent degree. This degree provided minimum elite status. Next came the triennial examinations held in the provincial capitals. The candidate brought his writing instruments, candles, and food to a large area filled with thousands of examination cells each measuring six feet deep and three feet wide. After passing this three day long examination the candidate received the chu-jen, or Scholar degree. The third level of triennial examination was held in the imperial capital. This was the Metropolitan Examination held under the Board of Rites. Passage of this important examination would award the candidate the chin-shih degree necessary to provide the right to hold office. Those that passed would be allowed to become poets, historians, or chancellors in their provinces. Last, there was the Palace Examination that took place on bended knee in the presence of the emperor. The novel indicates that Pao-yu was about fifteen when he started his studies. Candidates were about the age of twenty-three before they took the first examination (Aero 50-51). As an interesting note, one could deduce that the story in the novel took place over a time span of five to eight years.
The same Civil Service Examination system no longer exists; however, Taiwans schools use an examination system to determine which student progresses into certain fields of education. These examinations are conducted at different age levels, and the students path of public education is determined by their test results. Just as the wealthy in the novel and in the Qing Dynasty had money to provide tutors for their children, the Chinese use their financial resources to provide the best tutors and after-school courses for their children. In Taiwan, American educators are considered premier teachers, and seldom lack in tutoring opportunities. The types of school Taiwanese children attend, and the grades on various examinations determine family esteem within the immediate family, relatives and the community.
The author, or the second author, tied the jade, the Civil Service Examinations, and the prestige and power of the Chia family together in the last chapters. Pao-yus jade disappeared, and with it the power that protected him. He was married, through deceit, to Precious Virtue. His family fell from favor with the emperor, and as described in the beginning of this paper, lost their power, properties, possessions, and mansions. His beloved Matriarch grandmother died. He became listless and unable to concentrate and study for the pending examinations. He finally became ill enough that all hope was lost until the monk appeared. Power was restored to the jade, and power was restored to Pao-yu. He took the examination and passed in seventh place. The emperor was very pleased and granted pardon to Chia Sheh and Chia Gen, and restored their titles and properties. The emperor also bestowed the title of "The Immortal of Literary Exquisiteness" to Pao-yu, and thus power and prestige was restored to his family (Tsao 328). The monk who restored the jades power, in the meantime, had enlightened Pao-yu. Pao-yu and the monk disappeared, just as the power of the Qing Dynasty emperor and his rulers disappeared through the uprising of the peasants.
The novel had one last commentary on the Qing Dynasty at the end of the text. The reader will never know whether the correlation was actually intended by the author. Hsueh Pan was thrown into prison and exiled and Cassia seduced his disloyal cousin and tried to poison Lotus. Cassia accidentally killed herself, just as the corrupt emperors and rulers of the Qing Dynasty unintentionally brought about their own fate through repression of their people. Lotus died in childbirth and the novel ended, just as the Qing Dynasty died and exists no longer.
Aero, Rita. Things Chinese. New York: Doubleday & Company, Inc. 1980. 50- 51,57,163.
Artistic Conception. Archaic Jade Definition. Online. Internet. http://188.8.131.52/index1.htm. [accessed 19 May 1998].
Chinese Jades. The National palace Museum. [Taiwan]: n.p., n.d.
Dream of the Red Chamber Narrative Frame. Humanities 210: Culture and Literature of Asia Course Packet [unpubl.] Spring 1998. 163.
Hsiao-feng, Chang, and Tung Min. The National Museum in photographs. n.p. 1986. 126-130.
Jade Apparatus. Archaic Jade Definition. Online. Internet. http://184.108.40.206/index1.htm. [accessed 19 May 1998].
Kaptchuk, Ted J. The Web That Has No Weaver. Chicago: Congdon & Week, Inc. 1983. 347-349.
Nature of Jade. Archaic Jade Definition. Online. Internet. http://220.127.116.11/index1.htm. [accessed 16 May 1998].
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URL of this webpage: http://www.cocc.edu/cagatucci/classes/engl390/390asgmts/tpchina.htm
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