A Burden or a Source of National Pride?
Asian History, Research Paper, Semester #1
October 15, 2010
Asian History Paper
The Construction of the Great Wall
By: Sohini Mukherjee
The Great Wall, (built in Ancient China during 220-206 B.C.E. by China’s first emperor, Qin Shi Huangdi), was a source of national pride for the Chinese, and at the same time a constant reminder of sacrifice and the tyrannical wrath of their leader. “The Great Wall stretches for 8,851.8 km; made up of 6,259.6 km sections of actual wall, 359.7 km of trenches, and 2,232 km of natural defensive barriers such as hills and rivers” (Crowley) The construction of the Great Wall took centuries of hard labor to build, taking with it the lives of millions of innocents peasants. The Great Wall no doubt ably had many positive benefits: it was originally built to protect the Chinese from nomadic tribes called Xiong Nu, to act as a signaling outpost telling soldiers if they were enemies nearby, but it also united China together. However, the construction of the Great Wall was a very tedious affair, it demanded the employment of millions of innocent peasants, where they were slaved till death working in sadistic and strenuous conditions, more often than not over-worked and under-fed. Qin Shi Huangdi, intoxicated with the ardor of his power, did not care about how many innocent lower class people died, he only cared about the construction of his Great Wall and the personal benefits that he would get out of it, e.g. of how it would make him seem like such a better emperor. For the Chinese, the great wall was a national landmark that made them proud, but at the same time, it was a continual reminder of how much they had sacrificed for its completion.
Despite the magnitude of negative feelings attached to the construction of the Great Wall, the Great wall was a symbol of China's power, it’s affluence, and the capability and adeptness of the government of being to able to build such an ambitious project; it showcased its power and prominence as one of the most powerful countries at the time. No doubt ably, the completion of the construction of the Great Wall was an astounding feat. To be able to build a wall as grand as that, and of that scale, without the help of modern day technology and machines, using only manual labor and sheer will power, was and still is quite the impressive achievement. The fact that the Chinese government could get such a multitude of peasants to work on the construction of the wall shows just how demanding the government could be, and how much the people respected/were intimidated by the government to abide to their every whim. “Today, the Great Wall has lost its military function, but as a great ancient engineering work, its magnificent beauty and austere structure are still worthy appreciating,” marveled INSEAD professor Ilian Mihov. The Great Wall might be a marvelous structure to look at it for it’s beauty, but it also played a pivotal role in the development of China.
Once the construction of the Great Wall was finished, its benefits were no doubt ably very rewarding to the Chinese. It provided protection to the Chinese people because its defense and walls were solidified to keep invaders from the north out. The Great Wall also led to China becoming more isolated from the rest of the world; it was hard for foreigners to get in because its sole purpose was to protect China from “barbarians”, so in turn it helped unify China to develop as a whole, meaning that everyone in the country had the same principles, religion, spoke the same language, etc. Another triumph of the Great Wall was that it also provided protection to the economic development and cultural progress of the country, meaning that the economy would be very stable and that China’s cultural would continue to...