Jung Chang’s 1991 novel, ‘Wild Swans’ gives the reader a significant insight into a period of uncertainty and insecurity in Chinese history. From the novel the viewer is able to identify universal issues which are still prevalent today. Feminism recurs throughout the text as the women fight for respect as their society faces turmoil, using the communist rein of Mao as their opportunity for equality. Wang Yu represents the public as his own values clash with that of the communists. Due to his unswerving loyalty to the party he dismisses his own morals for that of a higher power. Grandfather Wu ‘Er-ya-tous’ attitude is echoed throughout the text as he believed that a women should suppress their emotions and to have no opinion. This is demonstrated as each women of each generation struggles against this outlook and either succumbs or fights against it. Foot binding represents submission to traditional values and conventions, a metaphor for women’s lack of rights. Women constantly modified their bodies to conform to society’s expectations, indicating their lack of dependency and individuality. Power and status is based on a man’s property such as concubines being collected. “it was good for a man in his position to have as many concubines as possible – they showed a man’s status”. This exhibits this period of Chinese history as emotional attachment is removed and women are treated as a possession which bettered her husband’s prestige.
“swallowed opium to accompany him into death”. This establishes that there was no escape from the obedience which is forced upon the women by society. Women’s lives were dedicated to serving their men as they followed them into death. “seen as a means of keeping people like her contented” society wanted people such as concubines to be in a constant haze where there was no chance of critical thinking or rebellion. “The first my grandmother knew..” this demonstrates the grandmothers lack of participation in her own...
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