Homosexuality in Ha Jin's the Bridegroom

Topics: Homosexuality, Sodomy law, Havelock Ellis Pages: 3 (917 words) Published: March 31, 2005
History of Homosexuality in Society
Throughout the course of history, the topic of homosexuality and its acceptable behavior has been one of varying opinions and much heated debate. Although how tolerated homosexual behavior was all through history can differ depending on who your source is, most everyone can agree that a few large cultures were either strongly for, or against, homosexuality. One key player in the fight against homosexuality was the all-powerful England. The first English civil law against sodomy was passed by Parliament in 1533. "In Act - 25 Henry 8, Chapter 6 which begins "Forasmuch as there is not yet sufficient and condign punishment appointed and limited by the due course of the Laws of this Realm, for the detestable and abominable Vice of Buggery committed with mankind or beast", and goes on to define it as a felony punishable by hanging until dead." (Rutledge 137) In 1861, the death penalty for sodomy was abolished; thereafter, the punishment for this sex act was life imprisonment. Police monitored Molly Houses, or brothels, for male prostitutes, and those who visited were put to death. In the late nineteenth century, medical science added to the negative evaluation of homosexuality. The medical profession grew in influence and, almost without exception,

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physicians diagnosed homosexuality as a form of illness, as we see in Ha Jin's "The Bridegroom." Baowen, the homosexual in the story, was committed to a mental hospital near the City of Muji, located in China, to "cure" his homosexual urges. At first, the opinion among doctors varied as to whether homosexuality was acquired or congenital; with the ascendance of Freudianism the acquired model became dominant. Prolific medical literatures, as well as records of treatment, suggest that many doctors viewed homosexuality with dread. "Remedies included castration, hysterectomy, lobotomy, electroshock, and aversion therapy." (www.college.hmco.com) One particular physician...
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