Throughout China’sencased history it has developed much differently thanwestern parts of the world. Chinese culture varies greatlycompared to ours.
These great differences between easternculture and western culture make China a very interestingplace. Some of the vast differences include literature, socialstructure, and government. The greatest difference isChinese philosophy and way of thinking.
China hasdeveloped a strict system of tradition that has given Chinagreat advantages and disadvantages. This is shown inChinese literature. Tradition in China is a set of unwrittenlaws. This is why China turned its eyes from the outsideworld and looked in.
China found everything it needed inTradition (4). The strong traditions and customs playprobably the greatest factor in the life of a Chinese person.This strict philosophy influences marriage, children, family,and duty in life. Marriage is much different and has differentlevels of companionship. One man may have many wivesand or concubines. The status of these wives and concubinesare very important.
The lower you are on the husband’s listthe lower you were treated (1). When in a marriage if youwere having children a son would be most desirable for youto have. You would be thought better of if you produced ason. This shows the male dominance in Chinese culture.Once a son was born the expectations for him were great.
He was supposed to learn all great literature and be veryscholarly (2). A girl, also was supposed to be raise toappreciate art and literature. Most of all though childrenwere supposed to respect tradition. The traditions gave onea feeling of not the individual but the whole as a group.
People grew up knowing their part in the world and strive todo that well. They learn to acknowledge their emperor as the”Son of Heaven” (4). Everything someone does, is done fortheir county, and their duty in life. Chinese literature showsthat when everything is done for tradition and the individual isnot priority, many people get forced into a hard and unfairlifestyle. This is shown in the movie “Raise the Red Lantern”when the tradition made the lives of four wives strict anddependent on the master and whom he chose each night.Their lives were so strict on tradition that one of the wiveslost her life because that is what tradition said should happenif she broke a rule (1). In other cases nothing could belearned or changed because of the restriction of tradition.
Such was in the movie “The Forbidden City.” In this movie italso showed how the customs of the concubines and unicswere very constricting to their lives (3). In the book “SixRecords of a Floating Life” tradition creates theimpracticality of a test for magistrates that is purely literarybut decides the head of a certain area of land (2). In Chinatradition and customs has done a lot but has hindered the lifeof many of its people. Finally after thousands of years, thewithdrawn China was being seen by the western world.
Soon after, European explorers slowly started seeping in.China tried to keep foreigners out finally with force but theold traditional weapons of the Chinese were no match forthe technologically advanced Europeans. So after Europedefeated Chinese forces and got their foot in the door toChina they slow started to enter. After the Chinese saw thenew foreigners they started “questioning their owngovernment, philosophy, and social systems” (5). When theforeigners started to build factories and to start gainingpower the Chinese “recognized that if their country was toprotect itself against foreign domination, it would have tobecome a modern nation” (5). This new reason to reformeventually brought about the Communist Revolution. Thecommunists did away with many of the old traditions andstarted to modernize the country. A new generation broughtnew ideas, and technology slowly started to replace tradition(6).
China slowly started opening its eyes to the rest of theworld. China has come a long way in the past 50 years, froma withdrawn country run by tradition, to a major modernsociety. This has given its people a chance to choose theirown destiny and to be open to the rest of the world. China’sstrong heritage and knowledge of the past show that China isnow and will be in the future a great world power. WorksCited (1) Movie: “Raise the Red Lantern”. (2) “Six Recordsof a Floating Life” By Shen Fu, Advisory Editor: BettyRadice. Published 1983 by Penguin Books. (3) Movie: “TheForbidden City”.
(4) Lecture On China: Mrs. Larsen11-27-96. (5) The Human Expression: World Regions andCultures. Paul Thomas Welty and Miriam Greenblatt,Published 1992 by Macmillan/McGraw-Hill. (6) “The JoyLuckClub”, Amy Tan, Published 1989 By The BallantinePublishing Group.