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”The Death Of Woman Wang” by Jonathan D. Spence

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  • Pages: 3
  • Word count: 596
  • Category: Books

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The Death Of Woman Wang written by Jonathan D. Spence is a book that describes the condition of community of seventeenth century China. The book is written with the help of three sources and first one is the local history of that time, second is from the memories of a scholar named Huang Lia-hung and the third one is from the works of P’u Sung-ling who was a short story writer and dealt with the hostility and misery of the community at that time. ‘The death of Woman Wang’ depicts the story of a woman who runs away from her husband but was returned to him and is killed by him. With the help of this story Jonathan D. Spence tries to give the picture of women and law of the society of that time. Men were allowed to do anything but women at that time had to be loyal to their husband and family and were treated almost like slaves. The law of that period also favored men and the condition of rural china of that time is also represented in words in the story.

Spence tried to give the readers the realistic view of rural China of seventeenth century and describes how gender effects relation with law. Only one right was given to women of that time that if her husband dies and there is a business to be run, she could inherit the business until her son was capable of running the business. Otherwise even if husbands bet and lost their wives in gamble no law was there to protect them. It was one sided and partial to men. Women were not supposed to raise any voice against the hardships they Page 2 had to face in life. They had fixed duties towards kin and community and they had to fulfill them at any cost. The different stories on different pages describe the situation and condition of women of that period. Women were taught to maintain their chaste, tenacity and opt death at times of rape. In this way with almost negligible facilities and rights women of that period used to live their lives in China. Spence has taken help of three different sources and it is seen that the way the sources are used seems sometimes difficult to differentiate the account of dealing.

One of the sources is historical based and one is fiction, so same situation is dealt in both the sources in a separate way. This effect is seen in Spence’s book, ‘The Death of Woman Wang’. But Spence has depicted the realistic picture of the status of women in community of seventeenth century China. It also shows how each sex should interact with each other and with society too. At that time suicide was considered right according to the moral values prevailing in society because it showed reverent feeling of a wife towards her husband. The selection of the sources by the writer was perfect because the combination of personal experience, history and fiction could be considered as the best combination to depict the real picture of any community of a particular period. Sometimes it is felt that you get entangled in some other cycle and you have to search for the main story. This is so because of the different types of sources and its use to depict the story in an interesting and moral way. The book will make you feel the situation that the people especially women of that period had to face in the society.

Works Cited

1. http://www.academon.com/lib/paper/28116.html

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