Throughout China’s encased history it has developed much differently than western parts of the world. Chinese culture varies greatly compared to ours. These great differences between eastern culture and western culture make China a very interesting place. Some of the vast differences include literature, social structure, and government.
The greatest difference is Chinese philosophy and way of thinking. China has developed a strict system of tradition that has given China great advantages and disadvantages. This is shown in Chinese literature. Tradition in China is a set of unwritten laws. This is why China turned its eyes from the outside
world and looked in. China found everything it needed in Tradition (4). The strong traditions and customs play probably 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 different levels of companionship. One man may have many wives and or concubines. The status of these wives and concubines are very important. The lower you are on the husband’s list
the lower you were treated (1). When in a marriage if you were having children a son would be most desirable for you to have. You would be thought better of if you produced a son. 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 very scholarly (2). A girl, also was supposed to be raise to appreciate art and literature. Most of all though children were supposed to respect tradition. The traditions gave one a feeling of not the individual but the whole as a group.
People grew up knowing their part in the world and strive to do that well. They learn to acknowledge their emperor as the “Son of Heaven” (4). Everything someone does, is done for their county, and their duty in life. Chinese literature shows that when everything is done for tradition and the individual is not priority, many people get forced into a hard and unfair lifestyle. This is shown in the movie “Raise the Red Lantern” when the tradition made the lives of four wives strict and dependent on the master and whom he chose each night. Their lives were so strict on tradition that one of the wives lost her life because that is what tradition said should happen if she broke a rule (1). In other cases nothing could be learned or changed because of the restriction of tradition.
Such was in the movie “The Forbidden City.” In this movie it also showed how the customs of the concubines and unics were very constricting to their lives (3). In the book “Six Records of a Floating Life” tradition creates the impracticality of a test for magistrates that is purely literary but decides the head of a certain area of land (2). In China tradition and customs has done a lot but has hindered the life of many of its people. Finally after thousands of years, the withdrawn 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 the
old traditional weapons of the Chinese were no match for the technologically advanced Europeans. So after Europe defeated Chinese forces and got their foot in the door to China they slow started to enter. After the Chinese saw the new foreigners they started “questioning their own government, philosophy, and social systems” (5). When the foreigners started to build factories and to start gaining
power the Chinese “recognized that if their country was to protect itself against foreign domination, it would have to become a modern nation” (5). This new reason to reform eventually brought about the Communist Revolution. The
China slowly started opening its eyes to the rest of the world. China has come a long way in the past 50 years, from a withdrawn country run by tradition, to a major modern society. This has given its people a chance to choose their own destiny and to be open to the rest of the world. China’s strong heritage and knowledge of the past, show that China is now and will be in the future a great world power.
(1)Movie: “Raise the Red Lantern”.
Radice. Published 1983 by Penguin Books. (
(3) Movie: “The Forbidden City”.
(4)Lecture On China: Mrs. Larsen
Published 1992 by Macmillan/McGraw-Hill.