Chinese Culture

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
communists did away with many of the old traditions and
started to modernize the country. A new generation brought
new ideas, and technology slowly started to replace tradition
(6). 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. Works
Cited (1) Movie: "Raise the Red Lantern". (2) "Six Records
of a Floating Life" By Shen Fu, Advisory Editor: Betty
Radice. Published 1983 by Penguin Books. (3) Movie: "The
Forbidden City". (4) Lecture On China: Mrs. Larsen
11-27-96. (5)