Asian Literature: Wu Zetian, Essay Example

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Essay

Introduction

Since the 1970’s, a majority of Chinese women have been involved in writing literature. This is due to the reformation of Chinese economic policies that opened China to the outside world. Women writer in China experienced a lot of gender bias and thus they opted to express this bias through writing. They wrote articles that were read throughout the entire world. Chinese women writers have gradually developed in to a group of social activist that raises issues affecting the Chinese women. This study aims at revealing the gender roles of Chinese women writers in the society. To achieve this, this study has analyzed the literal works of a famous female Chinese writer to show the linkage between the female writers and the Chinese women cause in general. In addition, the study analyses how the writer has been able to overcome the gender imposition on her a female.

Only a small number of Chinese women have had the opportunity of holding real power. Several women have been oppressed and their presence unrecognized in the society. Wu Zetian is an empress and a woman of her own kind. She existed during the era of Tang dynasty and ruled China directly. She was recognized for her determination to eliminate her enemies. Wu deployed different means in the course of her works. She used both murder and diplomacy to destroy her enemies (Chen and Dilley 12). Apart from eliminating her relatives, she also went ahead and destroyed their relatives.

Wu Zetian becomes the favorite among the emperor of Taitsung community. At only 14 years, Wu had already gained fame and her wit and beauty made her outstanding.

As an empress, Wu attended and participated in the deliberations of the council and gave orders that were aimed at punishing her enemies. Her orders were never ignored by anyone. This includes the government officials and relatives. Her word was law and anyone who ignored it meant an immediate death sentence (Wolf, Witke, and Martin 21).

Since the beginning of 660, Wu took over control of the state directing all the affairs of the state. She established a strong system of informers who served her with all the information she wanted. Wu worked with impunity terrorizing all arms of the government. She punished or eliminated any member of the community that challenged her. Her enemies were faced with her times even if they belonged to her community. The mandarin’s family was in opposition of her, but she managed to bring them down destroying them unconditionally. With her cruel nature and mechanisms, she turned widows and daughter of her enemies to become slaves. She forced them to work for her implementing orders given by Wu. The emperor was weak and could not do anything to rescue the innocent victims. The emperor was in a state of ill health following the heinous act of his wife. It is assumed that, during the last days of his life, he developed characteristics of a blind man. The abnormal swelling of his head brought this. He was taken to a doctor who declared that the swollen part had to be tapped. Wu Zetian did not give consent to this. She said declared her stand saying that any person who lays his hands on the face of the emperor was committing a crime. According to Wu, such a crime was only punishable by death. The doctor had no powers to oppose her and held on to her decision. The doctor managed to convince Wu, and later agreed to his decision. After punching of the swelling, the eyesight of the emperor improved markedly. The empress was not happy, but she managed to hide this by pretending. Later on, the emperor suddenly died, and there were no witnesses. Wu- zetian was left as a mistress and in charge of the empire for another 22 years (Chen and Dilley 33).

Wu Zetian was a woman who had a superior ability and better skills, when it comes to management of state affairs, Wu was indeed better than her husband was. Her husband was dominant and lacked leadership skills. This gave Wu an upper hand since she was a complete opposite of him. Wu became the pillar of her family as well as the entire state even in the presence of her husband. She gained more fame and respect compared to her husband (Dien & Wu hou 41). She put a lot of energy that made her administrative machinery continue to operate. As much as the empire was faced by tragedies, she always gave guidance that brought success. During her reign, China was able to recover the four states that had been conquered. At this time, her destructive relationship with the Turks intensified. They both carried out raids on each other fighting for slaves.

Wu Zetian solely managed to conquer all odds and obstacles in her internal affairs. She became an indomitable woman who received respect from everyone in the society. She possessed an ardent audacity that saw her go to the extent of deposing her only son. Her son, Chung –tsung was to take over the empire after hid deceased father. Without opposition, Wu went ahead and proclaimed herself the emperor (Dien & Wu hou 77).

An attempt revolt by the princes saw her head cut off. The prince had become tired of being ruled by a former concubine. In an effort aimed at gaining support against her enemies, Wu sought to reconcile with the Turks. She realized that it was crucial to bring the raids to a halt. She organized for a marriage between her nephew and one of the Turk’s sons, but this did not go through as the Turks opposed. The Kaghan of Turkey could not allow her daughter to get married to the nephew of a serpent. They were in support of Wu’s son who had been set aside. Her son was to be the legitimate emperor. Chun-tsung declared himself the legitimate emperor and issued a threat demanding the restoration of the Tang dynasty. In his threat, he even offered to carry out the restoration by himself. This shocked Wu zetien and started recognizing the rights of her son. Truly, Wu continued to rule the dynasty by herself (Wang 78).

Since she had the assurance of being in power, she did everything that she desired. Wu developed an interest in Bubhism. This strong feeling towards religion was perceived as a neighbor to her cruel impulses. She developed different ways of showing her devotion to religion. First, she gave an order and superintended the sculpture of a well-known Buddha together with his entourage of Buddhist.

The reign of Wu Zetian was ending. The public had an unusually hostile opinion of her. Even the Turkish had threatened to use force to effect emperor Chung tsung. Wu continued to rule with the help of the Chang brothers who were her favorites. This was even after a plot to hatch her (Chen and Dilley 43).

In the year 705, one day in the midst of the night, the conspirators who were tired of Wu invaded her palace with arms. On their way to the palace, they met with the powerless Chung tsung; they took him and immediately proclaimed him the emperor. They then dragged him into the apartment belonging to Wu. The empress who had already aged was woken up from sleep only to find herself and without any defense. Her favorite defense team had been slaughtered and laid at her feet. Despite all these, she still tried to resist by intimidating Chung tsung. The conspirators did not let her go any further as one of them held a dagger on her throat. They succeeded in forcing her to step aside (February 22, 705). She suffered from chagrin and a few months later, she died. At the age of eighty-two, Wu died having achieved what many women had failed to achieve, especially at her time when women were not meant to be leaders and decision makers. She ruled the entire empire, stepping onto her husband and son to achieve her dreams, despite being a female. She conquered all the obstacles that stood in her way and defeated all her enemies.

Literature

Besides Wu’s literal work, her court mainly focused on literary activities. Her 46 poems are among the poems that form a collection of Chinese poems, Quantangshi. This means a collection of Tang poems. Her 61 essays, all under her name have also been recorded in the Quantangwen. Many of her writings serve political purposes apart from one, which she expresses, her despair after her mother’s death. In this poem, she grieves of not being able to see her mother ever again. In addition, during her reign as an empress, she sponsored many works that were produced by the imperial court (Wang 43). Such works include the anthological poetry of her court referred to as the collection of precious glories. This collection carried poems from varies poets of China. The poems were arranged according to the individuals’ rank at the court. Numerous literal developments took place during the reign of Wu zetian. Among these developments is the stylistic development seen in the “new style” poetry. She also put scholars to task as they were ordered to create an institute that was supposed to produce the collection of biographies of famous women.

Evaluation

Although the Zhou dynasty was short lived, historians are of the opinion that it brought a sense of equality in both sexes.

As the Tand dynasty took over, Wu Zetian was given a positive evaluation at that time. This was because her ideologies had not dominated the entire China, and all the emperor were directly under her power. However, subsequent years were characterized by harsh criticism of Wu.

In relation to her life’s events, a number of connotations characterize literary allusions associated to Wu

  • As a Chinese woman, who has used inappropriate ways to step her bounds.
  • As a hypocrite preaching compassion, while at the same time being involved in corrupt behavior.
  • Ruling the state by a pattern of pulling strings in the background

For centuries, Wu was highly regarded as the most appropriate illustration of how a woman can destroy a state if left to be in charge. In the late 1990’s, Wu received support from Mao Zedong’s wife who wanted to succeed after her ailing husband (Chen and Dilley 49).

The Chinese history is filled with mixed views over Wu. Some view portray her as a figure to be admired due to her energetic ability to govern the state while some blame her for her engagement in seizing the imperial power.

Many people mourned when Wu stepped aside from the throne. They were worried that the dynasty will fall. Empress Wu had the audacity of strangling her own daughter to death while she was still an infant. This ability and willingness to crush her own flesh to death showed how powerful a devil she was. She was extremely vicious and vile. Nonetheless, her actions are something that could also be done by any jealous woman. She saw her acts as being righteous and considered herself to be rightfully honored. Eventually her son received the rightful rule from her. She ended up making peace with the society. She brought to an end the secret police officials that were terrorizing the community. She listened and honored honest advice given to her. She suppressed the officials who were her favorites and asked for forgiven from those whom she had offended (Chen and Dilley 56).

Conclusion

It is obvious that China’s policy for modernization has brought about western feminism. There has been continued debate on the importance of gender, the great need to give focus to women and their collective consciousness. It is clear that criticism facing the literal feminist in China, has emerged at a time when women writers are being supported to explore the various factors affecting women in society. After 1987, women started writing articles that discussed women being liberated. According to a survey conducted by China’s women writers in 1980’s and 1990’s, they found out that there was a difference in perception of gender in the Chinese society. This was seen as the first phase of the new economic reforms.

According to Chinese traditions, women were not allowed to ascend to power. However, Wu Zetian had a determination to conquer the opposite. Even the use of secret police did not stop her as she continued to rule after taking over the forbidden throne. Her critics accused her administration of being reluctant in issuing promotions to government officials. Despite this, Wu considered herself capable of carrying out evaluations on the performance of officials who were in office. In her song, the Dynasty, she comments on these criticisms.

The empress-deployed use of title that ensured people was submissive to her demands, and fired those who showed resistance or proved to be incompetent. She believed in the power of punishment and awards as a way of recognition. She was in total control of the state and did not consult anyone during decision-making. She made decisions based on her personal judgment. She was keen in making observations thus coming up with convincing judgments. Even the people who had exceptional talents valued being used by her.

Works Cited

Chen, Huihua, and Dilley, Whitney. Feminism/Femininity in Chinese Literature Volume 18 of Critical Studies. Rodopi: Rodopi, 2002. Print

Dien, Dora Shu-fang & Wu hou (Empress of China). Empress Wu Zetian in Fiction and In History: Female Defiance in Confucian China. Shanghai: Nova Science Publishers, 2003. Print

Wang, Zheng. Women in the Chinese Enlightenment: Oral and Textual Histories

ACLS Humanities E-Book. California: University of California Press, 2009. Print

Wolf, Margery; Witke, Roxane and Martin, Emily. Women in Chinese Society Studies in Chinese Society. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2009. Print

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