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Snow Flower and the Secret Fan

Background information on Confucianism, Chinese history and culture for Lisa See's novel Snow Flower and the Secret Fan

David Robinson

on 9 January 2014

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Transcript of Snow Flower and the Secret Fan

Snow Flower
and The Secret Fan

obey her husband
as a wife
obey her father
as a daughter
obey her sons
in widowhood
Cultural and Historical Context
Three Obediences
Four Virtues for Women
proper speech
diligent work
modest manner
(Ren) Humanity
Respect of Superiors
Filial Loyalty
(551-479 BCE)
Confucian Virtues
People can be molded and cultivated by education and by the virtuous example of superiors. Force and threats are ineffective controls; only internalized values can produce correct behavior
Legend has it that footbinding began during
the Shang dynasty (1700-1027 BCE),
ordered by an empress who had a clubfoot.
But historical records date the practice to a later
dynasty: An emperor was captivated by a concubine,
a talented dancer who bound her feet
to suggest the shape of a new moon
and performed a "lotus dance."
Tiaping Rebellion
Led by Hong Xiuquan (1814–1864), a frustrated candidate in the civil-service examinations and a self-proclaimed Christian, the Taiping Rebellion (1851–1864) seriously challenged China's Qing dynasty (1644–1912) and was the largest rebellion in Chinese history.
The Taiping Rebellion occurred in a period of unprecedented crisis, when the Qing dynasty was plagued by an exploding population (the population tripled in two centuries to exceed 430 million by the 1850s) and challenges from Western powers that it could not meet, as evidenced in its defeat in the Opium War (1840–1842).
Achieve Benevolence
Achieve the Way
Attain Nirvana; become a
Bodhisattva to alleviate the
suffering of others
Basic Message
Live in accordance to nature
Look to nature, not to humanity
on how to deal with life.
Yin-Yang symbol (Harmony of Opposites)
"Therefore just as we take advantage
of what is, we should recognize the
usefulness of what is not."
Three Founder of Daoism:
Yang Zhu (440-360 BCE)
Laozi or Lao Tzu (somewhere in 403-221 BCE)
Zhuangzi or Zhuang Zhou: (369-286 BCE)
Right Speech
The Eightfold Path
Right Thought
Right View
Right Concentration
Right Mindfulness
Right Effort
Right Livelihood
Right Action
Karma: situation of rebirth
depend on deed of previous life
Full transcript