Honours theses in the Department of Chinese Studies
Performing the Chinese Nora:
Male-constructed Nora figures in Lu Xun's Regret for the Past and Mao Dun's Creation.
Victoria Sanderson, May 2010 (Supervisor: Dr Yiyan Wang)
This thesis examines Lu Xun's Regret for the Past and Mao Dun's Creation as examples of the significant role that the main character of Ibsen's play A Doll's House, Nora, played in male-authored twentieth-century Chinese literature. As the years progressed, Nora and her story were appropriated by writers who explored her possible fate in the Chinese context. These authors, largely members of the intellectual elite and predominantly male, constructed the Chinese Nora as a literary trope who reflected women's new-found liberties and Chinese society's modernisation. Judith Butler‘s notions of gender performativity and Simone de Beauvoir‘s analysis of female alterity will be employed to demonstrate that the writing (and thus controlling) of liberated Chinese Noras became metonymic of a process of cultural assertion on the part of the male intellectual elite. The use of male narrators and protagonists ensured female silence within fictional works, and so too inadvertently guaranteed that the narrative settings in which Chinese Noras were liberated were dominated by men. It is shown here that despite their iconoclastic calls for the reform of attitudes to gender roles and identities, the male intellectuals' literary works betray their tendency to contain the female Other within the masculine discourses of their narratives. Thus in Regret for the Past and Creation, Chinese Noras, while ostensibly liberated and modern, are ultimately constructed within the narrative as a female Other for the articulation of the modern male‘s subjectivity.
Download the complete thesis.
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