What has happened to Confucianism. For a long time, Confucian was accepted as the idea that a healthy society depended on a solid traditional family. Confucius himself, for example, called for people to put principle above selfish desires. People supported hierarchy. The rulers moral example would inspire the people to live good lives.
But one begins to detect a new theme emerging in society especially amongst the Chinese reformers: the theme of individualism oppose to familialism. Today, would the Confucian family be more and more aware of abuse to women and children? The rituals and traditions can be seen as both positive and negative. The ways in which women suffered affirm that some rituals were abusive. There are multiple signs indeed that something has gone badly wrong with the Chinese family traditions that led to family instability.
To begin with, one of the major problems that hindered the Chinese family is customs and rituals. On the other hand, some of these family traditions allowed the family to flourish as a group.
In the movie Raise the Red Lantern, many types of customs and rituals were shown. For example, according to the master’s tradition, lanterns are lit outside the house of which the master chooses to join for the night. Each night the wives wait to be honored with his presence, bowing in resignation when they aren’t chosen, often scheming to be noticed next time. The women soon begin to compete for the lanterns. They are jealous of one another and double cross one another. This brings out a darker side of the women capable of anything in order that their needs are met.
This example shows a negative aspect. It is a humiliation of the neglected mistresses. The positive aspect may be the power of the wife who gets chosen. Her needs are being met and she gets to pick the meal for the night.
There are documents that show actual life in the Confucian family in late traditional times in China before the advent of modern Western ways. In the last sixteen century by one of the elders of the Miu lineage made a set of practical instructions.
These help people run their household. The main purpose of these rules is to protect individual family members and help united the family. One very important rule of the Confucian family is that under no circumstances should birthdays become pretext for heavy drinking (Document 2 p. 69).
In Raise the Red Lantern, the fourth mistress, Songlian, decided to drink very heavily to celebrate her birthday. This action by her went against the Confucian rule of not drinking to celebrate ones birthday.
There is one exception to the rule is the birthday of those who are beyond their sixty-first year, which should be celebrated by their sons and grandsons drinking to their health (Document 2 p. 69). Songlian drinking had a negative effect on herself and the third sister. While she was drinking heavily she mentions an affair between the third sister and the family doctor. If Songlian had not been drinking she would not have betrayed the third sister. I will agree that under in influence of alcohol, unintentionally, bad things will happen.
Raise the Red Lantern shows how the wives were pampered. One way they were pampered they were given personal servants. One could look at this as a positive aspect. Rather than cook and clean themselves they had maids who did things for them. I noticed in the movie the maids were constantly wiping down the furniture. As written in the Family Instructions, the inner and outer room, halls, doorways, and furniture should be swept and dusted every morning at dawn (Doc.
2 p. 71). Once again we see another family ritual being followed. The negative effect is they became too dependent on all the pampering they received. This special treatment was given to them so they would remain dependent women.
If any Confucian rules were broken, strict punishment would be imposed.
Document two mentions, “family members who deliberately violate family regulations should be taken to the family temple, have their offenses reported to the ancestors, and be severely punished.”(Doc. 2 p 71) In Raising the Red Lantern .