Name: Instructor: Course: Date: Raise the Red Lantern-Feudalism and Nationalism The movie, Raise the Red Lantern would on the surface appear like any other film exploring the intricacies of relationships and explaining the place of women in the Chinese set up…
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It represented a shift from the highly disintegrated feudalism state to a more centralized and harmonizing nationalism. Though China is not exactly a model in nationalism the new system that was heralded in the 1920s represented the best nationalism approach in the Chinese scenario. Raise the Red Lantern as mentioned was a movie set in the 1920s a period in the Chinese history referred to as the warlord era and which came several years before the Chinese Civil War. The main actors in the movie are Songlian and Master Chen. Songlian is a young and focused girl whose progress was cut short following her father’s death. Following the father’s death Songlian was married of by her step mother. She is married to Master Chen the present leader of the powerful Chen family. Songlian is to become the fourth wife/mistress of Master Chen who at first treats her with great preference and she is subjected to unmatched attention. However, as time progresses she realizes that the treatment is not standard but a preference accorded to the wife who Chen chooses for the night. The movie’s title is a reference to the choice made by Master Chen; the ‘raised red lantern’ is a symbol of the house in which Chen chooses to spend the night. Realizing that the raised red lantern is a symbol Songlian becomes aware of the fight she must keep up with to ensure that she receives maximum attention from Chen. All the mistresses silently suffer and sustain this fight as they are all focused on getting the best out of Chen. Some like Songlian go to an extent of feigning pregnancy which is later discovered to be just a charm. Embroiled in this competition for attention Songlian ruthlessly exposes her servant Yan’er who plays a part in exposing her fake pregnancy. Yan’er accused of being in love with the master is punished by kneeling out in the snow and later collapses having refused to confess. Songlian also does the same with the third mistress, this time she confesses about Meishan’s love affair with Shen’s doctor, Ghao. As is standard for all adultery cases, Meishan is hanged to death. These events appear to greatly distress Songlian who eventually runs mad as a result of emotional trauma. The events and the underlying themes can be described in the context of the structuration theory which was developed by Anthony Giddens. The theory which has attracted a fair share of critics can be used to understand social interaction or social set up (Modenbach 4). As a theorist, Giddens notes that individual’s capacity to make choices is limited by knowledge and that individuals do not have the absolute freedom to make these choices. In trying to explain social life, Giddens notes that it is not solely dictated by social forces. He thus perceives social life as a result of human agency and social structure. In this case, he recognizes the action of human beings (agents) as responsible for reproducing the structure (Ehrenhard 70). At the same time, the structure which defines set out roles, traditions, and moral codes restricts the conduct of human beings. In this case, structure avail a common frame which facilitate agency. However, human agency and structure cannot be independent of each other as each has a causal effect on the other. In the context of feudalism and nationalism, the movie leaves a trace of each of the systems. As a representation of feudalism, we recognize the authority of Master Chen who holds absolute control towards her wives
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