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On Western Civilization - Essay Example

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Western civilization. 1. The Chinese Maze Murders. The first thing that strikes a modern Western reader when considering the tactics and approach of Judge Dee is that he seems to have great power and very little sense of the limitations of the law. This can be seen the way that he uses threats and violence to intimidate suspects and witnesses, and in the obviously preferential treatment that some people receive…
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Essay on Western Civilization
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"On Western Civilization"

Download file to see previous pages The implication of this statement is that a person might receive different treatment according to the family background that they come from. The death penalty is very common in this society, and it seems to be performed as a public spectacle. As it turns out, Yoo Kee is ultimately killed with a knife and then sliced to pieces in front of a watching crowd (Van Gulik 305). Another surprising aspect of life in the time of Judge Dee is that it is quite acceptable for men to have three or four wives, and these seem to be organized in a strict hierarchy, with a “First Lady” who is in charge, and the others following after with lower rank. There is clearly a lot of competition and resentment within families because of this, and it may be that many of the crimes committed out of love are caused by this situation. There must have been many younger men who could not find a legal partner because the women are all taken by older, richer and more powerful men. The marriages are also arranged for political or financial reasons, and this makes it very difficult, especially for the women, who have no choice in the matches made for them. I would not like to live in this society because of the high level of violence that existed, both from criminals, and from government officials, and because of the very strict separation between different gender roles. The contrast between Dark Orchid and her sister White Orchid illustrates this point perfectly: Dark Orchid is criticized because she is “headstrong” and “should have been born a boy” while her sister is praised for being “quiet and obedient” and having “ a soft, pliable character” (Van Gulik 135). The ideal woman just does what she is told, while any girl with a mind of her own is seen as less attractive. The judge uses Dark Orchid as a spy, and often throughout the novel the men talk to each other about taking wives and buying women for temporary pleasure. It seems that there is one law for men, and another for women, since the punishment for adultery is very harsh for women, while men are allowed to carry on as they please. This is the main reason why I would not like to live in this society. 2. Feudalism Feudalism evolved as a system based on agriculture, which required significant amounts of labor to be organized around manor houses ruled by wealthy noblemen. It allowed a certain amount of stability to be set up, with food being produced in greater amounts, and new trades and specialisms emerging which improved the quality of life for people overall. This is the good side of feudalism. More and better food meant that people were protected from starvation, and they were healthier and lived longer. On the other hand, feudalism was also built on the classification of large numbers of people as serfs, which took away their liberty and made them little more than slaves. The concept of feudal loyalty, based on the gift of land, in return for military service and other obligations is what made the system work so effectively: “With its use of symbol and ritual, its hand-clasping and embracing and taking of vows, the act of homage was not unlike a ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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