Female Gossipmongers and Busybodies and the Value of Their Age: A Textural Search in Chin Ping May
Ching - Su Lin(Department of Applied Chinese, Wenzao College of Modern Languages)
This thesis aims at exploring the various types of marginal female characters —gossipmongers and busybodies—in Chin Ping May, the Ming Dynasty novel of manners. I take the prospective of the physical social space divided by walls, by which the living space of these characters are defined.
The Chinese term for the female gossipmongers and busybodies carries very strong connotation that debases the female sex. It sums up the male sex’s rejection and narrowing this marginal female group. My paper attempts to dig out the root of this particular form of misogyny. These women, outsiders of the patriarchal social structure, defined by the domestic walls, are rendered little value. Thus they belong to the bottom of the social scale. I also analyze each type’s function as well as characteristics, and the features they all share. Furthermore I focus on the society which produces a great number of female gossipmongers and busybodies. I analyze the tense relationship between these female characters and the patriarchal power structure in order to reveal the gender ideology embedded in the society inside the novel. Finally I give these marginal females credits since, in spite of the fact that they fail to achieve self-awareness, with their various professions, they succeed to survive against all the odds against them.
female gossipmongers and busybodies, Chin Ping May, Si Mang Ching, female space, wall