"Talent and Character": the Portrayal of Women in "Worthy Ladies," A New Account of Tales of the World
Chia-Ling Mei(Department of Chinese Literature, National Tsing Hua University)
The purpose of this thesis is to examine, from the dual perspective of “feminine virtue” (婦德) and “talent and character” (才性), the portrayal of women in “Worthy Ladies,” A New Account of Tales of the World (世說新語), and then discuss the mixed condition of female traits, and spirit of the time, which emerged from their convergence at the levels of family, society, and politics. The paper points out the following: the “four virtues” (四德)—feminine virtue (婦德), feminine speech (婦言 ), feminine appearance (婦容), and the feminine work (婦功)—make up traditional Chinese society’s demands upon women; however, because of the esteem given to the lady of talent, character, and poise during the Wei and Jin periods, women’s speech and behavior, in many respects, surpassed the frame-work of the “four virtues.” The mutual convergence between “feminine virtue” and “talented character” not only reveals the complex nature of the particular feminine characteristics present in “Worthy Ladies” but also exhibits a certain spirit of the era.
A New Account of Tales of theWorld (世說新語)。