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Dream of the Red Chamber Research Papers

World literature research papers written on Chinese literature often study the work of Tsao Hsueh-chin and his novel Dream of the Red Chamber. Paper Masters custom writes research papers on Chinese literature and can focus on the great works of China or any Asian literary work you need explicated.

Tsao Hsueh-Chin’s Dream of the Red Chamber (Hung Lou Meng) is, in the words of translator Chi-Chen Wang, “the greatest of all Chinese novels”.  Inside is portrayed a world of reality and unreality, a human drama of husbands and wives, cousins, brothers and sisters, servants, retainers, actors and concubines. The House of Chia, a wealthy family in Imperial Beijing, owners of two mansions, Yungkuofu and Ningkuofu, holds five generations and innumerable servants, and is “a world in itself” according to Mark Van Doren.  Often it becomes difficult for the western reader to distinguish among the various Tai-tais, Nai-nais, and Ku-niang, but at the heart is the unrequited love story of Pao-yu and Black Jade.

Dream of the Red Chamber

Dream of the Red Chamber - Tsao Hsueh-chin

Tsao Hsueh-Chin wrote his novel at a time when novels were not fashionable, and it is believed he created the work out of his own family experiences .  The character of Pao-yu is the author himself (or a romanticized version), intended to be “a complete failure” as Chin described himself.  But Pao-yu is an unrecognized genius, “one of those exceptional beings who are born under a special set of circumstances and who are not generally appreciated and therefore often misunderstood”.  Chin must have felt like so many frustrated geniuses of creativity that feel their uniqueness inside but are looked down upon by the rest of the world.  Such “complete failure” attitudes would be in keeping with worldly frustration.

Chin’s novel must have been his outlet during a frustrating life, and so Pao-yu remains in the company of the women of the house, a safe haven where he is doted upon and allowed to remain free from the burdens of the outside world, something Chin himself was never allowed to do.  By remaining in the house, Pao-yu need never struggle to make a living.  In the house his failure will not show, and the devotion of Black Jade, Precious Virtue, Pervading Fragrance and the others will keep him happy.  That is why Kao Ou’s ending seems so false and out of touch with the rest of Tsao Hsueh-Chin’s work.  When Pao-yu actually applies himself and passes the Examinations, it is out of character.  How can Pao-yu, with his “special destiny” (evident by having the magic jade in his mouth at birth) become a civil servant?  Certainly even coming in seventh is not a special enough destiny.  Pao-yu represents the dreams and aspirations of a man who saw himself as a failure.  Beyond every other theme in the novel remains the author telling a story of his family, a look at a past China (in the days of his grandfather).  Pao-yu/Tsao Hsueh-Chin is the eyes and ears of the story.

Chinese History

A traditional look at Chinese history would survey a roll call of men:

In The Dream of the Red Chamber, the principal characters are women.  Chia Yuan may have been the “First Lord of the Yungkuofu,” but the power structure descends from his daughter-in-law Madame Shih .

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