The River Merchant's Wife - An Analytical Study

The River Merchant's Wife - An Analytical Study - Sarovar...

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Sarovar Chandra WRT 102 The River Merchant’s Wife, A Letter An Analytical Study My first reaction to reading ‘The Women Merchant’s Wife’ was that women in ancient China were rather oppressed. According to Ezra Pound’s translation of Li Po’s poem – ‘The River Merchant’s Wife, A Letter’ there seems to be a significant ‘lack of options’ for women living in China in the eighth century. The fact that this poem was written by a man, itself is quite significant as it can only capture a women’s thoughts through a man’s perspective. Does this mean that women were denied freedom of written expression amongst other things as well? I certainly do believe so. And this is not where it all ends – compared to men I think women were denied mobility as well as choice to speak up and voice their own opinions. In the first stanza this is all not very apparent, however as the poem develops one can go back to the first six lines and pick out instances that clearly show women’s oppressed situation in the eighth century in China. In the first stanza Li Po talks about the youth of the girl – who goes on to become the ‘River Merchant’s Wife’. In the first line the poet writes that “while my hair was still cut across my forehead …” Contrarily to our discussion in class, where we felt that such a 1
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Sarovar Chandra WRT 102 haircut is very common amongst young girls, I felt that young girls in China back then did not have any choice in the way their hair was cut. I assume that this was a standard haircut for all young girls, thus making it easier for people to understand that the character of the girl is quite young. Since the haircut is being used as an indicator of age I think that it can
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