October 25, 2007
IAH 207 – Section 18
The Cultural and Societal Impacts of Lu Xun’s Work during the May Fourth Movement in China
For centuries, China has produced many influential and predominant writers, but Lu Xun,
writer of “The Madman’s Diary” and “Call to Arms”, was not seen as one of those writers until
after his works were understood and accepted.
Individualism, freedom of speech and anti-
traditionalism are just a few of the things Lu Xun stood for, which was often misunderstood and
misinterpreted by both left and right wing sides.
Lu Xun, unlike many traditional Chinese
writers, took a chance and put himself, his career, and his beliefs on the chopping block.
wrote controversial works of literature, such as the two listed above, during what I believe is
China’s most critical time period to date, the May Fourth Movement.
What we study as the May Fourth Movement of 1919 was a cultural revolution of its time
and to this day.
The May Fourth principle highlighted everything that traditionalism did not,
promoting ideas such as “anti-traditionalism, democracy, science, enlightenment, individualism,
evolution, nation, and revolution” (CP 194, 291).
The May Fourth movement attempted to pull
devout followers of Confucian thought away from that sort of infectious belief and towards a
culture more “westernized” in both thought and action.
This monumental period in history
completely remodeled China and brought with it a more diverse and accepting Chinese culture.
Lu Xun was seen as a major player throughout this movement and provided those trapped in
traditional culture a source of inspiration not seen in many other works.
He gave them the
strength and courage to stand up and speak out on the problems in China’s society that were
historically ignored for so long.
Lu Xun stands as one of the main writers that acknowledged
China as a country where individuality and freedom of speech were extinct.