"Down with Confucianism!" "We want Mr. S and Mr. D!" These were some of the cries that could be heard in the streets of China on May 4, 1919. This date marked the high point of the student movement known as the May Fourth Movement. Following the humiliation at the Paris Peace Conference after the end of the First World War, Chinese students and intellectuals began to voice their opinions on where they thought their country should be headed. These members of society realized a change was needed in order for China to survive in the changing world. Confucianism, the secular philosophy which the Chinese had followed for centuries, was singled out as the main culprit for the current demise of China.
[...] One of the main successes of the May Fourth Movement was improving the lives of women throughout society, and Lu Xun was at the heart of this accomplishment. His heart-wrenching tale of Xianglin's Wife showed his fellow countrymen that changes needed to be made. After the movement came to a close, the practice of foot binding had been ended and women had gained more freedom and equality. Throughout much of Chinese history, the education system was centered around the studying of the Confucian doctrine. [...]
[...] If only the people of China, Lu Xun believes, can see as the madman does, then the country has a chance to change and begin a new chapter in its long and proud history. When Mao Zedong came to power following the Communist Revolution, he praised Lu Xun, hailing him as the “commander of China's cultural revolution”. Mao understood Lu Xun's enormous impact on both the May Fourth Movement and Chinese thought in general. The characters found in Lu Xun's short stories allow the author to voice his opinions and feelings in the only way he knew how; his writing. [...]
[...] Lu Xun's characterization of Weifu could be seen in many young Chinese who were becoming trapped in the “Iron House” and needed someone help awaken them in order to escape. The one character that serves as the perfect medium for Lu Xun to voice his opinion is the madman from Madman's Diary”. Taking a page from western literary characters such as Sophocles' Tiresias, Lu Xun uses a social outcast, the madman, to make the Chinese hear his pleas. Though one is blind and the other insane, both Tiresias and the madman are the only figures in their respective works who are able clearly see the situation. [...]
[...] The children, Lu Xun believes, are simply an extension of the parents and unless something is done, they, and China, will suffer a similar fate. The second most attacked group by Lu Xun in his writings was the upper- class gentry. While there can be no doubt that he was indignant towards the indifferent attitude of the toiling masses, he gradually was able to discover the virtue of simplicity and innocence of China's common people. This made him mercilessly criticize the Confucian gentlemen and the so- called literati section of society. [...]
[...] While these four stories are full of symbolic commentary on China, it is the characters in these tales that really bring Lu Xun's criticisms to life. The characters in the stories are taken from all the social classes, allowing the readers to identify with one of the characters and hopefully realize what changes needed to be made. The most powerful criticism by Li Xun is held for general population of Chinese society. It is these masses, such as the ones he saw in the film watch their friend being executed, for whom he held the most contempt. [...]
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