dream of the red chamber

A study of The Story of the Stone. Suggested topics:
The parodox of  (as both barrier and path) in Baoyu enlightenment
Women and sexual ideology in The Story of the Stone.
Confucian masculinity in The Story of the Stone.
Prospect Garden and the meaning of Chinese Gardens
The Dialogue between Confucianism and Buddhism in The Story of the Stone.

*at least 6 academic sources
*at least 6 quotes from the book











Women social status and religious in the dream of the red chamber.

































Keyword: Xue BaoChai, Lin DaiYu,


In the dream of the red chamber, it illustrates Chinese women’s sorrow in the Qing dynasty in many different aspects. Cao XueQing , the author, has delivered the ideology of Confucianism, Taoism, and Buddhist through the book. It reveals the dark side of feudalism society.


The main part of the story is from ideology of Confucianism which relates to thoughts of Virtue and Morality. For example, Jia BaoYu is



“The social standards by which women are graded into good and bad center on the issues of chastity and fidelity, standards with historically changing implications, but never more rigid than during the Qing dynasty” (Ropp, 1976: 5)


  1. 1.     Confucianism and BaoChai

In Confucianism’s  idea, “A woman without talent is virtuous.”

“A woman’s hair is long but her vision and knowledge are short”

Patriarchal and misogynist ideologies need not assume obviously coherent forms to function successfully. Rather, they are fraught with internal contradictions and ambiguities which function simultaneously and seemingly abrasively to establish a patriarchal gender order.

  1. 2.     Taoism and Dai Yu

Ideology of Taoism and Legalism are contrary. Taoism prefers naturalness and peace which means human should not making laws to control ourselves. Instead we should follow the law from the nature.


Dai Yu has the familiar spiritual mind with Zhuang Zi(Taoism and  Chinese philosopher). Her personality has shown the Taoism’s culture and spiritual mind. In a complex and danger environment, she rejects fame and wealth.  Indeed, she is pursuing the freedom from physical and spiritual; she is pursuing the eternality from the spiritual mind.


However, Dai Yu is a pessimist. She has abundant emotions in her mind. She is frankly and honestly. Dai Yu reflects a person without a powerful family background to try to survive in a big family. Though she is” supercilious, self-confident, and without any regard for the world below,” (Chapter 5) she is very careful about her manner.

She knows her situation very well,  “now that I am going to her home, must I be careful at every step, and circumspect at every moment! Nor must I utter one word too many, nor make one step more than is proper, for fear lest I should be ridiculed by any of them!” (Chapter 3)

She is trying to protect her own Self-esteem. At the same time, she offends some people. These people look down on Dai Yu. It can be seen when Dai Yu is talking to Bao Chai.



  1. 3.     Legalism and XiFeng

3.1 Two faced

The core idea of legalism can be explained as “two-faced, three knives”(Chinses: liang mian san dao) which means the t

Undoubtedly Xi feng is represented the ideology of legalism in dream of the red chamber. She used “cruel torture” to manage the family issue.

“What!” exclaimed lady Feng, as she forced a smile, “is it you who have been remiss? Is it because you’re more respectable than they that you don’t choose to listen to my words?” “Your servant,” he pleaded, “has come at an early hour every day; and it’s only to-day that I come late by one step; and I entreat your ladyship to forgive this my first offence.” “If to-morrow he were to come late,” lady Feng then remarked, “and if the day after, I were to come late; why by and by there’ll be no one here at all! I should have liked to have let you off, but if I be lenient with you on this first instance, it will be hard for me, on the occurrence of another offence, to exercise any control over the rest. It’s much better therefore that I should settle accounts with you.” The moment she uttered these words, she put on a serious look, and gave orders that he should be taken out and administered twenty blows with the bamboo. When the servants perceived that lady Feng was in an angry mood, they did not venture to dilly-dally, but dragged him out, and gave him the full number of blows; which done, they came in to report that the punishment had been inflicted.(Chapter 14, Story of the Stone)

It perfectly shows the characteristic of lady Feng. There are more examples described how she used cruel tortures to servants. Two faced is about torture and virtue (Chinese: Xing yu de). Xi Feng shows her virtue, when she is dealing the relationship with old goody Liu. The first time

3.2  Three knife

The first knife is Xi Feng’s Power(Chinese: quan shi). Her original family is a big family.  “If the dragon king wants a white jade bed, he applies to the wangs of Jingling, it’s said.”  This is showing her status. After Xi Feng comes to Jia family, she is pleasing to Grandmom Jia, and Lady Wang. Hence, she gets more power than other women in Jia family.

The second knife is Xi Feng’s managing stategy(Chinsese: shu). It can be seen from two parts of the story. One is “Wang Xi Feng maliciously lays a trap for Jia Jui” in chapter 12. Another one is how she is “killing someone with a borrowed knife”. She used Qiu Tong’s pungent to let second sister Yu chosen to suicide. From these two incidents, we see a sinster Xi Feng.

Last one is law(Chinese: Fa). Her law is concentrating on dealing Roung guo’s house issue. After she controls the household issue in Roung guo’s, she has solved the chaos problems in Roung guo.

“As I’ve been asked to take over the charge,”“I’m, needless to say, sure to incur the displeasure of you all, for I can’t compare with your mistress, who has such a sweet temper, and allows you to have your own way. But saying nothing more of those ways, which prevailed hitherto among your people in this mansion, you must now do as I tell you; for on the slightest disregard of my orders, I shall, with no discrimination between those who may be respectable and those who may not be, clearly and distinctly call all alike to account.”..  she went on to order Ts’ai Ming to read the roll; and, as their names were uttered, one by one was called in, and passed under inspection.  (Chapter 14,story of the stone)

The author has made a interesting point here. Xi Feng has made her own laws (fa) in the family, and her last name is Wang. It becomes “Wang Fa” which simply means the highest law in the family. This shows her authority and her ambition.














































Edwards, Louise, “Representations of Women and Social Power in Eighteenth Century China: The Case of Wang Xifeng,” Late Imperial China, 14.1 (June, 1993). DS754/.C5332


Edwards, Louise, “Women in Honglou meng: Prescriptions of Purity in the Femininity of Qing Dynasty China,” Modern China, 16.4 (1990). DS777.55/.M56

Susan Mann, Precious Records: Women in  China’s Long Eighteenth Century

Li-Hsiang Lisa Rosenlee,  Confucianism and Women, SUNY, 2006



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