Rulers, Gender and Values in the Asian Literary Works Essay

July 16, 2021 by Essay Writer

Updated: Jun 9th, 2020

History, as well as literature, usually teaches people how to behave, understand the values, and live in accordance with the expectations and norms set. However, when literature and history are combined, the effects and roles of such sources of information turn out to be more educative and helpful. The current paper focuses on the three Asian literary works: Kuan-Chung’s Romance of the Three Kingdoms about the Chinese values, Narayan’s Ramayana about the Southern morals, and Shikibu’s Tale of Genji about the Japanese style of life.

These three historical novels help to understand better the essence of the role models and ideas of how ideal rulers, men, women, and values should actually be regarding the required standards and obligations: men are destined to be rulers, good or bad, women have to support their men and know exactly their place in a society, and values cannot be broken even if personal wills contradict the social rules.

The readings under consideration have much in common as they are based on Asian history and depict almost the same values and ideals. Still, it is also possible to find out some details that make each work a unique ability to understand the reasons of why men and women were treated the way they were and why it was impossible to change something.

The Japanese values and role models are perfectly presented in The Tale of Genji. A good ruler will never put his own demands over his duties and professional needs. In spite of his personal ambitions, he should never demonstrate his true intentions and wishes in case they can influence his ruling. This is why to be a good leader means to be a good man, who perfectly understands his task to be a guardian for his people. Opposite to men, Japanese women should stay behind their men and support them. The example of Genji’s mother shows how she “survived despite her troubles, with the help of an unprecedented bounty of love” (Shikibu, 2011, p.3) and proves that even if women had to take responsibilities for something, they still cherished the dream to love and be loved, and some women enjoyed their happiness.

The romance of the Three Kingdoms by Kuan-Chung is another example of how “liberal and amiable, albeit a man of few words, hiding all feeling under a calm exterior” a man and a good ruler should be. If women had nothing to do but raise children, look at the house, respect all values and standards, and be obedient wives and members of a society, men got a chance to use their wisdom, knowledge, and experience and try to change the world for better as it was their destiny that could not be neglected.

Finally, “The Interlude” in Narayan’s Ramayana explains how definite and sometimes cruel the relations between men, women, and their duties could be. When Rama said Sita the following words, it became clear that any emotions or feelings do not play a crucial role in gender relations, but the faith and religion do matter: “My task is done. I have now freed you. I have fulfilled my mission. All this effort has been not to attain personal satisfaction for you or me. It was… to honour our ancestors’ codes and values” (Narayan, 2006, p. 161).

In general, the chosen readings help to realise that the human past was not ideal, still, it taught people how to become better regarding personal wishes, ideas, and dreams and respecting social norms and standards that cannot be broken or neglected. As soon as a kind of balance is found, people understand how happy and satisfied they can actually be.

Reference List

Kuan-Chung, L. (2011). Romance of the three kingdoms. Clarendon, Vermont: Tuttle Publishing. Web.

Narayan, R.K. (2006). The Ramayana: A shortened modern prose version of the Indian epic. New York, NY: Penguin Books. Web.

Shikibu, M. (2014). The Tale of Genji. Web.

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