Ghosts and other kinds of spirits are a common element that has been found in different kinds of stories throughout different cultures around the world. The place which they hold in Chinese culture has created many different practices and traditions, both serving and honoring them. Some ghosts are good, while some cause trouble and bad luck, and others are your ancient ancestors who require special offerings.
Reading from Strange Tales from a Chinese Studio, a compilation of many ancient Chinese ghost stories, was captivating, inspiring me to take a closer look at the stories we were also analyzing in class. This investigation lead me to pick up certain tones and themes that were common in the readings, specifically regarding the roles both the women and the men took on.
Women are the often in the line fire in these tales, while men, no matter what they do, are always the hero left alive at the end. There is a weakness seen in the women that is not written for the men. The women in their roles can be manipulative, but also be cowardly and ineffective, rarely helping and often present as the catalyst for disaster. This can be explained by that the female roles are usually ghosts, greedy and sly, taking whatever they wanted. These qualities are written for the reader to interpret and understand that it is the women who play tricks on the men.
Fox spirits are mischievous little demons that can cause more trouble than one would imagine given their name. Classically, they are represented in the stories as women who are irresistibly beautiful and charming. Their devilishly good looks help them enchant their prey; any man who looks their way. Time spent with a fox spirit is said to be euphoric and the absolute pleasure, which becomes addicting for those who they seek out. The Cult of The Fox, provided me with a wealth of information regarding these beings, proving they are just as mysterious as they are written. It is said that the great nine-tailed fox sits as one of the Queen Mother of the West’s animal attendants. This creature holds a significant place in the culture of China, and they are more than often highly regarded. The author recounts her families own experiences paying tributes to fox spirits, in which she tells how her mother was always afraid of the alter when she was young. This understanding of fox spirits in daily life is critical when understanding daily life as portrayed in an ancient tale.
I present my research as an article, as if from a magazine like National Geographic. The article discusses a comparison of the gender roles in ancient China and to those presented in Strange Tales, while also examining the effect these stories have had on Chinese culture. I have chosen this style because I am familiar with the article style and have chosen a similar structure when approaching the presentation of my research. I felt this format was appropriate for the subject, since it allows me to weave the stories, and snapshots of actual ancient China, closely with my paralleled research. This approach will allow for an interesting way of presenting the material, and allow for colorful pictures and expressive scene setting, that a standard research paper may not have room for.