Interrelationships Between Vietnamese Culture And Literature

1383 words - 6 pages

Throughout Vietnamese literature there are a few themes that are almost always present. Some of the themes are kindness, loyalty, and obedience. Vietnamese literature is the written manifestation of Vietnamese values and society. Throughout almost all of the literary work of Vietnam, this holds true, whether it be a myth, folktale, or other work of creative writing. These themes are taught to children through their parents and the ancient folktales and myths are more like a historical record on the people of Vietnam's culture and values.There are many different stories in Vietnam meant to teach the reader lessons about proper etiquette, or other aspects of proper behavior. In many stories there is often a heroine instead of a hero, because women have always had an equal standing with men in Vietnam. One of the most important values to the Vietnamese people is a wife's loyalty to her husband and viceversa. There are many examples of stories in which heroines striving to remain loyal to their husbands by observing the three submissions, three bonds, and four virtues. These ten values govern proper behavior for Vietnamese women and in order to be a good wife as well as a disciplined, dignified woman. The story "Lady of Nam Xuong" for example is based on the value that women must remain completely loyal and faithful to their husbands. In the story, a woman's husband goes away during a war, and to entertain her son, she makes a shadow puppet on the wall and says it is his father. Upon returning home the father is rejected by his son. The sons says that the man can't be his father because his father comes home to him every night. This leads the man to the conclusion that his wife has been cheating on him, and he thus accusses her so. Even being accused of such a thing was unthinkable, The wife commited suicide because she is being accused. The reason for this is because according to Vietnamese culture faithfulness is very important and the fact that the husband would accuse her, means to her, that she must have don'e something terribly wrong. This was the true extent of the wife's loyalty. She accepted her husband's judgement and exacted a fitting punishment without knowing for sure in what way she was at fault. This is a bit of and exaggeration, but it gets the right point across. One poem often taught to children that is meant to teach female children the Three Submissions and the Three Bonds is called "Song of Family Education." Certain parts of the poem greatly emphasized tradition, and observance of old stories pertaining to the standards for females such as the following excerpt:"Be sure to listen to the old stories.Observe how the virtuous daughters-in-law of the past behaved.Follow the four virtues: appearance, work, correct speech, and proper behavior.Work means cooking rice and cakes,How Neatly the virtuous woman sews and mends!Appearance means a pretty face and dignified demeanor,Not careless and sloppy, everything in place.Correct speech is...

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