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The Death of woman Wang
The Death of Woman Wang, by Jonathan Spence is an educational historical novel of northeastern China during the seventeenth century. The author's focus was to enlighten a reader on the Chinese people, culture, and traditions. Spence's use of the provoking stories of the Chinese county T'an-ch'eng, in the province of Shantung, brings the reader directly into the course of Chinese history. The use of the sources available to Spence, such as the Local History of T'an-ch'eng, the scholar-official Huang Liu-hung's handbook and stories of the writer P'u Sung-Ling convey the reader directly into the lives of poor farmers, their workers and wives. The intriguing structure of The Death of Woman Wang consists on observing these people working on the land, their family structure, and their local conflicts.
Chapter one, The Observers, in the Death of Woman Wang demonstrates the accuracy of the local historian; Feng K'o-ts'an, who compiled The Local History of T'an-ch'eng in 1673. The descriptive context of the Local History helps the reader to understand and literally penetrate into people's lives. The use of records of the earthquake of 1668, the White Lotus rising of 1622 and rebels rising vividly described by Feng the extent of suffering the people of T'an-ch'eng went through. Jonathan Spence stresses on how miserable the two-quarter of the seventeen-century were to the diminishing population of the county. The earthquake claimed the lives of nine thousand people, many others died in the White lotus rising, hunger, sickness and banditry. P'u Sung-ling's stories convey that after the loss of the wheat crops there were cases of cannibalism. On top of all of this came the slaughtering of the entire family lines by the bandits. The incredible records of women like Yao and Sun in the Local History present the reader the magnitude of savagery the bandits possessed. All of these factors led to the rise of suicides. The clarity of events Spence given to the reader is overwhelming.
On the other hand, Spence losses his reader as he introduces the spread of Confucius and other superstitious believes through out the county. He states that the Local History states that people became unusually superstitious in parts of T'an-ch'eng. Later on he presents the Confucianism and it influence. Confusion especially occurs then he quotes from many different sources and chapters. For instance during the exams of 1669, students were presented with quotes from different chapters, which were supposed to be placed in correct context. An entire paragraph mentions chapters, books and names without any logical order. Of course this may have occurred because of the limited knowledge I have about these chapters.
Spence gives a reader a clear insight in T'an-ch'eng's economy and it's economic policies in chapter two, The Land. T'an-ch'eng government had a rather simple philosophy, the more you made the more you paid. The taxes were paid based on percentage of what you made or volunteer to work for the government. The government did take interest in its taxpayers only then people were unable to pay at all. Local History showed that there was a schedule of nine tax payments. People paid more during the harvest seasons and less during the hottest midsummer months. Structured Chinese government devised a responsible and supervisory system, which insured that the taxes were collected at full without any spillovers. Theft and cheating was a common occurrence at city's market, thus government officials created collecting points for the farmers to avoid direct contact with middlemen. All of the factors presented by Spence give the reader a closer look on the financial struggle of an ordinary seventeenth century farmer.
Furthermore, in part tree, The Widow, Spence urges the reader of woman's values and her characteristics in T'an-ch'eng county. Through the Local History Spence defines the meaning of property in the seventeen century China. Women like any other piece of property belonged to their alive husbands. Unfortunately, because of the levels of disasters in the county, population of males dropped from 40,002 to 9881 males, leaving a lot of helpless widows. Because of the Legal Code in the county, widows alone had a little chance to inherit deceased husband's property. Spence's vivid use of P'eng's story opens the readers eyes ... more
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The Roman Empire
The people were happy. This is the underlying cause of the astounding length of time and space that the Roman Empire occupied most of the known western land. Great rulers met their downfall when they put their own status in front of the well being of the people they govern. When the citizens are left high and dry and not regarded as important to their society then this is when there is an overthrow of power and a new ruler comes into play. Citizens had a place in politics, they have lots of entertainment, they had the best army in the world to protect them, and Rome was the place to live and would be that way for many years.
Many leaders come and go but it is the great ones that we remember, the ones that make people enjoy life. The emperors that are not approved by the people are the ones that turn a new leaf of evil once they have a military victory. The thrill of so much power gives them the urge to be the best in the world. They move on and conquer other nations and forget about their own people. Julius Caesar cared about his people and wanted to be the "ruler for the people," rather than the "ruler of the people." When he gain power of Rome from the hands of Pompey there was no reign of terror, but a policy to restore economic and prosperity to Rome. This period of time in Rome is known today as the golden age of Roman literacy and development. The minds of the people are expanding. Another example of the Roman citizens' happiness and prosperity comes during the rule of Caesar's grandson Octavian, better known to history as Augustus.
Once Augustus rises from the new triumvirate as the ruler of the empire, he introduces different types of social reform that appease the people and keep them on his side. Augustus is a classical man and wanted to bring back the ancient moral to the citizens. He reduced the size of the army and gave soldiers land and money. He imports food and gives it away to the people. Augustus transformed Rome from city of bricks to a city of marble by building temples and basilicas to represent his power as well as his love for the city that he takes care of. At this time people could see that society was prospering and times were great due to a great leader.
Shortly after the rule of Augustus the Colosseum is built under the rule of Vespasian and Titus, completed in 80A.D. The colosseum creates entertainment among the Roman citizens, which keeps them occupied for hundreds of years. The events at the colosseum captivate as well as surprise the citizens. They have never before seen anything like this. Everything from foreign beasts fighting criminals to naval battles on the flooded base of the giant structure. The Roman people became obsessed with this social activity that brought the whole city together. In the third century Emperor Caracalla extended Roman citizenship to every free person who lived in the within the empire. This status symbol could allow one to travel to the far reaches of the land without being harmed by foreign persons. These events in Roman history keep the people's moral high and their patriotism very strong, along with the protection of their superior army.
The Roman army was in charge of keeping the peace in the different nations taken over by Roman emperors. They formed strongholds at the borders of the empire to secure the citizens and keep them safe. Augustus' was a prime commander-in-chief. His
army consisted of 150,000 soldiers and roughly 130,000 auxiliary officers who were all noncitizens. After serving for twenty-four years they would receive citizenship. This imperial army would only grow in size over the next few centuries. Under Trajan the army had grown to about 400,000 soldiers. The army's ability to move across the empire made romanizing of the foreign nations easy. The army kept the empire secure from threatening outside nations and also brought the moral of the citizens to a high point. They were safe from invasion and safe ... more
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