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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Women in Zhang Ailing's short stories : an insight into her vision of life and place in Chinese literature Le, Nga


My ultimate goal in writing this thesis is to define the uniqueness of Zhang Ailing's vision of life, based on specific meanings detected in the formal aspects of her fiction, and to assess Zhang's artistry in the context of Chinese literature. I proceed, first, by analyzing the reciprocal relationship of form and meaning in Zhang Ailing's short stories. The formal aspects of Zhang's works reveal meaningful details about the oppressive situations of her female characters. The way they each respond to their situations differs by their aggressive or submissive characters, and conformist, independent or rebellious thoughts. Their antiromantic attitude characteristically reflects the author's vision of life. Zhang's thoughts and emotions which constitute this vision of life will be inferred, next, from details related to her female characterization, but also beyond these confines. It is interesting to peel off Zhang's reputation of being a stern, emotionless writer and perceive underneath it her psychological and moral preoccupations, and underlying emotions. Conversely, I will elicit the influence of Zhang's vision of life on her aesthetic expression. Finally, Zhang's originality and talent can only be assessed accurately in light of the traditional and modern Chinese literary background. Continuities can be established regarding her female topics and characterization; but a stronger feminine consciousness is discovered in Zhang's works. The traditional Chinese lyrical expression is creatively dissimulated behind her symbolic use of environment and impressionistic description of people. Zhang's mastery of the unity of form and content, her vivid style and use of cinematic techniques in literature greatly enhance her artistry.

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