According to the novel “Fortress Besieged”, one of the women to whom the main character Fang is attracted, is beautiful yet aloof and conceited. Miss Su has a PhD in French and an intense dislike for children. The fact that Miss Su is highly educated and shows contempt for children suggests that the woman has no time for marriage. Marriage to her is a series of endless chores taking care of children while husbands while away time in empty pursuits. Miss Su’s arrogance ensures that the only men with money are considered worth any meaningful relationship. Verification of this fact comes from page 18 where one reads “.From that day on, Fang often ate his meals in third class. Mrs Su’s attitude towards him visibly cooled. The theme again leans towards Miss Su showing a tendency of “Playgirl” and gold digging behavior. In another paragraph on page 20, one reads the following claim “A marriage proposal had to be made by the person sopping down to half his height and earnestly entreating the other with an uplifted space”. The interpretation of this is that marriage is basically a one-way street where someone begs a lady for love while the lady only acquiesces based on what she can gain.
Confirmation of this comes from page 16 where Miss Su says that Fang would make a good companion. On the other hand, Fang realizes that women do not consider marriage something to take seriously after escorting Miss Su around Hong Kong for a couple of days. He realizes that the lady was merely stringing him along. (“A girlfriend and a friend are two different things”). Miss Tang also demonstrates a cold hearted approach to men, regarding them as mere playthings to serve a temporary purpose. On page 132, one reads, “Hung suddenly hated Miss Tang so much, his heart stung as though pressed against a thorn” Like Miss Su , the woman uses men for short term personal gain, but has no intention to establish meaningful relationships. From the account, one reads that Mrs Sun possesses issues of her own regarding marriage vows. The account talks about the lady lighting a cigarette in a suggestive manner, despite having a husband and small child. One can say that even married women like Mrs Sun view marriage as a tedious chore. This is despite the fact that there exist men like Fang who view marriage as a sacred duty and a lifelong commitment. In this narrative, the cautionary tale concerns a man earnest in a desire for meaningful romantic relationships, but lacking street smarts.
The reading, “at first, they called her “truth” because the truth is naked. But then, she is not utterly naked. So they amended it to partial-truth”, alerts the reader to an overwhelming dishonesty theme (Yan, 2007). In “Fortress besieged”, the main character a clumsy everyday man named Fang Hongjian, goes abroad in search of higher education. Unfortunately, he ends up with a fake degree, which he uses in securing a teaching job. This is due to the fact that the allocated time does not permit him to conclude the entire course. The book’s main part occurs in 1937 when Fang along with other students decide to return to China in order to leave normal lives. On his way home aboard the ship, the hapless former student meets two women who have different personalities and physical attributes.
One of them goes by the name Miss Su, who is in her 20’s. From the book’s description, she appears as thin, aloof and arrogant. She has a demeaning attitude towards men and is also quite choosy with respect to relationships. The other woman’s voluptuous figure and tanned skin excites Fang, and he pursues her throughout the ship journey. Eventually, Fang succeeds with the aloof Miss Su after the ship makes a stop at the Shanghai harbor. On arriving at his ancestral home, he desperately tries to find a partner and even attends match making sessions arranged by his parents. Since the sessions do not work well, Fang attempts to contact the woman he actually loves, Miss Su. He visits her and finds her in the company of a potential suitor Zhao Xinmei and her cousin Miss Tang. A disillusioned Fang realizes that Miss Su is not the woman for him, and therefore diverts his energy into getting a job and supporting his daily needs. Eventually, he gets lucky and marries Sun Jou-Chia although problems constantly prop up in the marriage because of interfering in-laws and manipulative family members.
Fang’s attempts at building a meaningful relationship with his wife fail from time to time when some family members intervene negatively. Eventually, the marriage fails and his wife leaves him with a clock’s sound chiming as company. The main character in this book married his wife due to the fact she had values similar to his, although educated. His other attempts at relationships such as with Miss Su failed not because of the limited time period, but because the women were too worldly for him. The Love and Marriage theme in the book leans towards cynicism, naivety, lack of seriousness and exploitation. Fang from the descriptions in the book appears a naïve fellow who believes that character and education form the most significant qualities women seek in men. The women he meets though want financial security and stability, and already have male targets in mind.
The other woman Miss Su although “cooperative” in the end also has someone special set aside as a potential mate. This novel reveals the noble ideals of marriage and love as the fool’s domain only. Men with no money or social status like Fang have no chance with any woman, and thus must scale back their preferences in favor of more homely country girls. As the account suggests, educated girls with college degrees only want men with higher education levels and money than they do. They have no time for good men, even those with principles because money provides everything. The novel also informs the reader that even marriages to simple and uncomplicated village girls possess dangers in that they are easily swayed by opinions from family members.
One can say that from the story, it is only fools who fall in love. Fang can not have a woman to call his own because he is serious and desperate to be in a relationship. The women in the tale have modern ways thanks to either western educations, good jobs in the city, China’s changing face (modernization) or money from generous lovers. They lack the desire for long lasting relationships, except with those who can guarantee a secure financial future. The main theme in this story therefore is that marriage and love are false illusions, where people come together for their own selfish gain.
The lead character Fang shows sincerity in his romantic endeavors, but cannot provide much beyond values. Even the single peasant girls eventually change and start behaving like their city educated counterparts. The story cautions unwary people about the dangers of pursuing romantic love with deep emotional connections as opposed to casual encounters. Love and marriage possess permanency but in the modern world lack any meaning. Casual encounters are the thing smart people look for because they possess no emotional attachments. The gullible fall in love and risk suffering heartbreak, in contrast with the book, “The Republic of Wine” where the writer seems to advocate promiscuity.
Finally cannot control him and reaches over and cups her breast, an act that causes her to grab him and force her lips onto his mouth. The woman’s lust is so great that the detective gets disgusted and pushes her away. She repeatedly tries to force herself on him and Ding Gouer resorts to pinning her hands by her side. Even when he manages to disentangle himself from her by force, the woman does not seem offended. The detective gives his business card after exchanging some ambiguous sexual remarks leaves saying, “Mums the word”. At a later stage, though the two get together again. From the initial stages, one can tell that marriage and love play no part in this book.
Nobody seeks meaningful attachments to anybody else because the only significant thing to them is satisfying lust. The town’s citizens have no use for long-term commitments such as love or marriage because they are too busy getting drunk. From this, one can already see a principle difference between the two novels. The republic of wine has an entirely different view of love and marriage to the novel, “Fortress Besieged”. The main character comes across as an alcoholic detective with promiscuous tendencies. The story revolves around a detective who visits a rural part of China to uncover the truth about cannibalism.
Unlike “Fortress Besieged”, there is no attempt by the characters to exhibit anything that remotely resembles love or marriage. Debauchery reigns supreme and the main character uses sex and alcohol to erase the horrible images of cannibalism that he encounters. Ding Gouer, the detective has no time for long-term relationships although like the character in “Fortress Besieged”, he pursues women without discretion. The difference between him and Fang is that the latter wants a relationship with love that may ultimately lead to marriage while the others only have their minds on sex. It means everything to the detective and love/marriage appear nowhere in his thinking. Even rare food on a plate (donkey meat instead of human meat) attracts his interest only because it includes the genitalia.
The detective wants no love or long-term relationships and the women he consorts with lack morals in every aspect. For example, the lady truck driver who drives him around town is wild, and he soon gets entangled in a perverted violent sexual relationship with her. This woman has a husband, the Vice Minister of Propaganda in a town named “Liqourland”. However, this does not prevent her from engaging in perverse acts with a strange man. The novel’s whole theme seems to revolve around sexual inappropriateness rather than noble things such as love and marriage. A young writer Li Yidou for instance is sexually attracted to his elderly mother in law while the detective finds the breasts of suckling mothers attractive. One can say the detective tries to use sex as a defense mechanism for the weird things he encounters during his investigation. For this reason, he has no time for love and marriage. These two items therefore do not exist in the bizarre world of Liqorland. Ding Bouer unlike Fang in the other novel obviously has contempt for women because he describes the image of his lover’s face as sticking in his mind like dried beer hops. In the weird town, the men care little for the institution of marriage and seem interested in drinking alcohol on numerous occasions. From the tale of, ‘’eating small boys’’, one can say that this book leans towards eroticism rather than the moral values of love and marriage. These two aspects do not exist because the physical aspect of sex rather than the emotional appeal of a marriage based on love. One key difference about these two books is the prominence sexual or would be sexual encounters take.
In the ‘’Fortress besieged” although Fang is attracted to two women, one of whom is described as voluptuous, his focus is not so much on sleeping with them. His intention is to form a long-term relationship. To do this, the character shows sincerity in his efforts, although he is insincere about his academic qualifications. Fang talks about wanting a single rural girl with whom he can share a meaningful relationship. Ding Bouer in the novel, “The Republic of Wine’’ makes no attempt to pursue love or marriage. While cynicism is a part of both men, Fang becomes cynical after experiencing heartbreak, while Ding Boeur from the beginning shows cynicism and contempt for women. Fang eventually becomes contemptuous of marriage because of his experiences with women while Ding Bouer merely lacks respect for women. Women in the “Fortress besieged” are part of a sacred institution while those in “The Republic of Wine” serve as playthings.
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