Interrelationships Between Vietnamese Culture and Literature

Essay by DawgieCollege, UndergraduateA+, April 2004

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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...