Some people are trapped in the prison of their own lives. The bars can consist of many things that hold these people from their full potential. Many of these restrictions come from social standards, stereotypes, prejudices, or poverty. It's hard to break away from these cycles, but it is possible. It takes enormous strength and courage which these characters did not have. Even though they did not succeed we can learn from their mistakes.
Songlian decided to marry into wealth in "Raise the Red Lantern." She felt that it was worth giving up personal freedoms to live an upper class lifestyle. Songlian was entrapped at her masters estate and was forced to follow family traditions that were handed down through centuries.
She is the fourth mistress to the master. The sisters, or fellow mistresses, constantly competed for his attention. He would only stay at one house a night and that wife's lanterns would be lit in honor.
The mistress that was privileged with the masters visit had more power with the estate staff and chose dinner for the entire family.
The need for attention led to violent behavior among the family. Before Songlian joined the family Zhuayun, the second mistress, and Meishan, the third mistress, were both pregnant at the same time. Both women were trying to have their baby first so they would have a higher status in the family. Zhuayun put poison in Meishan's food trying to cause her to have a miscarriage. At the same time she took medicine that would speed up her delivery. Meishan did not have a miscarriage, but gave the master a son and a future head of the family. While an ashamed Zhuayun gave birth to a girl that would have no future family status. Zhuayun also helped...