Dream of the Red Chamber

Xiaoying Mei, Reporter

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Dream of the Red Chamber, written by Cao Xueqin, is considered the masterpiece of Chinese fiction. Written during the Qing Dynasty, the book reflects the rise and decline of a prestigious noble and wealthy family, Jia (it is a homophone with the character jia, meaning false or fictitious). The red chamber symbolizes the places of the wealthy women or family.

“The novel is remarkable not only for its huge cast of characters and psychological scope, but also for its precise and detailed observation of the life and social structures typical of 18th century Chinese society,” according to Wikipedia. As a young person who read the novel, it is truly challenging when the words were too complicated to understand; when the story was too long to be patient reading. However, every masterpiece in literature has its own charming and fantastic parts. It is worth the time readers spend on reading and understanding the book. I have to admit, Dream of the Red Chamber, is incredibly amazing when you learn the sadness and intelligence of the story under the cover.

Admittedly, the detailed structure and background of the society is hardly explained and analyzed within several words. Nevertheless, the romance between Lin Daiyu and Jia Baoyu, is like an eastern version of Romeo and Juliet.  Lin Daiyu was an accomplished poet and musician, however, he was considered unfit for Jia Baoyu, the most cherished person in the family was supposed to be the match for Xue Baochai.  She had a similar background the social status. The relationship between them was against the conventional view of marriage.

Lin and Jia have a desire for freedom and equality.  However, it was their insistence and commitment to each other that touched the heart string of millions of readers. At last, we hope for the happy ending, only to find that romance between them converses with the name of the novel, never to be true, just a dream.

Dream of Red Chamber is definitely a masterpiece. Millions of readers have enjoyed and discovered it charm, even though more sadness and helplessness would come with a deeper reading.  Is it not the meaning of reading- a journey of love, understanding, sadness, and inspiration?

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