In the Name of the Father: A New Study on Jia Zheng in The Dream of the Red Chamber
Keywords:紅樓夢, 父親, 賈政, 杜甫, 賈寶玉, The Dream of the Red Chamber, the Father, Jia Zheng, Du Fu, Jia Bao-yu
LANGUAGE NOTE | Document text in Chinese; abstract also in English.
The Dream of the Red Chamber narrates a story of a century-old aristocratic family (世家), which would finally face its decline. One main concern of an aristocratic family is to assure the endurance of its family career (家業). For this concern it is very important to educate the children, especially the family heirs, to keep the family reputation (門風). The Jia mansions education covers the recognition, cultivation and shaping of youngers’ talents and personality traits. Its long-lasting achievements constitute the generational axis of the Rong-guo Mansion (榮國府). Among these generation heirs, the Jia Zheng case well represents a complete and almost ideal “growth model” of an aristocratic male- child. The article incorporates the notion of “Father” and the enlightenment issue of “male growth” and focuses on Jia Zheng, the third-generation heir of the Jia mansions. I adopt a perspective of returning to the traditional elegant cultural context and re-discuss the three-dimensional aspect and depth of this character on the basis of the overall text content. Regarding the design of his name (政, “Politics”), his courtesy name 字 (存周, Cuenzhou, keeping Zhou), his official career title (工部員外郎, which has almost become Du Fu’s surrogate name), I explain the cultural references contained in this specific vocabulary, which mutually connoting each other to strengthen an ideal example of orthodox elites, namely, a combined image of Zhou Gong (周公), Du Fu and Jiafa the first-generation ancestor of the Jia Family. Further, the name 政 is combined from 正 and 攵; the former connotes a meaning of rectitude and ruler, the latter symbolizes the father. Thus, in the mythological and allegorical image, from the stone-in-smelting to the stone-patching-the-broken-sky, Jia Zheng leads and exhibits a role for Jia Bao-yu’s forerunner, on-the-way company, and a would-be future. The analysis on Jia Zheng helps to establish a firmer reference frame for comments on characters of The Dream of the Red Chamber. It also helps to provide a correct positioning for the creation purpose and cultural significance of the novel.
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