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True to Her WordThe Faithful Maiden Cult in Late Imperial China$
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Weijing Lu

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780804758086

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: June 2013

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9780804758086.001.0001

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Dying for an Ideal

Dying for an Ideal

The Choice of Suicide

(p.129) Chapter 5 Dying for an Ideal
True to Her Word
Stanford University Press

This chapter examines the faithful maiden suicides as a way to assess their emotion, beliefs, and psychology, as well as the cultural and social environment and institutions which nurtured their sensibility, influencing them in ways that made the faithful maiden ideal appealing. Many faithful maidens did give thought to other options, and suicide came only after they saw overwhelming odds against the possibility of living on with the dignity to which they aspired. Benxun commanded higher admiration than other forms of suicide. Literary education formed a key venue through which girls were exposed to the gendered value of chastity and the faithful maiden ideal. It is noted that the learning of young women was not limited to a sort of rudimentary didactic education.

Keywords:   faithful maiden, suicides, emotion, beliefs, psychology, benxun, chastity, faithful maiden ideal

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