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The Inner Quarters by Empress Xu


Ancient China has various writings from women that shows the daily life of women and the expectations of the society. Among these writings is Instructions for the Inner Quarters, by Empress Xu (1407). She wrote based on the teachings of her mother-in-law Empress Ma. The importance of her work is that it presents the voices of women in two different generations, and she hopes to have an impact to women that come after her. She acknowledge that her society does traditionally not look at the education of women, but recognizes the importance of having an instruction that is specific to the girls and women. The purpose of the analysis of the Instructions for the Inner Quarters is to explore the rules and expectations given to women in ancient China, and whether they had any political rights as well as the role played by the men such as husbands and fathers.

The reason for the choice is my heritage. My grandfather is Chinese and thus I would like to learn more about his country and the Chinese culture. Exploring the Instructions for the Inner Court provides an opportunity to look at the Chinese culture and understand how it differs from the American culture.

The intended audience for the writing are women based on the primary target, which is to help women cultivate certain virtues. The modern day reader will obtain the same elements, in terms of gaining an understanding of what entails a moral woman within the ancient Chinese woman, expectations of the court in female conduct, and ways in which a woman could cultivate a strong character. The instructions are a blend of female character coupled with male and social expectations.  The reader also gains insight into standards of an ideal woman in the imperial court and specifically in the Ming Dynasty as expressed through the perception of Empress Xu.

Brief Overview

Empress Xu begins by noting that…………………


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