Tyranny as a Stereotype: King Jie and King Zhou’s Influence on the Depiction of Tyranny

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Tyranny as a Stereotype: King Jie and King Zhou’s Influence on the Depiction of Tyranny

Type: Master thesis
Title: Tyranny as a Stereotype: King Jie and King Zhou’s Influence on the Depiction of Tyranny
Author: Gal, Francesco
Issue Date: 2015
Keywords: Tyranny
Chinese Historiography
Chinese Vernacular Literature
Stereotypes
Abstract: Very few historical figures exerted such long-lasting and significant influence on the idea of tyranny as Jie of Xia dynasty (2207-1766 BCE) and Zhou of Shang Dynasty (1766-1122) did. Since their earliest mentioning in Chinese texts, they are identified as wicked rulers who, because of their lavish lifestyle and their ill-advised political conduct, brought about the demise of their dynasties. In this work, I tried to analyse the idea of tyranny as crafted on these two rulers. To what extent the figures of Jie and Zhou influenced the depiction of later Emperors; in other words, can we speak of a stereotypical representation of tyranny modelled on the two pre-imperial kings? These were my thesis’ main research questions. To investigate possible answers, I addressed the stereotypical depiction of Chinese rulers by analysing, as study cases, the figures of Emperor Qianfei (449–466) of Liu Song dynasty (420–579) within official historiography, and Emperor Yang (569–618) of Sui dynasty (581–618) in fiction. It turned out that the two emperors' depictions had clear allusions to and parallels with the two pre-imperial kings. In the cases presented, the aim of the historian, or of the fiction writer, to portray a tyrannical ruler adheres, quite precisely, to the figures of the Xia and Shang wicked rulers.
Supervisor: Wu, Dr. YinghuiDe Weerdt, Prof. Dr. Hilde
Faculty: Faculty of Humanities
Department: Asian Studies (120 EC) (Master)
ECTS Credits: 15
Handle: http://hdl.handle.net/1887/35662
 

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