This article analyzes how the “new woman plays” written by the modern dramatist Ouyang Yuqian (1889-1962) in the 1920s weave together the old trope of the shrew with his constructions of the Chinese Nora promoted by May Fourth ideology. Of particular interest is how Ouyang reworked the traditional Pan Jinlian story in his eponymous play to rehabilitate the most notorious shrew from late imperial literature into a modern Nora. The article goes on to examine the performances of Nora by Lan Ping, later known as Jiang Qing (1914-91), in the 1930s. It analyzes the public reception of Lan Ping’s deployment of old and new female types when she played a forceful Nora on and off the stage. This study claims that cultural interest in the traditional shrew did not die with the collapse of imperial China. Rather, modern cultural figures redeemed formerly denounced shrew attributes and revived the shrew as a positive model for female empowerment in their constructions of the “new woman.”
Ye Yonglie Jiang Qing zhuan96–99; Natascha Vittinghoff “Jiang Qing and Nora: Drama and Politics in the Republican Period” in Leutner et al. eds. Women in China 208–41 see page 225. According to Ross Terrill Tang Na did not get the letter from Zheng Junli until he and Lan Ping came back from Ji’nan. See Terrill Madame Mao 83.
Vittinghoff“Jiang Qing and Nora”225. Vittinghoff’s account on this matter is based on Ye Yonglie’s Jiang Qing zhuan 91. In Madame Mao however Ross Terrill states that Tang Na took “an overdose of sleeping pills.” See Terrill Madame Mao 82.
Lan Ping“Chiang Ch’ing’s ‘Farewell Letter’”77. Lan Ping also mentioned the discomfort of city life in her article “Cong Nala dao Da leiyu” 從《娜拉》到《大雷雨》 originally published in Xin xueshi 新學識 1.5 (1937) and see “Chinese Cultural Revolution Research Net” (Zhongguo wenge yanjiu wang 中國文革研究網) 14 May 2007 accessed on 25 September 2016.