In the story, the protagonist, a young Chinese man named Juansheng, believes in women's equality. He advocates for women's independence and loves Henrik Ibsen's play A Doll's House because it depicts the self-liberation of Nora Helmer, a wife and mother who eventually realizes that she has been forced into...
In the story, the protagonist, a young Chinese man named Juansheng, believes in women's equality. He advocates for women's independence and loves Henrik Ibsen's play A Doll's House because it depicts the self-liberation of Nora Helmer, a wife and mother who eventually realizes that she has been forced into these roles and that she never actually decided anything on her own. As a result, she abandons her home and family and sets out alone to discover who she really is—the play ends with her leaving.
When his girlfriend, Zijun, tells Juansheng that she is her "own mistress" and that no one "has any right to interfere" with her, he is encouraged. He loves her fiery spirit, like Nora's, and her strength and independence. She is willing to move in with him while they are unmarried, flouting society's moral codes and, to some extent, accepting that they will incur society's wrath. He purports to be "unspeakably happy to know that Chinese women were not as hopeless as the pessimists made out, and that we should see them in the not too distant future in all their glory."
However, when Juansheng and Zijun move in together, they still settle into stereotypically gendered roles because Zijun has no power to support herself, or contribute to the household, financially. She can sell her jewelry, but she can't earn money. She can only cook, clean, and care for their domestic animals. Predictably, she isn't content with this life and grows physically weaker and emotionally colder toward Juansheng. He does not seem to realize why she is changing, and he spends more and more time away from home. Despite his happiness with her initial independence, he seems to expect her to adopt the role of housewife—even though they are unmarried—once they move in together.
In A Doll's House, the audience never finds out what Nora Helmer's life is like after she leaves her husband, Torvald. Since she has no money or financial support, though, we can infer that she has a difficult road ahead of her. We do hear what happens to Zijun after Juansheng confesses that he no longer loves her, though: she returns, disgraced, to her father's home, and then she dies within a few months' time. It's all well and good for a man to say that he supports the cause of women's independence, but he must do more than simply believe in it. Juansheng does nothing to help Zijun avoid a life of domestic drudgery—in fact, he expects her to adopt it. In this way, he essentially condemns her to death when he abandons her.