Who are the characters in Regret for the Past by Lu Xun?

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Juansheng

The story's protagonist and narrator, Juansheng, is a young Chinese man. He lives in a room at a hostel, the only place he can afford and is accepted, and he tells the story of the past year of his life.

At the beginning of that year, he lived in...

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Juansheng

The story's protagonist and narrator, Juansheng, is a young Chinese man. He lives in a room at a hostel, the only place he can afford and is accepted, and he tells the story of the past year of his life.

At the beginning of that year, he lived in this same room, but when he asked his girlfriend to move in with him (an extremely taboo decision, in their society), they had to get another place. They were young and in love. Juansheng describes his girlfriend being charmed and impressed by his declarations of equal rights for women. He used to champion Nora Helmer, the protagonist of Henrik Ibsen's play A Doll's House, because she learns to recognize her oppression and actually leaves her home and family in the end to discover who she really is when not enacting her socially prescribed roles as wife and mother.

Juansheng, however, does not realize how his own behavior and attitudes actually contribute to the problem of women's dependence on men and reduce his partner to a shell of her former self.

Zijun

Zijun is Juansheng's partner. Initially, Zijun considers herself to be her "own mistress," and she avows that no man or society has "any right to interfere" with her and her life choices. She agrees to live with Juansheng, unmarried, because she is young, in love, and idealistic. She is unprepared for the way she will feel when she is unable to contribute to their life together in any sphere other than the domestic.

She is denied the opportunity to contribute financially to the household and is reduced to cooking, cleaning, and caring for their domestic animals while Juansheng goes to work and engages in intellectual labors to earn money. She grows unhappy, and this weakens her spirit and body. When Juansheng eventually tells her that he no longer loves her, she is taken away from their household by her father, and she dies mysteriously within a few months. One potential interpretation of her death is that all she had left was Juansheng's love—when he took that away, she had nothing left to live on.

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