In analyzing the role of Songlian, the film uses her character to depict the role of women in the traditional Chinese tradition. Songlian is placed in a homestead which houses mistresses (Yimou, 1991). The house is owned by Master Chen who has four mistresses. Songlian is the fourth mistress. Her arrival in the house was well prepared for as she was pampered. However, this was not the case of all mistresses in the house. Each mistress was pampered upon request by the master (Yimou, 1991). For this reason, there was competition on the mistress who could capture attention of the master.
As a woman, Songlian was subjected to discrimination. Firstly, her marriage to Master Chen was the only way that she could be accepted in the society. A married woman could be more respected than a woman who could not. This argument could be justified by the fact that Songlian and other mistresses were content with their position. However, this exposed them to dangers and risky moments. For instance, Songlian is punished for lying about her pregnancy. At the end of the film, she is almost going mad due to her tribulations under Master Chen (Yimou, 1991). One may point out that marriage in form of ownership was responsible for the poor life led by Songlian.
Songlian was also from a poor background which made her more vulnerable. From her family’s perspective, her marriage to Master Chen was the only hope for the family. In addition, her family could not be able to protect her vulnerability in the hand of Master Chen due to their class differences. For this reason, Songlian was required to sublimit and be respectful to her husband regardless of her living conditions. Her dowry payment gave her husband the right to control her life completely.
From the film, it is an obvious assumption that the Songlian’s gender and social class made her very vulnerable. In addition, the traditional Chinese culture did not provide much hope for women.