Wednesday, October 23, 2019

The Memoirs of Lady Hyegyong

The memoirs of Lady Hyegyong Lady Hyegyong * Wife of the crown prince Sado (1735-1762) * Daughter-in-law of King Yongjo (1724-1776) * Mother of King Chongjo (1776-1800) * The crown princess and mother and grandmother of the kings in the late eighteenth century Korea * Choson women (women in Choson Korea 1392-1910) – three lords: father, husband, and son * Patrilocal marriage * Woman writer The Memoirs * Hanjongnok: Record Written in Silence * A series of autobiographical narratives by Lady Hyegyong * 4 memoirs: 1795, 1801, 1802, 1805 The first 3 memoirs: story of her earlier life and her marriage into the royal family, and championing (in some cases â€Å"defending† her natal family. ) These memoirs are more personal, and overall three hangs a shadow: the fate of her husband, Crown Prince Sado, who was executed in 1762. His reputation after his death threatens the position of her offspring. **The fourth memoir: story of her husband Sado, the most important piece The mem oir of 1795 * Genre: Family injunction The first memoir was written for the benefit of her nephew, in conformity with the tradition of a family elder writing an injunction for the instruction of the younger members of the family, exhorting them to follow in the footsteps of honorable family elders. It contains a most poignant and endearing account of how the author, an innocent child of nine, was suddenly wrenched from her loving home and put in a strange and awesome court. It is also gives an intimate view of the princess's natal home, which was that of an exemplary Korean scholar. Defend the integrity of her natal family, reclaim the honorable family tradition * The unspoken subjects of the first memoir: â€Å"With his exceptional talent and superior scholarship, Prince Sado would surely have achieved greatness. Of its own record, however, illness seeped into his remarkable nature and†¦began to manifest itself in strange symptoms. † 1. Her husband’s insanity 2. Her husband’s execution in the rice chest â€Å"â€Å"On the thirteenth day, Heaven and Earth clashed and the sun and moon turned black.When this calamity happened, how could I desire to live even one second longer! † 3. The loss of her son * Silence The memoir of 1805: breaking the silence * Chronicle the death of her husband at the hands of her father-in-law * Audience: her grandson King Sunjo * Reason: false versions has proliferated. She felt the need to inform her grandson, the new king, the exact truth of the incident â€Å"feeling that my descriptions might cast a blemish on their virtue. But I cannot withhold the truth. † * Genre: writing a history * Seed of Trouble Absence of love and guidance from the father 1. Model child in infancy 2. Live in a separate palace from his parents * Influence of servants * Sado’s interest in the occult and martial games As a heir to the throne, Shado was put under immense pressure to achieve and learn conformity by the stifling educational rituals of the royal family – while, simultaneously, he was neglected by his coldly formal father, Yongjo, to such an extent that even an inside observer like Lady Hyegyong, steeped in the customs of the time, cannot hide her shock in the retelling.â€Å"Let the ruler be a ruler, the subject a subject, the father a father, the son a son. † * Father-son relationship is at the core of tragedy * â€Å"some unknown forces seem to have been driving father and son apart. †¦ What can I attribute this to but Heaven? Oh! Cruelty! † * The coldness between them is beyond her comprehension * Father’s faults? * Favoritism * Not paying attention to his son * Humiliating his son in public * Using Sado to wash away inauspicious events * Sado’s insanity * Clothing Phobia For him to get dressed, I had to have ten, twenty, or even thirty sets of clothes laid out. He would then burn some, supposedly on behalf of some ghost or other. Ev en after this, if he managed to get into a suit of clothes without incident, one had to count it as great luck. If, however, those serving him were to make the slightest error, he would not be able to put his clothes on, no matter how hard he tried. In the process, people were hurt, even killed. † —-Paralyzing terror of being able to live up to the expectations of propriety A serial killer â€Å"When anger grips me, I cannot contain myself. Only after I kill something–a person, perhaps an animal, even a chicken–can I calm down. † â€Å"Why is that so? † â€Å"Because I am deeply hurt. † â€Å"Why are you so hurt? † â€Å"I am sad that your Majesty does not love me and terrified when you criticize me. All this turns to anger. † —- Sado’s madness became such a threat to the royal family that he had to be eliminated * Mother’s choice * Lady Sonhui urged the King to eliminate Sado -â€Å"Sundering her ma ternal love and crushing her parental attachment for the sake of great principle, Lady Sonhui had brought herself to inform his Majesty . † – The duty over private emotion * Father’s side * Political concerns 1. His own problem with legitimacy 2. Factional conflicts 3. Constant threat of rebellion 4. High hopes for his heir * The execution * â€Å"In the royal audience chamber, meanwhile, father and son faced each other. In between them there stood a wooden rice chest (measuring 4ft x 4ft x 4ft, we are told). It was opened, and Yongjo ordered his son to climb inside.Undoubtedly aware of what this meant, Sado did as his father told him. It was then sealed up. Eight days later, he died, still inside it. † * Rationalizing the brutal execution —-Concerns over bodily dismemberment —-Not to give the appearance of criminal execution * Lady Hyegyong’s two traumas On her husband’s execution: * Inevitable and justified * Public duty > private feelings On the king’s decree of making her son an adopted son of the late prince: * Unnecessary and mind-baffling * Private feelings > public duty

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