Chinese Cultural Revolution Essay

Total Length: 2339 words ( 8 double-spaced pages)

Total Sources: 3

Page 1 of 8

In the course of the Cultural Revolution, the communist leader Mao Zedong proclaimed particular cultural requirements for both art and writings in China. This was a period that was filled with violence and harsh realisms for the people within the society. Authors such as Bei Dao, Gu Cheng and Yu Hua can be considered to be misty poets, whose works endeavored to shift from an inactive response to active formation. The aforementioned individuals are renowned authors, writers and poets celebrated for their influential literal works and their impact during the course of the Cultural Revolution in China. Through their short stories and poems, these authors strove to create a cultural force with the purpose of educating the public and offering them revolutionary principles and ideals. The art and literature that was delineated by these authors played a significant role in the sociopolitical realm and the demise of the Cultural Revolution (Barnstone 21). This paper will discuss the comparisons and contrasts of three poems written by these three remarkable poets, in relation to the Cultural Revolution.

Bei Dao's "Resume"

Bei Dao is a celebrated and distinguished story writer whose writing is cultivated by mixed emotions of apprehensive expectation and subdued fury. Bei Dao served as a Red Guard at the start of the Cultural Revolution but went on to be one of the steering forces of the Democracy Movement. Resume with respect to the Chinese Cultural Revolution can be perceived as the start of and call for a rebellion. The beginning of the poem, "Once I goose-stepped across the square my head shaved bare the better to seek the sun but in that season of madness seeing the cold-faced goats on the other side of the fence I changed direction" indicates a change of heart and an appeal for a revolt and upheaval (Dao, 11).

The perspective of this aspect encompasses Bei Dao's intricate response to the pressures of a brutalized, conformist and corrupt society. Emanating from Peking, the focal point of government and therefore also the focal point of the nation's tiered knowledgeable and cultural elite, from childhood on, Bei Dao was acquainted with its scheming system of rewards and punishments. Similar to majority of his generation and social class within that epoch, Bei Dai seized the chance to create a new, fresher and more forceful elite as part of the Red Guard movement (Barnstone, 19). However, as indicated in the poem, he changed his direction. This is akin to the aspect of Bei Dao becoming disillusioned with the vehemence and factionalism within the movement and its exploitation as well as manipulation from higher authority. Therefore, Bei Dai decided to let go of direct political action and disclaimed his earlier commitment to authority (Dao, 12).

In the poem, Bei Dao goes on to state, "I bent my spine believing I had found the only way to express the truth." This is to show that he took a turn with regard to his beliefs and philosophies. He made the decision to disregard the ideologies and philosophies of the Red Guard movement, which he had once espoused, and found a way to unveil the severe and harsh aspects of violence, forcefulness and manipulation that encompassed the movement (Dao, 13). What is more, the poet asserts, "In a single night I gambled away my belt, and returned naked again to the world." This can be associated to Bei Dao's stance on Cultural Revolution and his way forward.
Still during a time when the vehemence of the Cultural Revolution had subsided, but its destructiveness to normal social life still went on, Bei Dao became an outside, rejecting prevailing forms of political and social authority and proclaiming his independence in an apolitical manner that was at the end of the day dissident and revolutionary (Dao 87).

Gu Cheng's "Curriculum Vitae"

Gu Cheng is one of the remarkable and renowned writers in China. Gu Cheng was part of the zhiqing, also referred to as the sent-down youth. These were young individuals that either freely or under intimidation left the urban expanses of China to go live and work in the rural areas (Sze). In the poem Curriculum Vitae, Gu Cheng starts out by stating, "I'm a sorrowful child, never gown up. From the grassy north shore, I followed a bright white road into a city full of gears, narrow alleys." To begin with, Gu Cheng attempts to delineate his feelings and sentiments towards the state of the nation from the time he was a child up until that present moment. He is in a state of sorrow and anguish due to the Cultural Revolution. Gu Cheng was amongst the youth that were moved to the rural regions in this period. He states that he followed a bright white road into a city with narrow alleys. This is to imply that the initially positive perspective he had, slowly turned negative and hopeless. Subsequent to attaining education, Gu Cheng was shipped to the rural areas to live where he actually started working in a pig sty (Lau and Goldblatt 590). He outlines his sorrow as the means of re-education given to him was not bright but rather saddening as he ended up working with pigs.

Yu Hua's "On the Road at Eighteen"

Yu Hua is one of the most renowned contemporary Chinese writer and novelist acknowledged and celebrated for his simple depiction of ordinary persons struggling in the midst of political and economic mayhem and for his modern style of writing. Yu Hua's "On the road at age eighteen" is a tale about a young man who heads off to perceive and experience the real world. Acting as the first narrator in the tale, the young man recounts the events of one late afternoon when he was walking along a mountain road, akin a boat floating on the sea. While on the road, he cannot locate a hotel, and when evening comes, he gets a ride on a truck. Nonetheless, the truck simply heads towards where he was coming from. In addition, the truck is filled with apples, and once it breaks down in the course of the way, the apples are stolen and the car demolished by a group of peasants and children. The young man re-tells that the truck driver smiles as the thieving is taking place and he himself ends up being badly beaten while attempting to stop the mob (Lau and Goldblatt 590).

It is imperative to note that some of the occurrences and circumstances within the story appear to be implausible yet casually tolerable. These events can largely be associated to the Cultural Revolution in China. This short story mirrors the personal….....

Show More ⇣

     Open the full completed essay and source list


     Order a one-of-a-kind custom essay on this topic


Barnstone, Tony. Out of the Howling Storm: The New Chinese Poetry: Poems by Bei Dao...[et Al.]. Wesleyan University Press, 1993.

Clark, Paul. The Chinese cultural revolution: a history. Cambridge University Press, 2008.

Dao, Bei. "The August Sleepwalker. Translated by Bonnie S. Mcdougall." (1988).

Lau, Joseph SM, and Howard Goldblatt. The Columbia anthology of modern Chinese literature. Columbia University Press, 2007.

Sze, Arthur, ed. Chinese Writers on Writing. London: Trinity University Press, 2010.

Liu, Yu. Maoist discourse and the mobilization of emotions in revolutionary China. Modern China, 36.3 (2010): 329-362.

Jing, Kaixuan. (2007). "Contemporary Chinese Fiction: Politics and Romance." Macalester International, 18.1 (2007):11.
Related Essays

Poems and Chinese Literature

Chinese Cultural Revolution in Literature There are a number of stark images found in the works of literature reviewed by Dao, Cheng, and Hua in this assignment. Specifically, this paper details the imagery evinced in Bei Dao's "Resume," Gu Cheng's "Curriculum Vitae," and Yu Hua's "On the Road at Eighteen." That imagery and those works in general are thinly veiled allusions to the Chinese Cultural Revolution, which took places in the early to midway part of the 20th century. It largely appears as though the imagery evinced in this work… Continue Reading...

sample essay writing service

Cite This Resource:

Latest APA Format (6th edition)

Copy Reference
"Chinese Cultural Revolution" (2016, November 27) Retrieved May 25, 2022, from

Latest MLA Format (8th edition)

Copy Reference
"Chinese Cultural Revolution" 27 November 2016. Web.25 May. 2022. <>

Latest Chicago Format (16th edition)

Copy Reference
"Chinese Cultural Revolution", 27 November 2016, Accessed.25 May. 2022,