The Embodiment of Public and Private in Er Pai in late Ming Dynasty
The novels of the late Ming Dynasty, Slapping Table in Amazement-First Series and Slapping Table in Amazement-Second Series (referred to as Er Pai) are novels that describe the development of the common people in the late Ming Dynasty in terms of interaction and contact in thought, life, and social activities. From the novels that can deeply explore the issues of people’s livelihood in the late Ming Dynasty, to understand that many stories show the unique culture of scholars and merchants through the negotiation and integration of the two classes of scholars and merchants. The contact and interaction between scholars and merchants in Er Pai enriches the description of each character’s choice of public and private in the stories. It also reflects the relationship between public and private in the late Ming Dynasty. It depicts the circuitous plots of merchants oppressing poor Confucian scholars, merchants doing good deeds and helping others, officials asking for orders for the people, and officials and merchants colluding for profit. It was highlighting the intricate entanglements between public and private in the late Ming Dynasty. Er Pai clearly outlines the influences on the characters of all classes living in a utilitarian society in the late Ming Dynasty. “Public” is synonymous that representing social interests with the pursuit of justice and the protection of public rights and interests. It is not entirely hostile to “private”. Under the category of “public”, making a living in a reasonable and legal way of profit-seeking is a positive “private” and can be accepted by the public. On the contrary, it is a negative “private” to seek profit by means of disregarding reason and law, and it is an act that is discarded by the world. From the novels can learn about the grasp of public and private by the scholars-merchants class when faced with life choices, and the reasons for the blurring of the boundaries between public and private. This thesis takes Er Pai as the research text, aiming at the embodiment of public and private in the novels. In order to explore the consideration and choice of public and private by the scholars and merchants when facing the public rights and personal interests, and the relationship between public and private in the late Ming Dynasty.