Oct 25, 2013

Li Wan is one of the Twelve Beauties of Jinling (refers to the twelve excellent ladies) in the book of The Dream of Red Mansions. From the beginning to the end, she always acted as the representative of the traditional Chinese female in ancient times.


Li Wan is the wife of Jia Zhu (Jia Baoyu’s brother). As her husband dies soon after they got married, she becomes widowed at an early age. She has a son called Jia Lan. After Jia Zhu’s death, she lives a simple and monotonous life as a typical virtuous widow and a model mother. All she wants is to bring up her son.


In this book, her leisure activity is to participate in the poetry club with her cousins. She really enjoys herself in the poetry club and believes it is a significant part of her life. However, the club doesn’t change her life as distress has already occupied her heart since the day her husband passed away.

The writer describes Li Wan, the perfect Confucian ideal widow, as a mild-mannered woman with no wants or desires. She eventually gets high social status due to the success of her son in the Imperial Exams. However, she is a person of spiritual death, especially when compared with the lively girls around her. Her name also suggests her tragic fate.

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