chapter  14
Filial daughters-in-law: questioning Confucian filiality
BySOR-HOON TAN
Pages 15

The passages about the sage-king Shun’s filiality in the Mencius sometimes remind me of the melodramatic stereotype of the filial daughter-in-law in the Hong Kong soap operas of the 1960s and 1970s.1 The heroine was usually beautiful and always virtuous. Her lot in life was a series of misfortunes and injustices, which she faced with tear-wrenching courage. Throughout her trials and tribulations, she remained the ever-faithful wife to her husband, loving mother to her children, caring sister-in-law to her husband’s siblings, and filial to her parents-in-law. Her filiality never wavered even when, as often happened, she was confronted with a shrewish, abusive, or downright vicious mother-in-law.