"Raise the Red Lantern" is not an exception to this. The film reveals of China's culture on marital arrangement way back 1920s. This Asian country has made a unique identity in connection with their outstanding obedience to customs and regulations. Strict conformance to traditions is really important in China that time as what the film illustrates. With the culture they have, their women be likely to be submissive in the society more than any other women in the world. It is in their belief the acceptance of polygamous marriage arrangement. This kind of culture allows men to marry as many wives as they want as long as that the man can provide all the needs of his big family. The story revolves around this type of marital arrangement. An old wealthy man, although already having three wives, then chose a fourth wife, in whom the story mostly rotates. The fourth chosen wife is Songlian, a 19-year-old beautiful college student. Still young, she has many dreams yet to be fulfilled but all those were gone when she had decided to marry the wealthy landlord after being forced to by her stepmother. This formerly independent woman enters this great mansion of a rich man that forbade her of any independent acts anymore. She has to stay in her own quarter, have been provided a servant and many rituals to follow or perform every day. Worst of all, she is forced into rivalry with the other wives. Aside from that, she got a very treacherous servant who wished to marry the rich man and this later on gave a sturdy headache to her.
As the film lay bare, all the four wives must fight for the crown. They are to struggle to win the "masters'" attention. "Master" pertains to their husbands. It is customary to these Chinese women to call their husbands "master". They do this struggle to give their master the pleasant evening he wants for the day. It is this masters' custom to choose a wife for a night where he would gain his sexual satisfaction. And it is the women's duty to do their very best in order for them to be the chosen one every night. In doing so, they will gain the masters favor and have the incentive to rule the rest the household the rest of the day. The master has to show off his decision by lighting a red lantern going to the door of the lucky wife for the night. It must have been a lonely environment for these women, trapped inside their master's cage waiting to be picked up for a night. It looks like their nothing but similar to a whore. They obey everything their master wants for them. It is no longer her who has control over her self. Yet, as what the film reveals, it is a woman's glory to be the lady of the night. It means a step higher than the rest of the wives. It is exultation on their part to please the master and always gain his favor.
"Raise the Red Lantern" seems to blurt out the role of women in the society as submissive to man's desire. Women are nothing but for quarters. They do not have a place in the workplace. She's a do-no-better ignorant than staying at home and pleasing his husband the master. All she has to do is to execute her expertise in whatever field her master commands to gain herself honor as a pleasant wife. And mind you, she must do it with all of her best. Asian women are presented in the film