Every person passes through the inevitable processes of changing and aging. However, the human culture has created many symbolical images of supernatural beings that personify some unchangeable phenomena. Pai Hsien-Yung in The Eternal Snow Beauty creates the image of a woman who constantly finds herself in the center of the elite men’s attention. The story tells us about the famous Yin Hsueh-yen moves from China to Taiwan and loses all of her previous achievements, funds, and social status. At the same time, the only one treasure she preserves is her unusual personality that attracts others and allows her to have advantages in any society. Hence, Yin Hsueh-yen symbolizes the social elites that live through their past, thus remaining internally unchanged in the transformed reality.
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To start with, the name of the main character, Yin Hsueh-yen, means Snow Beauty, which has its specific interpretation through the prism of the motive of eternity and unapproachable essence. Accordingly, through both the title and the short story itself, the author shows that the beauty of Yin Hsueh-yen is eternal (Hsien-Yung 4). It is clear that snow is a changeable phenomenon because it usually appears and melts unpredictably and easily. Moreover, it rarely remains pure because of its whiteness that underlines all dirty elements on it. Nevertheless, the snow on the heads of the mountains always remains pure and beautiful because the weather does not change there and people do not disturb those places. Consequently, the title of the short story can be interpreted through the reference to the places that are on such a far distance from everyday reality that it does not change their purity.
Furthermore, Yin Hsueh-yen is as an unapproachable and changeless character as her name indicates. Such an interpretation is reasonable due to the social status of Yin Hsueh-yen who belongs to the top of the Chinese society (as well as the eternal snow is on the mountain peaks) and always remains the most attractive and interesting woman among her colleagues. The essence of it, as we find out from the text, is that Yin Hsueh-yen had her own rhythm, as the author claims (Hsien-Yung 4). The unchangeable nature of the main character concerns not only her orientation on her Chinese past after the fleeing to Taiwan but even her everyday life in China. No outside disturbance could affect her natural poise, underlines the author in order to illustrate the unchangeable specifics of Snow Beauty that always makes her different from others and in this way gives her some inexplicable advantage (Hsien-Yung 4). In this way, the name of the main character serves as a key to the short story’s interpretation.
It is worth mentioning that Yin Hsueh-yen is a fatal woman who remains on top while all her male followers eventually fail in one way or another. To be specific, the main character has as bad destiny as high attractiveness because all men who connect their lives with her lose their fortune. In this way, she is always followed by some curse that affects not her but others. Accordingly, this aspect of her eternity is specifically important and interesting because it looks like Yin Hsueh-yen is the social analogue of the highest peaks that demand risk and fearlessness in exchange for just oncoming. Certainly, the author underlines that it is Yin Hsueh-yens envy sisters in the profession who shared the rumors about her bad horoscope according to which whoever came near her would lose at least his fortune if not his life (Hsien-Yung 4). At the same time, further in the text, it becomes clear that the rumors are partly true because all people who approach the eternal Snow Beauty become bankrupts, prisoners, or, in general, lose their social and financial advantages that allowed them become closer to Yin Hsueh-yen. Overall, this fatal influence of the main character on others makes her a symbolical figure of a person who changes the world while remaining unchanged.
What is more, the eternal Snow Beauty is the symbol that appeals to the social inequality. The main character symbolizes something unchangeable that transforms all people around into lower forms of organization. It is clear that those unfortunate men described in the short story only belong to the closest round near Yin Hsueh-yen, but in general, the whole changeable world suffers from the fortunes uncertainty when the eternal Snow Beauty always remains the same and attracts new individuals whose destiny also would be to the same degree predictable. Hence, the story shows the constant division within the community that consists of stable whilst unreachable, and variable even though common social statuses.
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Yin Hsueh-yen not only personifies a fatal woman but, if looked at through the social prism, she can be interpreted a group which is so hierarchically distant from other people that it only provides influence, but is not afflicted in response. By the way, such a reading is close to the metaphor of the main character`s name analyzed before. The author shows through the short story that when some people may have the unpredictable fortune, there are some individuals, who are always beyond the fortunes transformations. It is clear that the prevalence of Yin Hsueh-yen has an irrational nature: she is genuinely bewitching though no one could say precisely where her charm lays (Hsien-Yung 4). Besides, the same irrational roots concern the prevalence of the social elites over the majority, which is not naturally lower than the more successful compatriots, but has another way of destinys realization. In this way, the author in some degree discusses the problem of social influence through the short story about one woman whose destiny is to remind others of her mysterious beauty.
Taking into consideration the other side, the unapproachable social elites are as prevalent as Yin Hsueh-yen within their circles. To be specific, their stability concerns the social sphere when her constant prevalence appears through her beauty. Most of the representatives of the elites of the early XX century were conservative and loyal to the traditional social orders. Such people lived in the past, as Yin Hsueh-yen herself continues her Chinese way of life even after the immigration to Taiwan. The main positive side of such a way is the closeness that does not allow the elites to lose their identity under the different influences and challenges that come from the outer society. At the same time, there is the negative side of conservatism because it does not allow the elites to exist in organic unity with the whole society accordingly to the actual problems and questions. Such ambivalent specifics of the traditional elites make them vulnerable within the world modernization.
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All things considered, the provided arguments demonstrate that the eternal Snow Beauty is the symbol of social elites that both remain unchanged and cannot be modern because of their conservatism. Yin Hsueh-yen is also both unchangeable because she is devoted to the past, and, at the same time, rigid as she does not accept the new social conditions in their fullness. Hence, the Chinese aristocracy of the first half of the XX century could not accept some aspects of the new way of life and resolve the topical challenges. That is why the Chinese conservative elites internally remained within their statuses, but lost their country as the author of the short story metaphorically showed.