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Abstract

Within traditional China, there are many stories of widows committing suicide at a young age, especially after the Song Dynasty (960-1279). This prompts the question: Why were so many young widows committing suicide? What could explain this apparently prolific phenomenon? Within the study of women and gender relationships, an understanding of women's social status and living conditions are of paramount importance. Ming Dynasty China (1368-1644) is no exception. The order of this exploration will proceed as follows: First, the reader will briefly be provided with historical context, a focal article illustrating the phenomenon of widows who choose to remain widows until death, and finally a set of potential explanations for why so many of these widows would choose to engage in an act as extreme as suicide.

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