No Darkness Without Light

Comedy is important as an art form because it serves to counter tragedy by showing the rise of a normal person, even if their new position doesn’t seem better at first glance. One work that embodies this idea is Raise the Red Lantern. In the movie Raise the Red Lantern, the viewer follows Songlian as she marries into a wealthy family, and eventually falls out of favor. As the story progresses, Songlian begins to exercise more agency, culminating in her being labeled as “mad” before being made into a servant.

In reality, Songlian’s downfall is actually her triumph, as being made into a servant actually gave her more agency than she had as the Fourth Mistress. This was previously seen in the story with Songlian’s servant, Yan’er, who exercised agency by violating traditions at will. The way that she rises above her previous position is by rejecting the power structures she was trapped in by exercising agency.

Raise the Red Lantern is not a comedy because it is about a person being more fulfilled in a materialistic sense, it is a comedy because it is about a person breaking free from the systems of power that they are trapped in through their own actions.

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