Sung Yon Kim
Celebrated Cases of Judge Dee
In by reading the Celebrated Cases of Judge Dee, I gained a perspective of the people and culture of China. This book showed the analysis of Chinese saw and the background of Chinese history.
Judge Dee, during the Tang Dynasty, was a well-known statesman and a magistrate to a town called Chang-Ping. He was known to be a famous detective, in which he could solve all crimes. In the Celebrated Cases of Judge Dee, he is faced with three murders, which develop throughout the book. First of the three murders was the murder of the two silk merchants. Second was the sudden death of a young husband, and thirdly was the poisoning of a bride in her nuptial chamber.
As Judge Dee begins solving the crimes, the story unfolds slowly and shows the reader the history of China. In the Celebrated Cases of Judge Dee, Judge Dee lived in the Tang dynasty. During this period, one can see how the Chinese authoritative views were strict, the laws and punishment which were enforced, and what the outlook on the Chinese society was. Authority had a strong hold on their community and the people in the town also confined in them to help them and solve crimes. The community also knew what the consequences of causing a crime was and that indeed it was wrong to omit a crime. Judge Dee and with the help of his associates, begins solving the crime through much observation and Judge Dee was very clever. He used methods and tools such as, going undercover, using underground sources, interrogation, and forensic science to solve his problems. It isn’t much different today on how we solve crime in the western world.
We can see the Asian influence in solving crime matters when Judge Dee uses religion, ghosts, and dreams to solve his crimes. Bad luck and superstition such as were also believed. If the dead weren’t buried properly the Chinese felt that the dead wouldn’t let the family rest or sleep in peace. In the end of the book you could see that the use of torture and the methods of execution are more extreme than the western culture. Judge Dee went to an ancient graveyard to consults the spirit of the dead. This sort of use in the western civilization would be considered a hoax and very unreliable. Also executing them punished the offenders who committed the crime at the end. Although execution was harsh enough, Judge Dee exposed their offenders where all the towns’ people could see, and in a sense the community would be reminded not to offend any crimes. Also from the book you could see the sense or morality the Chinese had. They mourned the death of their ancestors and I think Judge Dee felt that he didn’t want any indignities left for those who were murdered.
The crimes which were committed were all solved but I feel that the consequences at the end were not fair or justice. You can compare the Chinese ethics such as humiliating the ones who offended the crime as where in American everyone has the right to appeal and is innocent till proven guilty. There was no extremity shown in how harsh the torturing could be. By torturing the guilty, I’m sure it’s an efficient way to make one confess but by torturing the innocent and demand confession, I feel that one would confess to a crime that they didn’t commit because of the pain and torture.
In reading the Celebrated Cases of Judge Dee, you can see the historical events that occurred in the book and you can compare and contrast the Chinese culture to the Western culture.