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A Study on a Female Protagonist’s Suicide Attempts in Ogwonjaehapgiyeon

  • Journal of Korean Literature
  • 2023, (48), pp.149-172
  • DOI : 10.52723/JKL.48.149
  • Publisher : The Society Of Korean Literature
  • Research Area : Humanities > Korean Language and Literature
  • Received : September 30, 2023
  • Accepted : November 10, 2023
  • Published : November 30, 2023

Haejin Cho 1

1덕성여자대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

This study investigates a female protagonist’s suicide attempts in Ogwonjaehapgiyeon, a work of fiction written in the late Joseon Dynasty. So far, one of the most interesting points in the work involves a female protagonist who tried to kill herself six times but survived. Nevertheless, her suicide attempts in fiction have not been structurally analyzed. I examined scenes and the corresponding meanings of the protagonist’s suicide attempts in Ogwonjaehapgiyeon. Hyeonyeong, the character who attempted suicide six times, was saved by other people such as a nanny, a character from Tang chuanqi named Liuyizhuan, a historical character, a widow, and father-in-law. She finally decided to live as they persuaded her to stop killing herself by suggesting other options. Many widows killed themselves when their husbands contracted fatal illnesses in 18-19th century Korea, a phenomenon that can be said to have resulted from oppression by the patriarchy. Ogwonjaehapgiyeon focused the debates on chastity between Hyeonyeong and the other people, making the narrative interesting. Also, the work asserted that people should not recommend that widows take their own lives.

Citation status

* References for papers published after 2022 are currently being built.

This paper was written with support from the National Research Foundation of Korea.