In accordance with the Confucian moral order, the Tale of Kieu can be considered as immoral because of actions the main heroin takes. Immorality of the order is often perceived through Kim’s decision to sacrifice her life for the sake of her impoverished farther and force into prostitution. In contrast to Kieu, Kim Trong, the heroine’s first love, is depicted in a full apposition to Kieu.
He is a noble, smart, and faithful, trying to adhere to the Confucian moral order in the male-prevailing world. However, despite his nobility and morally justified features, both Kieu and Kim neglect the Confucian old traditions to follow their true feelings and preserve their love. So, romantic love between the heroes is considered to be inacceptable in Vietnamese society of that time because, according to the existing ethical and moral principles, passionate relations prevent a couple from executing their obligations.
However, the story still reveal morally justified and pure relationships between Kim Trong and Kieu that are specifically emphasized in the end of the poem when the beloved become only friends. Arising from this, the author creates Kim Trong for creating a comparative overview of Kieu’s adventures, distinguishing the role of man and women in forming the traditions of society, and estimating Kieu’s deeds.
At the beginning of the poem, one can see Kim Trong as an ideal of a man according to the norms and principles of the Vietnamese society:
Kim Trong, a scion of the noblest stock.
Born into wealth and talent, he’d received
His wit from heaven, a scholar’s trade from man.
Manner and mien set him above the crowd:
He studied books indoors, lived high abroad (Du 10).
Judging from the description, the author intends to emphasize that Trong’s personal qualities correspond to a moral person who adheres to the principles of Confucianism and who respects all traditions of Vietnamese society. However, like Kieu, he ignores his parents’ wishes for the sake of his love for the heroine. In this respect, man’s destiny, though being less subject to prejudice, is also hard and challenging because Kim Trong should also overcome the stereotypes existing in the society to reunite with his bellowed.
Therefore, the moral of the poem is sufficiently preserved because the author is more committed to the idea of presenting pure love that was destroyed by political power and greed (Colet 412). Kim Trong’s attitude to Kieu makes readers consider him emotionally and morally elevated because he is faithful to all wishes of her bellowed and he is ready to scarify the fixed ideals and principles.
Like Kieu, Kim’s behavior significantly deviates from the norms established in the Confucian society. Hence, despite the gossips and rules, he is ready to marry Kieu’s younger sister because the heroine has to get marry to another person who can guarantee her father’s freedom.
Despite those morally unjustified actions, as it can be seen at a glance, both Kim and Kieu are loyal to each other in their hearts: “ With the moon shining brightly from above/ In one voice we pronounce our eternal love/ Our innermost sentiments fine as silk threads/ Will unite use forever – this we pledge (120).
The purity and innocence of their love is approved at the end of the poem when Kim and Kieu marry again, but live not a wife and husband, but dearest friends. Their feelings remain platonic, which supports the idea of morality sustained in the poem (McLeod and Nguyen 72).
Finally, Kim Trong as one of the main male characters in the poem serves the amplifier of the moral concerning the social position of women in Vietnamese society. It is admitted that women are likely to blame for immoral acts or the ones contradicting the Chinese philosophy. In a male-dominating society, however, Kim Trong tried to undertake part of her sufferings and understand her life position that makes her resort to immoral actions.
In this respect, the author presents specific symbolic imaginary to show his commitment to Kieu: “Our betrothal moon appears with constancy/ As your face is etched deep within my heart” (Du 9). Despite Kieu’s passionate character and nature, Kim remains loyal to her beloved, which puts any displays of sexual desire aside. The hero reconciles her vivid and burning nature and is ready to reunite even in the capacity of a friend.
In conclusion, it can be stated that the poem deserves to be considered as morally justified because it discloses the veritable ethical and moral principles. In this respect, Kim Trong, one of the male characters and Kieu’s fiance, plays an important role in evaluating Kieu’s decisions and actions and amplifying the right moral order that the heroine adheres.
Specifically, she remains committed to her first love and reunites with Kim to lead a happy live. Kim understands the importance and inevitability of Kieu’s sacrifice and, therefore, he immediately agrees to marry her at the end of the poem. Although the plot of the story can be perceived as the criticism of Confucian traditions, it still embodies certain moral frameworks.
Colet, John. Vietnam Handbook. US: Footprint Travel Guides, 2002, Print.
Du, Nguyen. The Tale of Kieu: A bilinguial Edition of Nguyen Du’s Truen Kieu. Ed. Huynh Sanh Thong. US: Yale University Press, 1987. Print.
McLeod, Mark W. and Nguyen, Thi Die. Culture and Customs of Vietnam. US: Greenwood Publishing Group, 2001. Print.