||Lillian Ng’s novel, Silver Sister (1994), and Ann Hui’s film, A Simple Life (2012), both centers on the life story of Chinese female domestic servant, and the two texts have similar narrative pattern in terms of the subjects and the relationships between the maids and their employers. This thesis aim at explicate how the two resembling stories can generate contrasting political and ideological effects by examining the correlation between these two fictional representations and social- historical representations of Chinese female domestic servitude and subjects like zishu nu, mooi jai and amah. In so doing, we can see that Silver Sister’s unitary narrative logic emphasizing individual success, female autonomy and the modern present, while A Simple Life’s ambiguous narrative suggests the importance of human companionship, selfless dedication and the historical past. By applying the social-historical narratives of zishu nu and amah, we can understand how and why the novel builds up the image of its female protagonist, Silver Sister, from a distressful war refugee into a respectable and independent working woman as well as a modern citizen. This kind of narrative strategy is applied in relation to the construction of an imagined and idealized Australia modern nation-state, which served as a contrast toward the backward and patriarchal Chinese world depicted in the novel. Nevertheless, if we approach A Simple Life with the knowledge of historical figures like mooi jai in mind, we can perceive the inconspicuous social criticism that the director makes through the use of mise en scene and narratives in regard to Tao Jie’s domestic servant identity, female domestic servitude and the exploitative nature of master-maid relationship. In addition, we can also detect the perplexity and complexity of Tao Jie’s psychological state as a modern amah who is haunted by the past stigma of mooi jai. The two fictional representations both have engrossing narratives (Silver Sister’s personal success; the transformed relationship between Tao Jie and her employer, Roger), and with the help of social-historical narratives of different domestic servant figures, the political implications and social criticism hidden within the compelling narratives are able to surface. However, on the other hand, through the juxtaposition of different kinds of narratives, the imagination of fiction is able to raise question and challenge the deficiency and certainty of social-history.|
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