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At the beginning of the 20th century in China, copies of Ibsen's "A Doll House" began circulating secretly amongst women in tea-houses. In "China Doll," Marjorie Chan's first play, Ibsen is a catalyst for a young woman who comes to see her future in terms other than those laid out for her by the patriarchal society in which she lives. Su-Ling, an open-minded and intelligent young woman in Shanghai, has her feet bound by her grandmother, Poa-Poa. Despite the pain and the crippling effects, custom decrees that the smaller and daintier the foot, the more marriageable the woman. (The most desirable, "lotus feet'" fit into lotus shoes only 3-4 inches long.) Poa-Poa has high hopes that her granddaughter will marry well and bring prosperity to them both. Then Su-Ling meets the merchant Li, who enlarges her world by teaching her to read. As Su-Ling grows into womanhood, she makes choices that lead her toward independence, and which have consequences for everyone in her world.
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