The Last Emperor, Or Puyi The Puppet? | Teen Ink

The Last Emperor, Or Puyi The Puppet?

March 2, 2014
By Jacecreativewriting BRONZE, Tenafly, New Jersey
Jacecreativewriting BRONZE, Tenafly, New Jersey
4 articles 1 photo 0 comments

If you are currently studying ancient China in history then chances are you have heard of Henry Puyi, AKA the last Emperor of China. This man lived one of the most unique lives of the 20th centuries. Through all the sadness and drama in Puyi’s life we see a recurring theme: Puyi being used. You don’t fully understand yet? Almost every significant person or group in Puyi’s life has used him in one way or another. Whether it be the eunuchs, the Japanese, Reginald Johnston, or even Communists who took over China, people have used this man for their benefit and personal gain.
The eunuchs used Pu Yi to profit financially. Puyi was the only reason that they were still in the Forbidden City. The eunuchs kept Puyi prisoner so they stayed employed in the Forbidden City, because without an emperor to serve, there is no point in them being there. They also stole money from him. The eunuchs used Puyi both as a personal piggy bank, and a forced employer. Even after Puyi catches onto the eunuchs scheme and banishes them, he is still the loser in this battle. They are not punished for there crimes.

The Japanese used Puyi as a puppet/political figurehead. When the Japanese took over Manchukuo, they needed a Chinese “ruler”. This way the Chinese population would not feel like they were being taken over. They did not want them feeling the Japanese presence. The only reason that Puyi agreed was because he wanted to be emperor again, but as he sees later on, he is an emperor with no power. If he refused to do something the Japanese said, like sign papers for them, the Japanese could just cut off money to the state of Manchukuo. Even though Puyi was the official emperor of Manchukuo, the Japanese were running the show.

Reginald Johnston befriends Puyi so that he could get to know him and use him as a topic of research for his book that he would write in the future. He would also have original research about the Last Emperor of China. Puyi, thinking that Johnston is sincerely his friend shares a lot of information with him, which Johnston used as research. When Johnston returns to England his book is published about his time in the Forbidden City and everything he knows about Puyi. Later on Johnston’s book was used against Puyi in prison.

The communists made Puyi admit to crimes that he did not commit and used him as a symbol of a person being “converted” to communism. While in the communist Chinese prison, Puyi first denies the crimes that he accused of, but in time, is forced to confess, if he ever wants to be set free. Even if he had no knowledge of the crimes he was forced to admit to them. In the end the communists do set Puyi free, but only because they are trying to show the world that even the emperor is in favor of communism now, even though he is not. Puyi loses yet again, but is finally a free man. Free from the eunuchs, free from the Japanese, free from being used.

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