Yes, that was me! I can definitely expand on my thoughts re: how Madam Yu’s behaviour reads differently to me due to my traditional, Chinese upbringing.
There is a lot of subjectivity as to whether Madam Yu can be read as abusive, and this reading is often influenced by culture—hence you often see completely off-base takes floating around. However, to me, the way that cultural context influences the reading will actually change depending on the relationship, so I will discuss each one separately. Most of the culturally insensitive takes are about her being an abusive or uncaring mother (she’s not), or that she’s a spurned woman (it’s more complicated than that), so you can skip down to the JC, JYL, and CSSR sections for that.
Madam Yu and Wei Wuxian
As a trend, I think western fandom tends to simplify Wei Wuxian’s dynamic with the Jiang family into an entire adopted family. Consequently, Yu Ziyuan gets perceived as this two-dimensional, evil stepmom figure—but I think this doesn’t capture the truth.
There’s a bit more variability among Chinese audiences when they read the Jiang family dynamic, partly due to our deeper familiarity with wuxia tropes, but mostly because there’s a mediocre Netflix translation colouring the western interpretation. Though many Chinese fans do view them all as a sort of family unit and read Madam Yu as a stepmother, I do not. To me, Jiang Fengmian and Jiang Yanli view Wei Wuxian as family—but Madam Yu does not. Madam Yu views him as a servant, a disciple of the sect, and an outsider at the dinner table—and it’s not wrong for her to do so. It’s not gracious, but it’s not unfounded. I don’t think Wei Ying ever gives any indication that he views her as a mother, either.
If you agree that they don’t have anything like a mother-son relationship, all these insults/complaints that Yu Ziyuan levels at him—that he’s the “son of a servant”, that Jiang Fengmian is weird for openly favouring Wei Wuxian over his own son, etc.—these start to make sense? Like, it’s shitty to listen to, but none of it is wrong. Suddenly it reads less like pointless insults and more like actual points.
Additionally, if we consider that Wei Wuxian is a disciple of the sect who goes around and raises the ire of the Wen clan, corporal punishment suddenly looks very normal (again, within the culture). Hence, when I watched the donghua and CQL, I hated seeing Wei Wuxian getting whipped, but I didn’t perceive this as abuse—especially because of the political nature of the decision.
But it is definitely still possible to mistreat a disciple.
In CQL, you see Madam Yu throwing an unnecessary amount of vitriol at Wei Ying. In the novel extras, it’s revealed that she regularly whipped him but never whipped the other disciples, indicating that it wasn’t normal corporal punishment. She also whipped him for absurdly stupid reasons. To me, this signals that she tended to abuse her authority over him. Even if you don’t view her as an abusive mother to Wei Ying, it’s fair to read her as an abusive authority figure.
Importantly however, “abuse” is a loaded word suggesting a violation of social norms, and again, the situation is complicated because the social norms of the setting don’t match those of the modern world. Madam Yu is not overstepping her bounds as master of Lotus Pier—hence, people do not think very much of this treatment in-universe, including Wei Ying himself.
Madam Yu, Jiang Cheng, and Jiang Yanli
Okay, when I first watched CQL, I cringed when Madam Yu started dragging her family because she sounded like My Actual Chinese Mother. I felt for a second like I had transmigrated into Jiang Cheng’s body and I was experiencing his agony firsthand!
Madam Yu reads very realistically, and I think this is why it gets personal for a lot of Chinese people when this fandom discusses her character. Yes, she belittles and hurts her children for their perceived failures, but many Chinese people can tell you that this is just a common parenting style. And while it might look like bullying to an outsider, this behaviour is usually motivated by love. It is often also motivated by fear that the child’s future will be substandard. This is textually obvious when you consider what exactly Madam Yu yells about:
JC Love Month 2020 Day 23
Day 23 of JC Love Month brings more of my Lan Qiren as the only good parental figure in Jiang Cheng’s life, but this time Wen Qing also steps up for Jiang Cheng. This might not be how you imagined this, but it’s what I did. ILY<3 This follows after Day 17 of JC Love Month.
When Jiang Cheng wakes up on Friday, he wonders if he can get away with simply not getting up. It’s not like his parents are going to notice—at least until Jiang Cheng doesn’t show up to the doctor’s appointment his mother made for him—but he fears that Lan Qiren might notice.
Jiang Cheng isn’t sure what exactly Lan Qiren will do if he doesn’t show up at school today, but Jiang Cheng finds that he’s unwilling to worry him more than he really has to and especially more than he already does.
So he gets up, his wrist painfully throbbing probably more due to his emotional state than any real pain, because his wrist hasn’t hurt like this in a while now, but Jiang Cheng shakes it off.
He already bought a splint to put onto his wrist as soon as the cast is off and his mother left again, because he knows it’s too early to get the cast off. He knows and the doctor will know and yet they both will do what his mother orders.
Jiang Cheng thinks he can count himself lucky that his parents aren’t home that much, so he will have lots of time to wear the splint without igniting his mother’s anger over it.
When Jiang Cheng is done brushing his teeth he takes a moment to just stare at himself in the mirror. He looks tired, but he always does, and he thinks it’s mighty unfair that otherwise he looks fine, when he doesn’t feel fine at all.
“You can do this,” Jiang Cheng tells himself and then he abruptly turns away from his reflection.
He is not sure he can.
Wei Wuxian hasn’t been home at all this week, and Jiang Cheng can’t even blame him for it, seeing as how his mother was home more often than not, mostly to remind him that he has the appointment today.
Jiang Cheng doesn’t even want to imagine what’s going to happen if he misses it.
He feels detached from himself as he goes through his day, but the clock keeps ticking down and the time of his appointment gets closer and closer.
He only has two more hours when he sits down for lunch at school, but he can only stare at it. Jiang Cheng doesn’t feel like eating at all, and he doesn’t feel like moving, and he checks for the fifteenth time if he packed his splint.
“Jiang Wanyin,” someone suddenly says from beside him and Jiang Cheng startles badly enough to nearly knock over his bottle but he manages to catch it at the last moment.
Don’t get me wrong, I liked Madam Yu as a character, but it’s spiritually healing to imagine Cangse Sanren slapping her into the oblivion for how she treated Wei Wuxian.
Watching a friend stress over eps 9-10 when Jiang Fengmian broke up WWX and JC’s silly sibling banter while WWX’s still recovering in bed. She thinks it’s an obvious favoritism and JFM’s scolding at JC in that moment was “really uncalled for” bc it’s normal for siblings to have petty fights. All these while thinking Madam Yu is still a bitch to WWX. She fumes even more at JFM though.
It’s the greatest feeling I had in a while bc I see my past self in my friend rn when I first watched the donghua. Explained that the family conflicts ain’t the only reason why WWX and JC’s solid brotherhood went to waste (my voice was hoarse at this point). It was the combination of personal, familial, and political reasons that kept piling up as the plot thickened further. Friend’s face went from listening earnestly to pikachu face :O LMAOOO
Ah yes, passing down your mdzs mental sufferings is one of the wisest decisions you could ever make lmao
Proud of myself for actually getting some stuff done this weekend
- Wrote 7k of my Xue Yang follow-up fic to Empathy. Should hopefully finish it in one more session.
- Outlined my Madam Yu & Wen Zhuliu backstory fic - 13 chapters! Plus like three pages of notes. And I wrote 1k of it. From Chapter 11, of course, but it’s something! Excited to write it.
Now I’m going to try to get some actual job work done because I’m way behind
It breaks my heart, how he never had a mother’s love,
As he always wished ……
“If one of my kids did that, he’d get a talking to… which in the Jiang family means locking him in the shed.”
Relationships: Lán Zhàn | Lán Wàngjī/Wèi Yīng | Wèi Wúxiàn, Wèi Yīng | Wèi Wúxiàn & Yú Zǐyuān, Jiāng Fēngmián & Yú Zǐyuān, Jiāng Yànlí & Wèi Yīng | Wèi Wúxiàn, Jiāng Chéng | Jiāng Wǎnyín & Wèi Yīng | Wèi Wúxiàn, Lán Zhàn | Lán Wàngjī & Wèi Yīng | Wèi Wúxiàn, Jiāng Fēngmián & Wèi Yīng | Wèi Wúxiàn, Lán Qǐrén & Wèi Yīng | Wèi Wúxiàn
Characters: Lán Zhàn | Lán Wàngjī, Lán Yuàn | Lán Sīzhuī, Wèi Yīng | Wèi Wúxiàn, Jiāng Chéng | Jiāng Wǎnyín, Yú Zǐyuān, Yínzhū, Jīnzhū, Lán Jǐngyí, Jiāng Fēngmián, Jiāng Yànlí, Lán Qǐrén, Lán Huàn | Lán Xīchén, Mèng Yáo | Jīn Guāngyáo
Additional Tags: Transmigration, Alternate Universe - Time Travel, Time Travel Fix-It, Illnesses, Family, Scars, Memory Loss, Angst, Crying, Music, Nosebleed, Fear, Recovery, Nightmares, Sharing a Bed, Flirting, Emotional Hurt/Comfort
Summary: The Lans accompany the family to Yunping for Wei Wuxian’s spiritual dizi. The trip has unexpected complications.
Notes: See end
Lan Qiren had at first been surprised to have respect for the son of someone as wild as Cangse Sanren, but it had grown over the weeks at Lotus Pier. The boy, despite his lack of memories, did his best in his studies—studies he wasn’t even required to take part in, having joined voluntarily if only because they took place in the infirmary due to Wangji’s reluctance to leave during the coma.
Continuing them there had been a matter of convenience, and despite the fact that they did not wake Wei Wuxian he still tried to pay attention when he did wake.
From a purely academic standpoint, it was interesting to see what he had retained despite the amnesia. Sometimes it was unclear what was a memory breaking through, but often the boy recognized when that occurred—or, on unfortunate occasions, he suffered a nosebleed.
Healer Lan was of the opinion that it was a combination of the swelling of his brain following the attack and perhaps the impact of the resentful energy they had been unable to remove.
“It’s possible the amnesia is the impact of the resentful energy, and when he remembers there is backlash.”
The issue was concerning, as too much backlash could potentially cause permanent damage. Jiang Fengmian had expressed concern regarding Wei Wuxian’s future if it persisted; were he to become ill on a night hunt, for instance.
Fortunately, at only ten, they would be supervised on night hunts, and his condition could be monitored. As he grew, perhaps the episodes would lessen. There was no way to tell.
Wei Wuxian had impressed his nephews barely days into his consciousness. At first Lan Qiren had been skeptical, but the boy’s questions during lessons had been thoughtful and evidenced a quick and curious mind. He had brought Wangji out of his shell more than anyone aside from Xichen. And hearing of Wei WuXian’s good reputation around Lotus Pier and his kindness toward orphans assured him of his character.
Lan Qiren had never even considered that a ten year old would teach cultivation to street children to help them survive, let alone that the Jiang clan’s response would be to take the children on as disciples.
Favourite Female Characters pt2
Even though I liked the actress, but madam Yu was beyond a b!tch. Yes, her husband was shitty, but she took all her anger and frustration on her kids and an orphan child, who lived for years on the streets. She was willing to cut his head hand (
really! A b!tch), but didn’t do it only to order him to protect her son.
The way I see it, he has nothing to do with Lotus Pier burning, he was willing to let her cut his hand to maintain peace, but her ego didn’t allow her to let the Wen clan establish a supervisory office, which I totally understand, but then she blames WWX for it.
Jiang Cheng saw the whole thing, and didn’t approve of it, he even tried defending WWX against his mother. I have no idea why he blamed him later.
Lyrics: Zombie - The Cranberries (the Bad Wolves version is also awesome. But nothing compares to the raw emotion in Dolores O’Riordan’s voice in the original. Both version gave me goosebumps the first time I heard them, and continue to give me goosebumps every time I hear them).
Madam Yu is an Amazing Character, Here’s Why
What’s up guys it’s been 57 years but I finally have another meta lmao. Shoutout to those who helped me decide on this one, and for those who wanted the Yi City analysis? Don’t worry that’s coming soon lol.
So Madam Yu is a really important character in MDZS, and here’s a whole meta post about why I think she’s (in my opinion) the best-written minor character in the entire story. Quick note though, this meta is going to focus on the animation specifically, because that’s my favourite version of Madam Yu (though design-wise, Audio Drama Madam Yu is best lmao). The novel and CQL versions will be mentioned, but I don’t quite remember all the novel details and I don’t really like CQL-Madam Yu, so yeah. ^^; Also, this is talking about her character writing, not her morality as a person if she were real. Feel free to disagree with the post, but here’s my take on her and why I love her despite not liking her as a person.
Anyways let’s goooooooo. Warning: This is pretty long cuz I have a lot of feelings about Madam Yu ZiYuan.
Can we have Lan Wangji become selectively mute after witnessing that? Some nice mental trauma for the little Lan that still makes speech difficult for him even in adulthood.
I can see Wei Wuxian being taken to the Cloud Recesses for healing. Jiang Fengmian agrees so he has some time to deal with Yu Zixuan without worrying that she’ll hurt Wei Wuxian again. Once the divorce has gone through and Yu Zixuan is banished to her families sect Jiang Fengmian goes to get Wei Wuxian and that’s when Lan Wangji says he wants Wei Wuxian to stay so he can keep him safe. I doubt it would work, but maybe?
Rewatch Realization #2,847: Madam Yu is checking to make sure Wen Zhuliu didn’t melt Jiang Cheng’s golden core, making what happens later 1,000x sadder