International Journal of
English and Literature

  • Abbreviation: Int. J. English Lit.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 2141-2626
  • DOI: 10.5897/IJEL
  • Start Year: 2010
  • Published Articles: 278


Taoism as ethics, science as background: On the left hand of darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin

Qian Li
  • Qian Li
  • School of Foreign Languages and Cultures, Nanjing Normal University, Nanjing, Jiangsu, China.
  • Google Scholar

  •  Received: 22 September 2016
  •  Accepted: 27 October 2016
  •  Published: 30 November 2016


The Left Hand of Darkness by the modern American fiction writer Ursula K. Le Guin is acknowledged as a classical work of science fiction literature. Although, it belongs to the science fiction genre, the essence of the novel lies in that it tries to interpret and understand the world from the perspective of Chinese Taoist ethics, while such scientific elements as the far-future setting, interplanetary travel and light-speed spaceship, only provide the background for Le Guin’s thought experiment. The relationship between two sexes (androgyny), the relationship between man and nature (ecological consciousness) and the communication between different cultures are the focuses of this novel. From the perspectives of feminist theories and ecological criticism, this thesis tries to analyze its androgyny and ecological thoughts influenced by Taoism. From this analysis we can see that Le Guin has promoted the notion of harmony between Yin and Yang, that is, androgyny in the novel, to a higher level, and that the idea of “wei wu wei (not doing)” may point out an applicable way to alleviate the tense relation between man and nature.

Key words: The left hand of darkness, taoism, androgyny, ecological consciousness.