The book by the title The Plum in the Golden Vase is also known as Jin Ping Mei (JPM). It was originally written in Chinese but it has been translated into a number of languages for the purpose of readers to enjoy the plot and interesting characters. The Plum in the Golden Vase is a translation from JPM, a Chinese literature by Roy (9). This book is one of the famous and important novels in the Chinese literature. In this paper, it discusses a prequel of characters to this novel on the Plum in the Golden Vase. It focuses on the lives of main character (s) given at the beginning of the narrative.
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In this volume, Roy (11) gives a comprehensive and an interpretation of translation of the celebrated Jin Ping Mei. The novel is based on the domestic life of His-men Ch’ing. Ch’ing was a corrupt man but a promising trader in the provincial town. He was known for maintaining six women reserved for him alone and other town women whom he could not marry but generally referred to as concubine. This work on Roy is famous basically because it gives it an important landmark in the development of an art of work. This narrative art developed in this plot is not distinctly from the Chinese perspective but it is also a world historical plot context (Roy 20).
Lin-xi (28) asserts that a number of characters feature in the Plum in the Golden Vase novel. The list below includes some of the characters listed by surname in an alphabetic order. Characters in the novel represented historical figures that were grouped into Sung dynasty and Ming dynasty. Roy (29) adds that the Sung dynasty characters were introduced by writing their surname with a parenthesis beside it bearing the date. On the other hand, Ming dynasty characters were identified in the notes. Characters include Ch’en, Ch’ing, Tun, Ts’ai Ching, Han, Chou and many others.
The prequel of this literally work was not welcomed by the people. They claimed that the work was of pornographic nature (Yuanbin 11). This was because the work was full of graphic sexual depiction. Therefore for a long period, the novel was prohibited to be accessed by the public. Also according to Buddhist morality, it was frowned upon due to its cult element in it. Other element in the novel which was set as a song dynasty was also annoying to the public. They later proved to be satirical to the Ming government and the society at large as added by Roy (32).
Yuanbin (19) proposes that the narration of Xiamen Qing character life was also not welcomed by many households. It gave a description of life of Xiamen Qing together with his household as full of rise and fall. Instead, Qing was a wealthy big sea trader and had a lot of money. He was so influential and therefore he could use his money to seduce women in order to gain power. All his actions were directed towards women and therefore the Plum in the Golden Vase became the first Chinese literature novel to portray women in this extent or context (Lin-xi 33).
Also a historical fact that existed before the novel plot was developed was the development in China. It is reported that the province of Jiangxi was one of the first large industrial centers in China and consequently one of the earliest in the world. The local tradition has the records that pottery was largely made in this province as documented by Yuanbin (27). From here, porcelain and pottery could then be supplied to various places including emperors. Therefore this province functioned basically as a market and as a government control area for official directives. (Lin-xi 41)
Another story that is so vivid in the prequel of the novel is the one on Lin Chong (Lin-xi 44). His wife was so beautiful that she attracted the attention of Gao Yanei who was I the temple praying. Gao Yanei lust for Lin Chong’s wife tempted him to molest her but he could not succeed when Lin Chong showed up. Gao Yanei planned for sentencing Lin Chong to exile in attempt to marry his wife since she would be a free woman. Unfortunately, Lin Chong’s wife was so faithful to her husband and hanged herself after Gao Yanei continuously insisted to marry her.
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Yuanbin (39) has it that another character grouped in the list of water margin characters is Jin Cuilian. Cuilian was a young woman who was mistreated by Zheng who was a butcher. Zheng was attracted towards Jin because of her beauty since he wanted to make Jin her concubine. After Jin entered Zheng’s household, his wife hated her and later on drove her away. Jin Cuilian and her father was forced to perform at the street in order to accumulate money to repay the debt they owed Zheng (Roy 33).
Lin-xi (79) adds that generally, the prequel of this novel depicts a society that is not morally upright. The novel describes in detail the downfall of many characters including Ximen and others whose deeds were so openly known to the public. A key episode in the novel is seduction (Roy 39). Many characters are lecherous and even go further to murder husbands to suitors they were attracted to. The story also follows the domestic sexual struggle between men for women. They do this to have their prestige and influence to their local clans men.
Lin-xi, Y. A. N. G. “Woman· Symbol· Sexual Passion——Women in The Plum in a Golden Vase [J].” Journal of Harbin University, 2010. Print.
Roy, David Tod. The Plum in the Golden Vase or, Chin P’ing Mei: Volume Four: The Climax. Vol. 4. Princeton University Press, 2011. Print.
Yuanbin, Zhou. “Elements of the Talking-Singing Arts in The Plum in the Golden Vase [J].” Journal of Shandong Teachers’ University (Humanities and Social Sciences). 2009. Print.