Aspirations in Chinese Film and Literature

For this paper, I will be comparing and contrasting the aspirations within characters throughout the Chinese film “Green Snake” and also within the Chinese novel “Monkey.” I will show how various characters went about their ways to achieve those aspirations and whether or not they were able to achieve them.

 

In the film “Green Snake,” Green is a snake who is under the guidance of White Snake in order to learn what the human realm of emotions and overall experience of

 

life is made of. Due to the lack of training in comparison with White, Green

 

approaches the human realm only in regards to what White tells her it is made of, and

 

how she sees White acting in her everyday routines on Earth.

 

Green first learns what romance is. She sees how White approaches the scholar

 

Xu in an attempt to seduce him and imitates White’s every move by practicing alone

 

while watching White from a nearby place. Later, she finds Xu when he is not around

 

and attempts to use on him what she learned. Before the situation is able to transform

 

into something sexual, White appears and takes her away explaining that she had sought

 

that man out first and it is wrong to take from others. Green can only nod her head

 

giving the appearance that she understands, but later she repeats a similar scenario.

 

One day when White and Xu were embraced in sex, Green appeared by the window

 

sill and observed the two. As she peered on, she began to copy the sounds and

 

movements of them rather than thinking about how she will approach a situation like

 

that herself. Green watches until the two are done and later finds Xu to practice what

 

her mentor White has presented. Once again, as Green is about to try and seduce Xu,

 

White enters and pulls her away explaining how she is wrong for acting that way. Green

 

becomes confused at this point and begins to wonder what love is about. She argues

 

with White for not teaching her properly and begins to wonder what justifies love in

 

the human realm and whether or not two people can love the same person.

 

Towards the end of the film, Green has gone through many experiences of human

 

emotions ranging from romance, love, kindness, and justice. She learns from her

 

mistakes within romance and love to help her understand what people on Earth seek for

 

in basic communication/feelings and in the end of the film she sees how there are also

 

faults to those as well.

 

By trying to help White’s lover in the end, she sees how he has fallen to

 

another’s control by having his thoughts blanked out and he is left with no self-

 

control. Green understands that while humans experience good in the world, they also

 

experience hardships like arguments, misunderstandings, and allusions. She realizes

 

that the separations and pain caused by one another in the world of humans is a result

 

of not knowing themselves, their surroundings, and their own personal morality well

 

enough and that if some one who is in love with another person really cherishes their

 

relationship, the people within the relationship should experience the same emotions.

 

Therefor, at the end she takes the life of White’s lover Xu to match what has happened

 

to White and lets them experience death together. At that point, Green finally

 

releases her true emotions and knows what it means to shed tears for something. Her

 

goal of human understanding in the realm of experiencing true human emotions with that

 

of romance, love and pain is complete and she affirms it by telling the monk Fa Hai

 

that once humans realize to fix their problems within the world, and know how to

 

embrace one another more truthfully, she will then return. Green then leaves into the

 

sea and vanishes as a confirmation to what she told the monk.

 

The next character to introduce is Fa Hai. Fa Hai is a monk of extreme magical

 

powers and is on his quest for achieving enlightenment. He firmly believes in the

 

obedience of abiding by all of Buddha’s sutra’s/teachings and regards those who are

 

not followers of Buddha to be at a loss. Throughout his journey of exploring the

 

world, he learns new things about humans and other non-humans and in the end changes

 

his fundamentalist attitude to a broader understanding of the world.

 

One day while traveling through the woods, Fa Hai mistakes a spider-god who is

 

trying to improve his spiritual attainment for being a demon of some sort. He is

 

convinced that the spider is only up to creating havoc on earth and decides to trap

 

the spider-god under a pagoda. Later, Fa Hai realizes the good nature of the spider

 

and sets off to release it. When Fa Hai reaches the place, the spider has turned into

 

it’s original form and Fa Hai realizes what a poor judgment he had made and scolds

 

himself for doing so.

 

Another time when Fa Hai is in the woods, he comes across two snakes that are

 

sheltering a woman during a heavy rainfall while giving birth. He first has the

 

instinct to go and rescue the woman thinking that the snakes were going to harm her,

 

but instead he witnesses their good deeds and declares that they are of good nature.

 

Once again he is mistaken for something he thought he was sure about and begins to see

 

his old ideology of good and bad change.

 

The third time Fa Hai is mistaken is at the end of the film. He is about to

 

Kill White Snake for the chaos she caused in the Buddhist palace when he suddenly

 

realizes that she is giving birth. Fa Hai is in disbelief due to the fact that a non-

 

human was able to transcend to the level of human and envies her for that

 

accomplishment. At this point he realizes all the mistakes he has made by labeling

 

others before actually knowing them and comes to the conclusion that everything in

 

life has its mistakes and misperceptions and that even he can learn from them. He

 

therefor changes his ideology of viewing non-Buddhists and begins to view humans

 

differently.

 

Along with his ideology being changed, Fa Hai is also seduced by Green Snake

 

on purpose to see if he can withstand her power. Fa Hai enters deep meditation but it

 

serves to fail him. He ends up slipping out of his meditation and threatens Green by

 

saying he will kill her. He disregards the fact that he himself asked Green to seduce

 

him and doesn’t realize the unnecessary anger he spills onto her. Once again, he finds

 

himself at a loss with his spiritual development and knows that there is much to learn

 

from others outside his every day Buddhist practice.

 

Overall, Fa Hai encounters 4 main scenarios that question his ideology upon

 

Buddhism and non-humans. Instead of achieving the original enlightenment he sought out

 

based solely on Buddhism, he found himself enlightened in a way that was non-

 

perceivable to his original thought. He achieved his aspirations by experiencing

 

situations that caused him to think differently and this made him understand a new

 

level of thinking and personal enlightenment.

 

In the novel “Monkey,” the main character Monkey is some one who is never

 

quite satisfied with his status on earth and always seeks new ways to attain further

 

power within himself and in Heaven. Because of this, Monkey makes drastic choices to

 

try and overtake Heaven by having battles with various gods and even drinks the elixir

 

of life. His obsession of power eventually leads him to a very unclear state of mind

 

and he loses a battle to Heaven. As a result, he gets buried under a mountain and

 

doesn’t get released until a monk comes along one day and offers Monkey a chance to

 

prove himself of his goodness. Monkey accepts and accompanies the Monk to India to

 

fetch various Sutras and to gain back his power and enlightenment that he once had and

 

abused.

 

Along the way, Monkey encounters many demons whom of which he tries to kill

 

off right away despite the fact that some were not even trying to hurt him and the

 

monk. The monk has to tell Monkey on several occasions that he needs to hold back and

 

try to improve himself of his hostility. Monkey finds this hard to realize since he

 

has been sheltered for so long and tells the monk that he understands, but that is far

 

from the case.

 

Further along the journey, Monkey encounters another demon figure who actually

 

is meant to be another disciple of the monk. He begins to battle with the demon until

 

the monk comes in between and breaks things up. Monkey is flabbergasted by the

 

situation and ends up flying high into the heavens telling the monk that he will never

 

return. His journey into the heavens leads him to a Bodhisattva who ends up directing

 

him back to earth telling him that his journey was meant to be with the monk and that

 

he is responsible for the monk and his safety the whole way to India and back. At this

 

point, Monkey realizes what his true nature for the time being and knows that he

 

should have patience and accept whatever may come on his journey.

 

At the end of the book, Monkey manages to stay with the monk the whole time

 

and has abided by the rules that were given to him on several occasions. Not only

 

that, he learns much from the sutras and realizes that the personal power that he

 

longed for such a long time has been only an illusion of desire and that that is why

 

he has never been able to feel satisfied with his life. Monkey therefor gains

 

enlightenment through the use of the sutras and his journey to the West proves to be

 

Monkey’s ultimate answer to his problems.

 

All in all, the characters that have been mentioned all went out to seek a new

 

understanding within a new realm or they were taught by others in various incidents

 

how to achieve a higher understanding of something. All of the characters end up

 

succeeding in their own personal way and with the evidence mentioned above, it shows

 

concrete examples of aspirations being sought out, dealt with, and conquered.

 

 

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