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
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
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.