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




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.



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