Running head: DREAM OF THE RED CHAMBER

Dream of the Red Chamber

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August 3, 2011

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Dream of the Red Chamber

The ‘Qing’ Paradox within the Enlightenment

Enlightenment within Buddhist practices is based on the presumption that the world exists in an incorporeal nature, in essence being an illusion, that every individual is mandated to rouse from. Within the publication’s opening, the reader is introduced to the character, the Stone; a mystical being in possession of conscious capability. Goddess Nuwa utilizes the Stone in her function as the sky mender and during the renovation process she decides to allow a fragment of the Stone into the corporeal world on a learning mission. Due to the incorporeal nature, the Stone is incarnated into the physical realm as Jia Baoyu, the leading character in the publication (Liu, & Shu, 2008). Goddess Nuwa’s charge to the Stone is primarily interacting with the human populace and identifying the vanity evidenced in human subsistence. Therefore, it is only with this realization that Baoyu can become enlightened, and thus attain the initial incorporeal nature. Note that, the goddess refuses to utilize the Stone in the mending requirement due to its imperfections and therefore prefers the incarnation experience as the means to overcoming the imperfections. “Observing that all the other blocks had been used for celestial repairs and that it was the only one to have been rejected as unworthy,” (Yi, 2004, p. 17).

Baoyu is born into the physical realm with the stone fragment in his mouth, drawing a succinct indication that he is the Stone’s incarnate. The child is a succinct reflection of the imperfections that the Stone bears within the mending episode. Within the development period, Baoyu’s imperfections begin exhibiting to his relatives. Baoyu is born into an affluent household and as commonly noted within the human society, the child takes the opportunity as unimportant thereby necessitating the enlightenment course even more (Xueqin, 2010). Baoyu’s decisions and actions are meaningless and of no benefit to the family. Grandmother Jia with the knowledge of Baoyu’s birth regarding the fragmented stone offers a strict environment in his development phase where his movements are constrained within a garden. Within the enclosure, Baoyu is encircled by females comprising of his cousins, sister and female servants. In fact, Baoyu is the only male character within the enclosure with the setting’s rationale being the exclusion of male contamination within the garden. Baoyu’s father, as well as other male figures within the family, is unhappy with his son’s inclination to associations with the females as opposed to societal requirements of learning.

The publication offers the various enlightenment phases Baoyu deals with as presented by the love paradox (Li, 1993). The initial setting of Baoyu’s physical existence is located in the Prospect Garden that is full with charming memories as evidenced by the poetry sessions, feasts and drama staging practices. Baoyu is also noted as having no form of concern with the other community and therefore breeding an egocentric personality as contrasted to his father in his selflessness in trying to save the family from the financial problems that are soon noted. The garden to Baoyu acts as a form of illusion since he is able to flee from the society’s corroded nature as evidenced by monetary lack, gender inequity, immorality between same and different sexes, women subjugation and the underprivileged (Knoerle, 1972). The garden suppresses the aforementioned issues through the innocence exhibited by the young girls whose morals and personalities demonstrate splendor and purity within the wretched society. Humorously, Baoyu views the girls as pure as water whereas the males are likened to mud water. The same impure aspect is also directed to aged and wedded women whom by the nature of association with men, especially sexual relations acquire the impure aspect.

The garden and young female company therefore offers a perfect setting for Baoyu in the creation of an exclusionary setting within the story, acting as the leeway from his denial of his imminent adulthood. Bayou actually bears no sensual love towards his cousins and only offers attention to their many needs and male company within the detention area. This amplifies the separation practices eminent within the community between the male and female genders. From this it is evident that women were treated as inequitable beings by the fact that they are constrained from accessing learning institutions by the strict seclusion in enclosures like the garden whereas the men were liberated in pursuing scholarly knowledge (Lawall, & Mack, 2003). Bayou however as shaped by his egocentric practices only offers his support to the girls by his knowledge that their removal from the garden would puncture his illusionary world as well as his identity that is shaped by the presence of the females. Therfore, the more Bayou opposes experiencing love the more his enlightenment tarries.

Lack of enlightenment is also enhanced by the fact that Bayou refuses to honor Confucian theories that embrace altruism. For instance, in one of the dialogues that Bayou has with a maid servant he expresses his disdain to the view that a learner should die while defending the throne while a warrior should dedicate his life in offering safe guards to the same throne. For Bayou, unless an action revolved around him then he would rather not consider it. Additionally, he mentions to the maidservant that rather than dying for the sake of others, it would be better for him to die gloriously in the presence of the girls so that only pure tears could be shed and his physical body transported to an uncontaminated location. Bayou’s naivety with regard to love and sexual attractions is however transitory as the pubescent stage sets in and he acquires multiple interests towards the girls. This acts as a very defining element within the publication as it reflects the first exposure that Bayou has to the real world, and more precisely the love domain that he initially shuns with a lot of resentment (Edwards, 2005).

Bayou’s attraction is multifaceted in that he loves multiple characters simultaneously; his biggest attraction is noted in Lin Daiyu. His selection of Daiyu is by the fact that amongst all his female friends within the garden, she is the only one who exhibits a higher comprehension and appreciation for his true personality. Despite a mutual love appeal between both individuals, the characters are unable to begin their love together by what seems to be supernatural elements (Li, 2004). With the story’s progression, the reader learns that prior to the incarnation process the Stone plays a direct responsibility in the personification of the Crimson Pearl Flower from the incorporeal realm into the physical one in a female body. Therefore, the Crimson Pearl Flower promises to avenge the process to the Stone. The Crimson Pearl Flower is the character Lin Daiyu whose chief function within the publication is achieving retribution to Baoyu. In actuality therefore, Daiyu’s work within the physical realm is ensuring that Baoyu fails to attain the enlightenment. Baoyu and Daiyu are drawn to each other as lovers and although his enlightenment path must be attained through the love factor, it as concerned with Daiyu and her role, it only becomes an obstruction.

The obstruction is enhanced by the fact that Baoyu and Daiyu are true relationship within the incorporeal realm is that each acts as a nemesis to the other. Therefore, the same association is applied into the physical realm very powerfully in a way that it overcomes the love existing between them. No matter what the two individuals resort to in enhancing their relationship, distrust, anguish and disappointments plague the institution and therefore actively keeps them apart. Baoyu is therefore introduced to the other facet of the society to feel the pain that individual have to bear within their existence. Faced with frequent disappointments in his desire for a relationship with Daiyu, Baoyu directs his feelings in poetry, acting and Buddhist observances at least for consolation (Lopez, 1995). Note that, pain serves as a significant element in Buddhism enlightenment and therefore, as Baoyu starts interacting with the same the revelations towards his enlightenment begin to manifest. However, at such instances Baoyu suddenly slumbers or becomes distracted and thereby preventing the enlightenment.

To enhance the process, higher forms of suffering are necessitated and therefore Jia’s family notes monetary bankruptcy that forces the family members into a lower societal level and the residential structures together with the garden are acquired as collateral towards the financial arrears owed to various individuals. The young maidens are forcefully wedded into other families and this multiplies Baoyu’s distress and pain (Zhang, 2004). Jia Yingchun is given off into an arranged matrimony to an individual who is brutal and violent and therfore a constant cause of hurt to her. The arrangement occurs between Yingchun’s father and the unnamed man as the former tries to settle a monetary obligation. Jia Tanchun is given off to a military employee and thus forces her to relocate to a distant location and thereby causing physical separation with the other family members. Jia Yachunun on the other hand dies strangely and in an immature age. The rest of the handmaids and girls are also married leaving Baoyu forlorn and empty as his identity is majorly shaken.

It is therfore worthy to note that, Baoyu’s attempt to create an in existent world for his definition of fulfillment was bound to fail from the initiation process. This is because, as the novel advance, we learn that prior to the garden experience Baoyu had already become sexually enticed by his sensual needs as noted by the relation between him and the prostitute Qin Keqing. In fact, he also has a homosexual relation with Qin Zhong, Keqing’s sibling (Xueqin, 2007). His subjective confinement to the garden is therfore in an attempt to overcome his wrongs by trying to deny his immoral practices. Although the experiences are highlighted as having taken place in his early growth experience, his adulthood bears another form of actualization in which character will be able to comprehend the sexual element once again. Bayou tends to offer resistance to the actualization process but the incorporeal realm intercedes in order to hasten the enlightenment requirement.

Within the incorporeal world, the enlightenment aspect is shared between goddess Nuwa and the Fairy Disenchantment. The goddess’ central function is the fashioning of Baoyu’s incarnation whereas Fairy Disenchanted is liable to the instillation of leading visions and dreams within Baoyu’s head as a means of revealing the enlightenment path to him. In actuality, the intervention is accorded to the goddesses as entreated by Bayou’s ancestors. Bearing a supernatural aspect within his being, Baoyu has been familiarized with both homo and heterosexual relations in a vision form that transports him to the Land of Illusion. Within the given illusion period, Baoyu encounters Qin Keqing who is a conjoined form of Lin Daiyu and Xue Baochai (Xueqin, 2007). The inter-realm relaying of Bayou is actually performed by Fairy Disenchanted on the justification that the inclusion of sensual pleasure to the individual will spur an experiencing shock that will act as a significant milestone in his enlightenment.

The Fairy Disenchanted also believed that the incident would open Bayou’s eyesight to the ensnaring nature of sensual gratification and in turn offer the desired end of creating a committed love and devotion to Confucianism instructions. The paradox created in Fairy Disenchanted words with regard to the actualization of true love is based on the rationale that strength is only acquired after one overcomes his fears and thereby dominating the issue. Therefore, Bayou’s dread towards his impure practices with regard to sexual issues within the given age would never be truly destroyed unless he learned to be in the presence of sensual enticement and master the experience. Only then can true liberty and empowerment be achieved and subsequently the ultimate form of enlightenment on the subject (Plaks, 1976). Note that, it is with his state of liberation that Bayou can be able to attain true love and the end of his enlightenment. Additionally, other than experiencing love Baoyu must attain a pure sexual relationship with a female in his adulthood as the ultimate indication of a pure and informed decision.

With the visitation to the Land of Illusion and the sexual triangle created between Baoyu and Keqing, the goddesses are able to relay their message with regard to the tow main individuals that hold the power to achieving true empowerment or actual inability to his predestined role. Xue Baochai is Baoyu’s true lover and wife as ordained by the goddesses and the sexual interaction is employed to act as the channel to his enlightenment through the realization that contentment is only achieved through intellectual enhancement in overcoming the illusion aspect and not through sensual gratification (Liu, & Shu, 2008). As Bayou returns to the corporeal realm, he continues experiencing other forma of calamities that act as an impetus towards a positive inclination towards Confucianism. Some scholars posit that this move from Bayou’s initial Buddhist practices and to what his father initially required is a reflection of the alignment of the goddesses’ participation in his decisions upon the interconnection with the incorporeal nature. It evidences the work of the spiritual order within the physical world in a bid to create harmony and will in accordance with the given higher roles.

Therefore, Bayou’s father evidences a physical reaching created by the goddesses towards Bayou in directing him to Confucianism ideologies. Although he may have initially discredited the guidance from his father, the intangible powers manipulate other channels and finally spur him towards the required direction (Edwards, 2005). Additionally, obedience is also noted as a paramount element within one’s enlightenment. In fact, had Bayou chosen to comply with his father’s instructions, he would have averted the pain and suffering that was evidenced in his encounters. However, all things at the end work within the predestined purpose and the Buddhist practices do impart a significant aspect of overcoming the character imperfections within the protagonist. As Bayou applies himself to Confucianism, enlightenment starts occurring first within his intellect.

This is indicated later between the physical pairing of Baoyu weds Baochai marking the advent of the enlightenment process. The reader learns that Baochai owns a piece of jewelry bearing an engraved message that matches a similar one in Baoyu’s stone fragment. It therefore beats common sense as to why Bayou lacks the comprehension capability in identifying his enlightenment path through the given clue. Bayou’s mind appears to have been clouded by the ignorance within his intellect and only in aligning to the religious requirements doe he begin his discernment (Edwards, 2005). The family too plays a significant aspect within the enlightenment through the marriage requirements noted in the given community. Women are subjectively criticized with regard to the procreation aspect with family members mandated in choosing marriage partners with regard to the same. Additionally, a woman’s eligibility to marriage is also based on the capability to bear male children, for instance, Baochai is preferred over Daiyu as the since her health acts as a favorable indication of child bearing.

Male children are desired within the setting as an indication of clan continuity and therefore women bearing only female children are deemed as lesser individuals. Therefore, although Baoyu seems to still have a higher predisposition towards Daiyu, the family as a higher authority opposes the association and coerces Baoyu to into accepting Baochai as his wife. A paradox is therefore presented once again within the relationship that occurs amongst the three characters in the love association in the incorporeal realm. As Baoyu shares a part of Baochai in the sexual encounter, it acts as a propellant in the execution of the planned marriage. Daiyu acts as the obstacle within the relation whereas Baoyu acts as the path (Wu, 1970). However, the resolution has to be given by Baoyu and with the coercion of his parents the right decision is accorded. Note that, as Baoyu is joined physically to Baochai, Daiyu passes away within the same period. The paradox therefore created is that upon the merging of the two women within the Illusion dimension predisposes the fact that with the persistence of one, the other must cease existence.

Therefore, if Baoyu has chosen to wed Daiyu, then Baochai would cease her existence within the physical realm and this would have meant that the protagonist would never achieve enlightenment. Daiyu’s role would be achieved through this by acting as a permanent barrier for the process (Liu, & Shu, 2008). Although some scholars take the position that Baoyu is deceived into the marriage, it is good to reflect on the aspect that the incorporeal world as ruled by the goddesses possessed the power to affect the physical realm in accordance to the predestined routes. This involves the inclusion of other individuals in propelling the given individual into the desired direction. Therefore, the action does not necessarily reflect human desire but the higher purpose instituted by the incorporeal beings that share within Bayou’s real identity. With the love paradox finally achieved by Bayou, he attains his full enlightenment and is ruptured away from his earthly life in the presence of his relatives and wife and he only reappears in the presence of two Buddhist religious leaders.

As Bayou devotes his life to the spiritual requirements, self deliverance is attained once he learns to view others in sympathy and feeling as to share within their experiences and feelings (Edwards, 2005). This actually serves as the conscious element that he initially acquires from the goddess during the incarnation experience. By capturing back the spiritual side that he had lost within the initial fall, the Stone is remade once more but within a perfected level upon the realization of the vanity faced by the human populace. Therefore, love and suffering act as the main enhancers of the enlightenment requirement.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

References

Edwards, L. (December 02, 2005). Fictions of Enlightenment: Journey to the West, Tower of Myriad Mirrors and Dream of the Red Chamber, and: Androgyny in Late Ming and Early Qing Literature (review). China Review International, 12, 1, 154-156.

Knoerle, J. (1972). The dream of the red chamber: A critical study. Bloomington: Indiana University Press; for the International Affairs Center.

Lawall, S. N., & Mack, M. (2003). The Norton anthology of world literature: Volume D. Princeton, N.J: Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic.

Li, W. (1993). Enchantment and disenchantment: Love and illusion in Chinese literature. Princeton, N.J: Princeton University Press.

Li, Q. (2004). Fictions of enlightenment: Journey to the west, Tower of myriad mirrors, and Dream of the red chamber. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press.

Liu, Z., & Shu, Y. (2008). Reflections on Dream of the red chamber. Amherst, N.Y: Cambria Press.

Lopez, D. S. (1995). Buddhism in practice. Princeton, N.J: Princeton University Press.

Plaks, A. H. (1976). Archetype and allegory in the Dream of the red chamber. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press.

Wu, C.  (January 01, 1970). Journey to the west. Fictions of Enlightenment : Journey to the West, Tower and Myriad Mirrors, and Dream of the Red Chamber.

Xueqin, Cao. (2010). Dream of the Red Chamber. Gardners Books.

Xueqin, C. (2007). Hung lou meng or the dream of the red chamber. S.l.: Indypublish Com.

Yi, J. J. (2004). The dream of the red chamber: an allegory of love. Paramus, NJ: Homa & Sekey Books.

Zhang, L. (September 01, 2004). History and Fictionality: Insights and Limitations of a Literary Perspective. Rethinking History, 8, 3, 387-402.

 

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