Journey to the west is a historic Chinese novel that is considered one of the four classics from the Ming Dynasty. These novels along with the golden lotus water margins as well as the romances of the three kingdoms have won popular acclaim from generation to generation. Journey to the west is a combination of myth parable and comedy. It is a story about a Buddhist monk and bunch of animals with human characteristic. The animals actually in the story are a very fairy tale type of mood and they traveled west to India to find Buddhist scriptures. The animals themselves are celestial being in mortal forms and they have magical powers that protect them from the goblins and the evil spirits.
Author Wu Cheng-en writings create an imaginary world that creates a life like with the absurd giving us a glance of the different sides of human nature.
Monkey was created out of a rock. He not only has the sharp wit and an unruly nature of a monkey but also extra ordinary powers that he uses to overcome demons and monsters. Pig sets off his pig like clumsiness with the disposition that is the epitome of honesty and directness. He is always making a mess out of things and generating a lot of humor in the process.
Before the monk can find the scriptures he must surmounts 81 obstacles including overcoming such supernatural beings as cow demon the spider beast and a living skeleton. These obstacles symbolize the difficulties and challenges that people meet in the course of ideals.
The character is the main reason that journey to the west keeps reader in thrall. The book gets more then and uproars comedy. It gives us readers an unforgivable insight into life itself.
As for the historical record of journey to the west let's go back to the Tang dynasty. History actually recalls the Buddhist monk master Shan-chang or master Xuan Zhuang who crossed he mighty desert to reach the India continent during the Tang dynasty. 19 years later he came back to china with over 600 Buddhist scriptures. So the factual basis of journey to the west was born. However master Xuan Zhuang actually was a little bit different from master san tong. Who was actually a fictional character created by the author?
In a novel, Tang Shan-chang maybe a monk on a daring mission to find Buddha scriptures. But he is also a faint-hearted hypocrite who lacks transcendent insight and lives life in pectoral fear. He is kind and compassionate but his inability to distinguish between true and false hood make him all to susceptible to pig's effort to sew this court. The result is that he wrongly distresses monkey who can see through the bio schemes of evil spirits and demons. But of course when he has fallow blindly in the trap of some fin or other it is always monkey that fall back on for help.
Actually the character of the monk happens to be quite similar to the mythical scholar although he is an idealist at heart he is as weak as a kitten and just sets there helplessly for rescue when he gets into a predicament.
The author is perhaps making a sly jab at the incompetent rulers of his time. But if Tang Shan-chang is evaluated purely from his viewpoint of religion or spiritual attainment he appears as not a saintly monk but rather an ordinary man. So monkey is the real hero in journey to the west. Monkey is created from a rock on enchanted mountain and because of his courage and insight is later anointed by his peers as king. But one day in a flash of enlightenment, this glorious monkey king see that life is a very temporary thing and that the delights of his timely existence in the area mountain tree cannot go on forever. Amazingly he gives it all up to find a master who can guide him on to the path of spiritual motivation.
Monkey is gifted with intelligence and agility both mentally and physically. So he puts his talents to use by mastering his skills of wizardry to the point of where he can transform himself 72 times in a blink of an eye. He has a magic wan that can shrink smaller the pen or expand till it is like a club of bronze and a magic cloud that can take him up to the heavens or down to the bales of the earth.
The monkey still retains his mischievous and playful temperament of his fellow apes. His intelligence and child like naughtiness are reviled when he does things like deliberately sending pig to scan the near by mountain and then transforming himself into an insect to keep an eye on his indolent companion.
Fearing nothing the monkey would play in the palace of the sea god in heaven or in Hades itself. He even makes a bet with Buddha. His is a rebellious character that will just not bow to established rules.
Full of life and filled with spirit as well as being sincere and optimistic in nature, he is not bothered by suffering and is always ready to face up to new challenges. This kind of wiliness to forge ahead maybe the stuff those heroes are made out of. But it carries with it a weakness of arrogance impulsiveness and a desire to excel over others.
Pig fills a role that symbolizes the desire to comfort and pleasure. He to has magical powers but it is just not the same as monkey. Who makes him seem naive and clumsy by comparison monkey just love to tease him so pig does his level best to be a thorn in monkeys side by telling lies about him to tong song jon.
Pig is a lazy gluttonous that needs his material comforts when it comes to trouble he just can't hold his side up so is always first to call on for help. During their journey he nearly cast his companion in his own spiritual cultivation inside. When he falls for enticement of beautiful women and riches. But if finally turns out to be all work of Buddha salvia that has come to test him. Yet thanks to the author pig ludicrous behavior brings an ironic smile to the readers face rather then a frown of disapproval because while pig makes a laughing stock of him self-the reader is reminded of the covetous raspy nature that empathy the human condition.
Another character that appears quite less frequently is friar san when he does take the stage. His quite resolute and down to nature are readily apparent.
Actually In journey of the west is purification of the mind so that the entire expedition to find Buddha scriptures is actually a way of achieving spiritual goodness. So in this play three arrogant weakness laziness even ignorance they are all weakness of human nature that requires spiritual correction. However honesty goodness and courage are all our friends in the depths of our soul. And this way the journey to the west the various characters in battle with evil and they teach us that in human life it is possible and temper ourselves to achieve ideals and goodness.
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