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Chen, "An analysis of characterization in 'The Romance of the Western Wing,' " 2002

USC thesis in Literature.
August 24, 2009

Yun-Ju Chen, M.A.

Abstract (Summary)
The purpose of this thesis is to examine the interactions of four central characters in Wang Shifu's Romance of the Western Chamber and to consider changes in the plot, characterization and outcome of the version of this classic Chinese story as interpreted by Wang Shifu. The central character selected for analysis is Miss Cui, the heroine of the story; it is hypothesized that Miss Cui is pivotal in terms of the relationships between Student Zhang (the lover and potential bridegroom), Madame Zheng (Miss Cui's mother), and Hongniang (Miss Cui's maid). The study, which draws upon several versions of the story as well as critical sources, reveals that in Wang Shifu's version, Miss Cui and Student Zhang are united in marriage after enduring various periods of separation and overcoming the objections of Madame Zheng. The critical difference between Wang Shifu's interpretation of the story and that of the original short story is the resolution of the relationship between the lovers to achieve a positive outcome. The study also reveals that Hongniang is instrumental in bringing about the liaison between the lovers out of a degree of self-interest.

Advisor: Hayden, George