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Copy of Monkey's Character Analysis

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明珠 黃

on 9 July 2014

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Transcript of Copy of Monkey's Character Analysis

As an animal...
As a person...
As a god...
Monkey‘s Character Analysis
Introduction to Monkey
Monkey is one of main characters in "Journey to the West". Monkey was born in a rock which gathered the pure essences of Heaven and the fine savours of Earth, the vigour of sunshine and the grace of moonlight. He was the first one who crossed the water fall and came into the Water Curtain Cave, so he was respected as "Monkey King" by other monkeys.

In order to look for methods to live longer, he went out and learned a lot of unique skills from Master Puti. However, because he created a tremendous uproar in the heavenly palace, he was punished to be crushed under the Mountain of the Five Elements for more than five hundred years. Later, he was revealed by Kuan-yin Bodhisattva and saved by Tripitaka. On the journey to the west, he protected Tripitaka and experienced eighty-one difficulties.

Monkey is a character who represents the kindness, justice and courage.

Monkey’s Profile
Name: Headsome Monkey King, Stone Monkey, Aware- of- Vacuity
Birth Place: The Fruit and Flowers Mountain
Jobs: Faquir
Achievements: Create a tremendous uproar ( in the heavenly palace ) , finish the journey to the west
Master: Tripitaka
Junior Fellow Apprentice: Pigsy and Monk Sha
Weapon: Golden Cudgel
Unique Skills: Seventy-two metamorphoses, Somersault cloud
Title: Great Sage Equalling Heaven
An General Analysis of Monkey's Change
Generally, Monkey is a very complex character. It seems that he gathers the characteristics from animals, human-beings and gods. He is naughty regardless of rules and regulations, which shows that he is just an animal without the constraints of Confucian ethics. However, he has unique personalities like a real person. After he went out of Water Curtain Cave, he changed to be patient and cautious to consider things, especially during the journey to the west. Meanwhile, he behaves like a god because he owns superb abilities and spells which can fight with evil spirits.
These three characteristics express that author's thoughts about the whole society. Being influenced by Confucianism, people complied with various rules, however, they hoped to break out some unreasonable parts of feudal ethics to make their life better and more free. Monkey is a heroic character that carries people's desire for freedom.
The Chapter One of Monkey
How does reading Monkey change or inform my view of Chinese culture and society
Reading Monkey helps me learn Chinese history and ancient Chinese culture. Through gathering three characteristics from animals, human-beings and gods on Monkey, the author shows the complex human nature. By describing fighting with different demons, it demonstrates people hope that they want to be against the feudal ethical code and the social rules were unreasonable and unfair for the bottom of society at that time.

Monkey also changes some of my view about ancient Chinese culture and society. Originally, I think ancient Chinese culture may have a very big or even a total difference with the modern Chinese culture. After reading it, I thinks some of ancient Chinese culture still makes sense for our life now. For instance, people believe in "When the time comes, evil is rewarded with evil, and good with good." Another case is that some older generations believe in Buddhism and they hope Buddha can save them and get them out of troubles.

In my opinion, Monkey is easy to read and understand in four classic novels in ancient China. It has distinctive characters and attractive details to show what the society was at that time. There is no clear distinction between Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism in this novel because the emperor at that time advocated combination of these three religions.
Reading Monkey is beneficial for people to know more history about Ming Dynasty in ancient China and let people understand more about ancient people's life at that time.
---How does reading Monkey change or inform my view of Chinese culture and society?
As an animal
As a god
As a person
In fact, Monkey started to have his awareness to be immortal like a human being when he lived in the Water Curtain Cave. In Chapter 1 of Monkey, Monkey said, "But the time will come when I shall grow old and weak. Yama, King of Death, is secretly waiting to destroy me. Is there no way by which, instead of being born again on earth, I might live forever among the people of the sky?" Monkey was afraid that he would leave the world and his monkeys around him one day. He began to have a desire for a longer life, but not just live like an animal without any thoughts.
Another place can reflect Monkey has human being's thinking is in Chapter, "One of them, who stood his ground, Monkey caught hold of, ripping off his clothes, found out how to wear them himself, and so dressed up went prancing through towns and cities, in market and bazzar, imitating the people's manners and talk." This description shows that Monkey gave his efforts and tried to integrate into the community. He does not want to be discriminated, so he learned to be a normal person in the society.
Meanwhile, it reflected that the Chinese culture attached importance to etiquette and regulations. Under the ideas of Confucius, people hoped to live a better and longer life. Also it shows a point of Confucianism, which is that people seek for common points. They hope to live a similar life with others without any discrimination. I wonder that's why Monkey wants to dress up like other people and he wants to be accepted by this society.
From some plots, we can know Monkey has a wildness. He looks down on etiquette. In Chapter 14 of "Monkey", it said, " 'Have you no eyes in your head,' shouted Monkey. 'The man of T'ang is my master. I am his disciple, and no man of T'ang or sugar-man or honey-man either. I am the Great Sage Equal to Heaven. You people here know me well enough, and I have seen you before. " Monkey is easy to express his emotion. He doesn't realize that he need to control his words and behaviors, which shows his animal nature.
Meanwhile, Chapter 14 mentioned " 'I don't mind telling you,' said Monkey, 'that five hundred years ago, when I was a king, I killed a pretty fair number of people, and if I had held your view I should certainly never have become the Great Sage Equal of Heaven.' " From Monkey's words, we can know he doesn't care people's lives. It reflects that he is cruel like an animal without moral baptism. He doesn't feel shamed of it, on the contrary, he thinks it is legitimate.
These two descriptions factually shows some a dark side of the society at that time. For example, some people were blind to follow something wrong and became cruel or immoral. People at the upper class have privileges, so they only care their own benefits regardless of lives of society's bottom.
In Chapter 1, there is a description for Monkey's birth: "...Fructified by the wind it developed into a stone monkey, complete with every organ and limb. At once this monkey learned to climb and run; but its first act was to make a bow towards each of the four quarters. As it did so, a steely light darted from this monkey's eyes and flashed as far as the Palace of the Pole Star." This unusual birth process seems to forecast Monkey will have an unusual experience in his future, and demonstrates he has some extraordinary skills like a god.
Similarly, there is another description for Monkey's unique skills in Chapter 14: "He took a hair from his tail, blew on it with magic breath, and it became a sharp little knife, with which he slit the tiger's skin straight down and ripped it off in one piece."
This depiction shows that Monkey is wise, brave and talented to fight with wild beast. It is a deification of Monkey, which reflects that ordinary people want to be extraordinary to figure out some problems that they cannot solve actually. People hope there will be a superb power can help them get out of the trouble, such as the bully of might. It shows that traditional Chinese people believe in oneness and advocate holism.
Wei Huang
Multimodal Presentation Proposal
June 20, 2013

1. Wu Ch’eng-en. "Monkey." The Norton Anthology of World Literature. Simon. ed. Conor Sullivan. 2nd ed. Vol. 2. New York: Norton, 2012. 41-47. Print.

2. Wikipedia contributors. "Journey to the West." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 18 Jun. 2013. Web. 20 Jun. 2013.

3. Yemao. “Monkey King.” Picture. Nipic.com 5 Jan. 2012.

4. Angus, Colonel. “Journey to the West.” Project: Report. YouTube, 27 Jan. 2013. Web. 19 Jun. 2013.
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