Friday, July 26, 2013

Historical Context - The Butterfly Lovers


Karma Rider revolves around the tragic love tale of Liang Zhu (or The Butterfly Lovers), which is often considered as the Chinese equivalent to Romeo and Juliet.

The story of Liang Zhu takes place during the Eastern Jin Dynasty – 300 years prior to the setting of Karma Rider. At that time, females traditionally stayed at home and received no formal education. But Zhu Yingtai (祝英台), the sole daughter of a wealthy family, was an eager learner and begged her father to allow her to go to school. Her father reluctantly agreed, on the condition that she goes disguised as a man.

On her journey to the school, she meets a fellow scholar named Liang Sanbo (梁山伯). They got along well right from the start and grew closer as they studied together for the next three years. Though they shared the same desk and a room, Liang never noticed that his friend was a girl. On the other hand, Zhu slowly falls in love with Liang.

One day, Zhu receives a letter from her father telling her to go home. Liang insists on making the journey with her. As they walk, Zhu drops hints about her true identity, pointing to pairs of geese and ducks, but Liang doesn’t catch on. Before they part, Zhu asks Liang to visit her home so that he can meet her “twin sister”.

A while later, Liang visits Zhu at her home and much to his surprise, discovers that Zhu was actually a girl. He immediately proposes to her, but she tearfully informs him that her parents have already arranged for her to marry into the wealthy Ma family. The heartbroken Liang leaves and later dies from his depression.

On the wedding date, a grieving Zhu is accompanied by a wedding procession towards the Ma house. As the group approaches Liang’s grave, a mysterious wind stops them in their path. Zhu runs off to Liang’s grave. The grave suddenly opens up amidst thunder and lighting and Zhu jumps in to join Liang for eternity. As the weather clears, two butterflies can be seen emerging from the grave and flying away together.

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