III. The Jin Ping Mei

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The Story of the Jin Ping Mei. The story is about Ximen Qing's economic and political machinations, his relationships with his various wives (eventually six), the women's mutual relationships, and Ximen Qing's family (and sexual) affairs and shady business dealings.Ximen Qing's ethical misconduct r

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III. The Jin Ping Mei

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1. III. The Jin Ping Mei??? The title of the Jin Ping Mei (Plum Bloosom in golden vase) is actually untranslatable; it is composed characters taken from the names of the three main female characters (Poon Jinling, Li Pingyee, Zhunmei ???,???,??). It is an anonymous novel in 100 chapters, thought to been written in the 1580s, but first printed in the last year of the Wanli period under the title Jin Ping Mei Chiua.?????

2. The Story of the Jin Ping Mei The story is about Ximen Qings economic and political machinations, his relationships with his various wives (eventually six), the womens mutual relationships, and Ximen Qings family (and sexual) affairs and shady business dealings. Ximen Qings ethical misconduct results in his early and horrible death, after which his household is broken up.

3. The Story of the Jin Ping Mei The subsequent life of the other characters is keeping with their former behavior: earlier good and evil meet with later reward and punishment. In other words, a prominent theme is the working of retribution within a single lifetime.

4. Analysis of the Characters: Ximen Qing He is the boss of the familyhis parents were death. He inherited a herbal-medicine store from his father. He gathered his wealth quickly and became one of the richest in the region (Shandong). He had a lot of assets. e.g. a big house with a hugh garden, a pawn-shop, a cloth-shop, a silk-shop, a herbal-medicine shop He later became the godson of a high official, and was given an official post.

5. Analysis of the Characters: Ximen Qing He loved women (sex) a lot and had sexual relationship with his maids, his employees wives, and prostitutes. Those women listened to him for different reasons (his status, power, money, sexual ability). He was very calculative and clever in spending money on women. Sudden death in his early 30s, because of over-dosed of sex-medication

6. Analysis of the Characters: Why Ximen Qing became so rich? 1. A good businessmen. His theory: Money is something that enjoys mobility 2. His wives brought in a lot of assets. e.g. His 3rd & sixth wife were extremely rich widows. 3. He ordered his employees to buy silk directly from the farmers (so as to keep the cost low) & he gave black-money to officials to avoid heavy tax across the provinces. 4. He had cash in hand. When a trader was in need of money, Ximen bought a ship of cloth in good price. 5. He was a loan-shark. (30% interest @month) 6. Much of his money came from corruption and bribery (after he became an official).

7. Analysis of the Characters: Ximens 1st wife: Wu??? Ximens first wife died before the story (had a daughter, got married in the beginning). Enjoyed all privileges of the official wife, being the head of the wives. e.g in making new clothes, triple the amount of others. Father: a mid-level official Traditional (under Confucian influence), conservative, good family background Very religious, believed in Buddhism and Daoism. In charged of the family assets e.g. Ximen kept all his money in her rooms. Never being the favorite of Ximen but did take it for granted. Rarely jealous of other wives.

8. Analysis of the Characters: Ximens 1st wife: Wu??? --- At first, she loved Poon (5th wife) very much and thought that Poon was very good. Later she found out that Poon was selfish and cruel. This showed that she was not very smart. Pregnant when Ximen died but her son had to become a monk. After that, she had to adopt one of Ximens close servant as her adopted son to inherit the family name and business (because there was no male in the family). Lived till 70 year-old. By the end, the only wife left in Ximens house

9. III. The Jin Ping Mei The idea for the novel is taken from the story of Wu Song??in the Shuihu zhuan (Water Margin). The Jin Ping Mei described in great detail the life of the apothecary Ximen Qing???and his household in a provincial town in Shandong??. The novel is supposedly set in the early 12th century (Song Dynasty) but the social setting as described is clearly that of the 16th century (Ming Dynasty).

10. Analysis of the Characters: Ximens 2nd wife: Li??? A prostitute before marriage The only wife who was fat Ximen rarely stayed in her room. Was the familys financial controller but later her maid stole a gold-bracelet and she had to give up the post. Not very important throughout the text Became a prostitute again after Ximens death, then became another rich mans concubine.

11. Analysis of the Characters: Ximens 3rd wife: Meng??? First married to a rich merchant of cloth Remarried Ximen when she was 30 She remarried with all the assets (cash and cloth) left by the first husband The 2nd richest wife of Ximen, e.g. she had two luxurious and beautiful beds Ximen rarely slept in her room except for the first two weeks of marriage Accepted the fact that she was not the beloved wife She and Poon formed a group After Ximens death, she chose a good man to be her husband and remarried. Had a happy life eventually.

12. Analysis of the Characters: Ximens 4th wife: Sun??? Was the close maid of the first official wife of Ximen. Of the lowest status among all wives Sometimes hardly beated by Ximen More like a servant than a wife, for she was always in the kitchen and preparing food for the family. Throughout the story, Ximen slept only a few times in her room.

13. Analysis of the Characters: Ximens 4th wife: Sun??? Always had quarrels with Poon Had an affair with one of the main servants After Ximens death, she wanted to run away with that servant with Ximens money. Both were caught. Later sold by court and became the maid of Zhunmei.

14. Analysis of the Characters: Ximens 5th wife: Poon??? One of the three most important female characters. Very beautiful and sexy (loved by Ximen at first sight) Came from a poor faimly. Father: a tailor (lower class) Sold to a rich family and became a maid when she was nine. Resold to another rich family when 15, and then she learned to play music.

15. Analysis of the Characters: Ximens 5th wife: Poon??? Had an affair with the Master at 18, but his wife was very tough. The wife deliberately married Poon to the ugliest man in town (the one who sold cakes in the market). After marriage, Poon still had sexual relationship with the old Master and the husband knew and allowed that (for the Master gave them money for doing small business and renting a house). Tried to seduce her brother-in-law (Wuzhung) but failed.

16. Analysis of the Characters: Ximens 5th wife: Poon??? Met and was seduced by Ximen when she was 27. She poisoned her husband and remarried Ximen. Xiemn gave her a close maid, Zhunmei (one of the three most important characters in the book, who later had sexual relationship with Ximen). Zhunmei and Poon were very close. She was very possessive and would be very angry if Ximen slept in any other wives rooms (especially after Li Pingyee gave birth to a son). A lot of sexual descriptions between Poon & Ximen

17. Analysis of the Characters: Ximens 5th wife: Poon??? Had an affair with Ximens son-in-law after the death of Ximen. Therefore, she was sold by Wu (1st wife) and bought by Wuzhung (brother-in-law of her first husband), for Wuzhung found out that she poisoned her first husband. Though she thought that Wuzhung was going to marry her, she was killed.

18. Ximens 6th wife: Li Pingyee??? One of the three most important female characters Very beautiful (loved by Ximen at the first sight), sexy, and snow-white like skin First marriage: a concubine of a high official, who was murdered. Left her a lot of money. Second marriage: to the nephew of the Kings servant (had an affair with the Kings servant, who later died and left her a great deal of wealth). This husband loved to stayed with the prostitutes and rarely went home.

19. Ximens 6th wife: Li Pingyee??? Met Ximen at 25 and was seduced by him. Let her husband died of illness (refused to get a doctor) Devoted to Ximen for he could sexually satisfy her. A lot of sexual descriptions between her & Ximen. She married Ximen and brought in a lot of money and assets to the family. Was the richest wife and was very generous. Kind to the maids and servants and they all loved her.

20. Ximens 6th wife: Li Pingyee??? Ximens favorite wife, especially after the birth of a son. Became a lovely and good wife after marrying Ximen. Poon was very jealous of her status and favor, and said a lot of wicked things about Li. Li was very unhappy. The son died after 1 year-old, as he was frightened by Poons cat. (Poon trained her cat to scratch packages in red for the son always dressed in red). Li was very depressed and died in a few months. Had an elaborative, luxurious funeral.

21. Analysis of the Characters: Zhunmei?? One of the three most important female figures. At first, a maid of Wu(1st wife), then a close maid of Poon (whom allowed Ximen to have sexual relationship with Mei). Arrogant and proud of herself The most important character after Ximens death After Ximens death, sold by Wu to become Official Zhous concubinebecause Wu found out that she had an affair with Ximens son-in-law. She gave birth to a son and became the official wife of Zhou(after the death of the first wife). Met and seduced by Ximens son-in-law (Chan) again After her husbands death, she was with always with Chan and eventually exhausted to death(at the age of 29).

22. Analysis of the Jin Ping Mei In this novel, we also see the increased importance attributed to the life of ordinary people as examples of the process of retribution. But these ordinary characters are important not so much for their unique individuality as for their aptness in embodying certain types.

23. Analysis of the Jin Ping Mei Accordingly, the author is not interested in describing individual psychological processes as such, but in questioning how it came about that certain persons, under certain circumstances in a morally unambiguous world, allowed themselves to be enticed into doing evil. Sex being one of the most obvious of human inclinations, the author gives much attention to failings and misdeeds in this area, and there are a number of very explicit erotic passages, such as detailed description of sexual intercourse and sex-postures.

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