Mencian Reincarnations: Mercy and Forgiveness in the Seventeenth-Century Chinese Novel Predestined Marriage that Awakens the World

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

Abstract

Existing scholarship rarely examines the theme of mercy and forgiveness in the seventeenth-century novel Xingshi yinyuan zhuan (Predestined Marriage that Awakens the World) which is known for its recurrent narratives of karmic retribution and vengeance. This paper will focus on this much understudied but elementary theme of mercy and forgiveness in the novel in four aspects. First, it analyzes the concepts of the compassionate heart and innate conscience in Mencius and their currency in the Predestined Marriage. Second, it discusses the practice of mercy and forgiveness in various case scenarios in the novel. Third, it investigates the reincarnations of the protagonist Chao Yuan and a minor character Chao Liang as the narrative’s representation of forgiveness and mercy. Finally, it discusses Di Xichen’s (Chao Yuan’s reincarnation) acts of self-discipline in dealing with his abusive wife as the practice of forgiveness to dissolve his karmic debt. Overall, the paper argues that based upon Mencian ethics, Predestined Marriage blends mercy and forgiveness with Buddhist reincarnation and rituals to portray a compelling intellectual landscape of the seventeenth century.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Chinese Literature and Culture
Volume11
Issue number2
Publication statusAccepted/In press - Nov 2024

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