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Ties That Bind in the Chinese Novel

← Yellow Wallpaper

Introduction

Three Kingdoms is a piece of Chinese literature written by Luo Guanzhong (Guanzhong 7). The novel incorporates an interaction among proactive characters as they reveal the events that happened after the demise of the Han Dynasty (Guanzhong 8). During this period, emperors lost their control over kingdoms, which resulted in the fall of the empire dynasty. This prompted the Han Dynasty to break into three kingdoms that included the Shu Han Kingdom that was ruled by Liu Bei, the North Kingdom under control of Cao Cao, and the Wu Kingdom managed by Sun Quan.

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The novel describes the events during the Three KingdomВ’s era between 200 and 250 AD (Guanzhong 9). It should be emphasized that the interactions among the rulers of these kingdoms are particularly important in this literary work. These leaders sought might by competing against each other in a war. At the beginning of the novel, the North Kingdom led by Cao Cao was the mightiest of the three kingdoms. This fact made Liu Bei feel uneasy about his attempt to make the Shu Han Kingdom more powerful. Not surprisingly, Sun Quan was unsettled too due to the fact that the Wu Kingdom became the weakest of the three kingdoms. In essence, it was vulnerable to attacks by both the North and the Shu Han Kingdom (Guanzhong 31). Liu Bei and Shan Quan similarly sought to change the status quo as their kingdoms were weaker than Cao Cao's North Kingdom. This desire prompted them to cooperate against Cao Cao in the Battle of the Cliffs. In general, their pact made them stronger and helped them to defeat their opponent in the battle. Shortly afterwards, the Shu Han Kingdom became the most powerful, while the Wu Kingdom was no longer the weakest, which signified a victory for Liu Bei and Sun Quan В– a victory they would not have gained unless they had chosen to unite their powers together in the battle. This paper seeks to reveal the quality of the intimate friendship established by Liu Bei and Shan Quan in the novel by means of exploring their unique characters and how the differences in their characters affected their partnership in the long-term.

Comparing the characters of Liu Bei and Sun Quan in the novel

In the work under discussion, Guanzhong unites Liu Bei from the Shu Han Kingdom and Sun Quan from the Wu Kingdom.The novel depicts these two as allies who conjoin their forces to defeat Cao Cao in the Battle of the Cliffs. Through their victory, the Shu Han Kingdom will become the mightiest of the three kingdoms, while the Wu Kingdom stops being termed as the weakest. This signifies a win-win situation for these two influential leaders mentioned above for the fact that otherwise they would never be able to achieve success in the conflict with Cao Cao.

Close liaison between Liu Bei and Sun Quan highlights their similarity in their characters. This is due to the fact that these two leaders had an identical desire to see their kingdoms prosper in the novel. Both rulers strived to bring more power, influence, and prosperity to their dominions. Liu BeiВ’s long-term ambition was to defeat Cao Cao in the battle with the purpose of making the Shu Han Kingdom the mightiest of the three kingdoms (Guanzhong 18). Sun Quan on his part was well aware of the fact that the Wu Kingdom was inferior compared to other territories (Guanzhong 22). Essentially, it was subject to the attacks from both the North Kingdom and the Shu Han Kingdom. That is why Shan Quan's aim was to consolidate power in his kingdom by winning the battle. In their quest for might, Liu Bei and Shan Quan opted to cooperate against Cao Cao in the Battle of the Cliffs, which proved to be a quite viable plan (Guanzhong 39).

A contrast in the character of Liu Bei and Sun Quan

The main dissimilarity between the character of Liu Bei and Sun Quan lies in the way in which the two handle their friendship. Liu Bei is a sworn enemy of Cao Cao. This is mainly caused by a reason that the North Kingdom is the strongest among the kingdoms. For this reason, as already mentioned, Liu Bei approaches Sun Quan В– the ruler of the Wu Kingdom and proposes an alliance between them with the purpose of defeating Cao Cao in the battle (Guanzhong 32). In his approach, Liu Bei is predominantly driven by the fact that the Wu Kingdom was the least powerful among the kingdoms. Under these conditions, it would be beneficial for Sun Quan to partner with him in the battle against their powerful rival (Hsia 51). Nevertheless, this partnership would benefit them both as Liu Bei would be able to attain might and Sun Quan's Kingdom would avoid being the weakest of the three kingdoms. Liu BeiВ’s approach indicates a sensible solution that would benefit both parties, and hence, Sun Quan regarded his ally as a loyal friend.

Liu BeiВ’s character of loyalty dramatically contrasts with Sun Quan's character. This is due to the fact that the novel depicts Sun Quan as a leader whose ambition is rooted in greed. In the novel, Sun Quan's Wu Kingdom is depicted as the territory with minor influence (Besio and Tung 13). This fact motivates Sun Quan to promptly accept Liu BeiВ’s suggestion to form an alliance in order to defeat Cao Cao whose influence was the strongest at that time. However, having gained victory against him, Sun Quan plots to kill Liu Bei in a bid to make the Wu Kingdom the mightiest of the three kingdoms. This act portrays Sun Quan as a deceitful friend who only pursues his personal interests and thinks of victory for his own kingdom.

The association of Liu Bei and Sun Quan

The association between Liu Bei and Sun Quan changes dramatically over the course of the novel. This change can be attributed to Sun Quan's betrayal. After their victory over Cao Cao, Sun Quan's ambitions drive him to plot to kill Liu Bei through trickery. When Liu Bei and Sun Quan win in the battle, Sun Quan plots to kill Liu Bei in order to attain overall victory and prosperity for his kingdom. He tricks Liu Bei into visiting his kingdom by promising to let him marry his sister. However, Liu Bei's life is spared by Sun Quan's mother Lady Wu who determines that Liu Bei is a good person and hence should not be murdered (Guanzhong 43). This dishonest act puts a strain on their relationship bringing an end to their alliance. To find a sensible solution to the problem, Sun Quan decides to seek another ally. Consequently, he decides to form an alliance with Cao Pi В– the son of Cao Cao and together, they attempt to defeat Liu Bei in the battle and conquer his kingdom. These fights eventually resulted in a long-term conflict between Liu Bei and Sun Quan. As a result, their kingdoms continued to fight for power until the death of Liu Bei.

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Lessons learned from the treaty between Liu Bei and Sun Quan

The main lessons readers can learn from the cooperation between Liu Bei and Sun Quan consists in the power of alliances. This is due to the fact that in the novel, these rulers were able to win the battle when they united their forces against Cao Cao. As a consequence, their kingdoms became politically stronger. If they had not cooperated, the Shu Han kingdom would not have been able to defeat Cao Cao's North Kingdom, as Sun Quan's Wu Kingdom would have remained the weakest and the most vulnerable of the three kingdoms.

Conclusion

Three Kingdoms is a piece of Chinese Literature that provides the readers with a detailed description of the interaction between the leaders of the Shu Han, the Wu and the North Kingdom in their quest for might during the Three Kingdoms era. The treaty between Liu Bei from the Shu Han Kingdom and Sun Quan from the Wu Kingdom is herein a matter of the utmost importance. These rulers form a strong alliance aimed at attaining victory against Cao Cao in the Battle of the Cliffs. This was prompted by the fact that a victory for them would have ensured great might for their kingdoms. Most importantly, Liu Bei and Sun Quan managed to find a consensus and fight together against Cao Cao in the Battle of the Cliffs. This union enabled them to win Cao Cao from the North Kingdom, which hence resulted in immense power for the two other kingdoms. Unfortunately, their relationship deteriorated closer to the end of the novel when Sun Quan attempted to kill Liu Bei through trickery. Sun Quan's dishonesty fueled controversies and conflicts between the two, so eventually they became deadly enemies. Finally, their kingdoms began to fight against each other in the search of power, which continued up until the Liu Bei's demise. Thus, the novel reveals that these two rulers never actually recovered their lost friendship.

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