The Beauty, the Beast and the Red Hare. The 'Chain Scheme' in Chinese Literature and Cinematography. Part 1


China “Three Kingdoms” “The Chain Scheme” Literary and Cinematographic Image Lü Bu Diao Chan Dong Zhuo Wang Yun Yuan Drama Tang Poetry Chinese Historical Chronicles Body Bodily Visualization

How to Cite

Sarakaeva, E. (2022). The Beauty, the Beast and the Red Hare. The ’Chain Scheme’ in Chinese Literature and Cinematography. Part 1. Corpus Mundi, 3(2), 52-80.


The Chinese historical chronicle “The Annals of the Three kingdoms” relates the last years of Han dynasty before the country fell into chaos. According to the Chronicle, a frontier general Dong Zhuo marched with his troops to the capital and took control over the boy emperor. He wanted to get rid of his rival general Ding Yuan, so he bribed his officers with gifts and promises. A young junior officer Lü Bu killed general Ding and presented his head to Dong Zhuo. The daring and unscrupulous officer enjoyed the favours of the usurper, he became his adopted son and was placed at the head of cavalry. To his misfortune, Dong Zhuo’s uncontrolled temper threatened the very life of his closest henchmen. Besides, Lü Bu’s regiments didn’t enjoy benefits they expected and that annoyed the soldiers and their new commander. Finally, Lü Bu started a secret affair with a court lady and was afraid to be exposed. So, when minister Wang Yun asked him to kill the tyrant, Lü Bu agreed. Following Wan Yun’s plan, he killed Dong Zhuo with his own hands. This story was masterfully re-worked in Luo Guangzhong’s great epic “The Three Kingdoms”. The writer dramatized the plot and turned the nameless court lady into a renowned beauty Diao Chan who plays the key role in the conspiracy. According to the novel, Diao Chan seduced Lü Bu and later married Dong Zhuo to set the tyrant and his powerful bodyguard against each other. This scheme was called “The Chain Scheme”, for the idea was to break the chain between the male characters with the help of female charms. The Chain Scheme is the most stylistically strong and textually rich episode; in the course of Chinese history it served as a plot to masterful works of fiction and in 20th-21st centuries got numerous TV adaptations. In the present paper I analyse artistic devices and narrative tropes in literature versions of Chain Scheme plot, paying attention to the visual images of the characters, especially their bodily representations as well as the psychological interpretations of their actions. In the Part II of the work I hope to do the same for the screen versions of the Chain Scheme story.


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