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Injustice to Dou E


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AT: Snow in Midsummer; The Injustice Done to Tou O; Tou O Was Wronged A: Guan Hanqing Pf: 13th c., China Tr: 1958 G: Zaju play in 4 acts; prose and song S: The town of Chuchow in China during the Yuan dynasty, 13th c. C: 8m, 2f, extras.A poor scholar, Dou Tien-Chang, owes money to Mrs Tsai, a widow. In order to settle his debt, he gives his only daughter, later named Dou E (Tou E, Tou Ngo), to marry Mrs Tsai's son. The son dies shortly after the wedding, so Dou E, at the age of 20, is also widowed. Angered that Dou E rejects his advances, Donkey Chang plots to kill Mrs Tsai. By mistake, however, he poisons his own father and then accuses Dou E of the murder. Although she refuses to confess when she is beaten, Dou E falsely admits to the crime when Mrs Tsai is threatened with a beating. As Dou E is led to her execution, she prophesies that there will be snow in midsummer at the outrage of her death. She is beheaded, and snow falls. At last her father returns, now a high official. Prompted by the ghost of his daughter, he reviews the case, uncovers the injustice, and orders the execution of Donkey and the beating of the Court Prefect.

AT: Snow in Midsummer; The Injustice Done to Tou O; Tou O Was Wronged A: Guan Hanqing Pf: 13th c., China Tr: 1958 G: Zaju play in 4 acts; prose and song S: The town of Chuchow in China during the Yuan dynasty, 13th c. C: 8m, 2f, extras.

This is probably the best-known example of the zaju style of drama (‘variety drama’), popular in the second half of the 13th century and for most of the 14th in China, and Guan Hanqing was its greatest exponent. Zaju plays usually tell a simple story, containing quite a degree of repetition, and so seem quite childlike to Western readers. One of the main features is the use of songs, sung by a single singer irrespective of the character, which comment poetically on the action. Injustice to Dou E is one of the popular courtroom dramas (cf. The Chalk Circle) which reflect the injustice of Mongolian rule during the Yuan dynasty.

Subjects: Literary Studies (Plays and Playwrights).


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