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The Popular Theme of Ungrateful Love Story in the Sung, Yuan and Ming Dynasties--Discussion on "The Romance of the Lute" Modified by Kao Ming
Ungrateful love story was a popular theme in the Southern school of Chinese drama. And most of these works were created in the Sung Dynasty. However, it was a reflection on social environment. In the Sung Dynasty, literators had great opportunity to upgrade to higher society by means of official examinations. When a literate advanced to official rank, he might abandon his wife whom he married in poverty. Such a tragedy happened from time to time and then became the creative material in local drama. The ungrateful man was often condemned for his irresponsibility and held in contempt by the public. Typically, in local drama, such a character was deserved for retribution. However, in the Yuan Dynasty, literators were degraded to the most humble class by aliens. There was no avenue for them to develop their official careers. Therefore, local drama had sought for other materials. In the Ming Dynasty, literitors tried to change the negative image of literate as an ungrateful character in local drama. Some of the authors had modified the plays. "The Romance of the Lute" was one of the masterpieces authored by Kao Ming. In this paper, I will discuss the background and its transformation of these dramas in five sections. I. The theme of ungrateful love stories in the southern school of Chinese local drama. II. The background III. The transformation IV. Reflection on the happy ending of "The romance of the Lute" I explore the social background, the political evolution, the folk custom, and the position of literators in the Sung, Yuan and Ming Dynasties. Based on the above information, I discuss the themes of plays in different periods, and the popularity of ungrateful love stories in local drama.
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