Monkey King Legends

Monkey History
By: Hannah, Daniel, Katie, Matt &
Title: Monkey
Author: Wu Ch’eng-en
Date of Publication: 1500-1582
Genre: folk novel
Historical information about period of
Monkey was based on the real life of a monk named Hsuan
Tsang who lived in the late Sui Dynasty and early Tang Dynasty in
Chang’an. Tsang left Chang’an in 629 and traveled to India to get
scriptures because the Chinese versions were poorly translated.
He was able to obtain the scriptures and transport them to China
were he established an institute dedicated to translating the
scriptures to Chinese.
In the 16th century the book Monkey was published
anonymously probably because it was written the vulgar
language instead of Classical Chinese. The popular type of
Writing during this time was Classical Chinese and not the
language of the common people. Wu Ch’eng- en probably
published Monkey anonymously so that it wouldn’t ruin his
Biographical information about the author:
Wu Ch’eng-en was a novelist and poet of the Ming
Dynasty (1368–1644). He is generally acknowledged
for the Chinese folk novel Xiyouji (Journey to the
West, or Monkey).
Wu received a traditional Confucian education and
became known for his cleverness in the
composition of poetry and prose in the classical
style. Throughout his life he displayed an interest in
bizarre stories, such as the oral and written folktales
that formed the basis of Monkey.
Characteristics of the genre:
Folk novels usually include a journey that leads
the main character to “self-discovery.” Conflicts
are usually quickly established and the endings
usually end happily. The setting of folk novels
remove the story from the real world and take
the readers to supernatural times were animals
can talk and magical creatures exist. The setting
of folk novels may also reflect the typical
landscape of its culture.
Plot summary:
The story begins with the story of Monkey. He was born from rock on the Flower and
Fruit Mountain and lived with the monkeys living there. One day while he was following
a stream, monkey discovered a waterfall. All the monkeys agreed that the monkey that
was brave enough to jump through the waterfall should be the king. The stone monkey
went through the water fall and discovered the “Water Curtain Cave” behind the
waterfall. The monkeys made him their king and lived happily in the cave, until the
Monkey King left on a raft to search for immortality. He floated across the sea until he
came to the Southern Continent. After eight or nine years he crossed another ocean
arriving at the western Continent where he finally found a patriarch that taught him the
way to immortality and 72 transformations. He acquired the name ‘Aware of Vacuity”
from the Patriarch. Unfortunately he was forced to leave the school when he showed of
his transformations by becoming a pine tree. Since Monkey had no where else to go, he
returned to the Flower and Fruit mountain just to find his monkeys under the control of
a demon. He easily defeated the demon using his newly acquired skills, but after the
battle, he discovered that he was in need of a decent weapon. He decided to visit the
dragon king and was able to obtain an iron cudgel by force. He then armed his monkeys
with weapons and trained them
They were respected by all the beasts living on the mountain, and everything seemed to
be fine until Monkey managed to cause trouble in hell by crossing his name and the
names of the monkeys in the records. Because of how he was treated by Monkey, the
Dragon King went to Heaven and complained against him, so the Jade emperor offered
him a position in heaven so that he would stay out of trouble. Hi job was cleaning out
the stables, but once he found out how low he was ranked he rebelled and left his post.
The Jade Emperor ordered troops to capture him, but they didn’t compare with
monkey’s powers. The Jade Emperor had no other choice than to allow him the title of
Great Sage Equal to Heaven.
Monkey was put in charge of the Peach Orchid, but he ate all the ripe peaches of
immortality. He also ruined the Peach Banquet by arriving before everyone, drinking the
wine and eating the food. After that he visited Lao Tzu’s home and drank his elixir and
took the Pills of Immortality. Knowing that he would be in big trouble monkey hurried
home to the Fruit and Flower Mountain. When the Jade Emperor found out about what
Monkey had done he ordered more powerful troops to capture Monkey. He was finally
captured and taken to heaven. Because no weapon could hurt monkey, he was given to
Loa Tzu who put him in a furnace for 49 days. Surprisingly enough, Monkey survived and
was even stronger than before. In the end only Buddha was able to control him
underneath his palm. Monkey was crushed under a mountain and trapped for 500
Next we are introduced to Kuan Yin. She was sent by Buddha to find a priest to
fetch scriptures from India. On her journey she encountered a water monster, Sandy,
who was a marshal of the hosts of Heaven until hi accidentally broke a crystal dish and
was banished to Earth. Kuan Yin told him that he would be forgiven if helped the
scripture seeker and if he purified himself by never taking a life again. Next Kuan Yin
encountered Pigsy, a dragon, and Monkey. Pigsy was also a Marshal of the hosts of
Heaven, but he misbehaved with the Goddess of the Moon. So the Jade Emperor
banished him to Earth. Kuan Yin told him to do fast, penance, to watch for the scripture
seeker, and to help him on his journey to India. The dragon was the son of the Dragon
King of the western ocean. He accidentally set the palace on fire and some of the
Dragon Kings pearls burned.
For that action he was to be executed, but Kuan Yin told him that he would be
forgiven if he watched for the scripture seeker and helped him on his journey.
Monkey as we already knew had caused much trouble and was trapped under a
Mountain. Kuan Yin told him that he would be set free by a scripture seeker, but he
had to become his disciple and embrace their faith. They all agreed to help the
seeker of scriptures and waited for him.
The Priest worthy enough to retrieve the scriptures from India turned out to
be Hsuan Tsang or Tripitaka. On his journey he faced many obstacles and was nearly
eaten by ogres, but as he met his disciples, they helped him along the way. Tripitaka
was chosen because he was the best of all priests, but in times of danger he cried
and didn’t show faith in his religion even after being told that many deities were
looking after him. Monkey was the strongest and wittiest of the group, but because
he had a rebellious nature Tripitaka kept him under control through a cap that
squeezed Monkey’s head when Tripitaka recited a prayer. Pigsy was also strong but
lazy, greedy, and lustful. Sandy was hardworking and the most patient of all. The
dragon was turned into a horse after he ate Tripitaka’s horse.
Even though he was turned into a horse, the dragon did not complain and served
Tripitaka until the end. After obtaining the scriptures and after taking them to China,
Tripitaka, Monkey, Pigsy, Sandy, and the dragon horse
Went back to Paradise where the Buddha Tathagata lived. There Tripitaka was appointed
to be a Buddha and achieved the title “Buddha of Precocious Merit.”
Monkey was also promoted to be a Buddha and obtained the title “Buddha Victorious in
Strife.” Pigsy was promoted to be Cleanser of the Altar. Sandy became an Arhat and
obtained the title “Golden Bodied Arhat”, and the horse became one of the eigth senior
Heavenly Dragons.
Describe the author’s style
The author used simple, common language that is easy to understand. He
included many action scenes and mystical creatures. The story establishes a
pattern in which Tripitaka and his disciples fight off an evil character before
moving on. At the end of each chapter the author includes a sentence
telling the reader that if he or she wants to know what happens next they
should read the next chapter. The author also used some phrases over and
Examples that demonstrate style:
Monkey being an animal can talk. Pigs, sandy, and the dragons are mythical creatures.
And if you do not know how the Emperor came to life again, you must listen to the next chapter.
“Dear Monkey”
“Poor Fool”
Memorable quotations:
Tripitaka: A priest is always ready to die rather then commit acts of violence.
Monkey: fool you are not doing yourself justice
Pigsy: I don’t know what it is, I’ve been a little bit off my feed lately
Monkey: Master…each time we come to a hill before we have even begun to climb it,
you are in a panic about ogres and demons. And you are always brooding about what a
long way it is to India, and wondering if we shall ever get there…
Significance of quotations:
Tripitaka: One has no right to kill robbers, however violent, and wicked they may be
the most one may do is to bring them before a magistrate. It would have been quite
enough in this case if you had driven them away. Why kill them?
Tripitaka: Now Monkey, priests must always be careful to tell the truth
Tripitaka:I used to wear them(cap&coat) when I was young
Monkey: you have no reason to get into such a state about it. These scriptures are
now just as intact as they were intended to be. Heaven and Earth themselves are not
more complete. The part that was broken off contained a secret refinement of
doctrine that was not meant for transmission, and no care on your part could…..
Role in story
Priest on journey to
fetch scriptures from
Disciple of Tripitaka
that defends him along
the way
Disciple of Tripitaka
Disciple of Tripitaka
Lao Tzu
He was chosen because of his
pureness and faith, but throughout
the journey he showed that he
actually had room to grow as a
Monkey symbolizes intelligence
and power, but is missing wisdom
and maturity. He is kept under
control by Buddha and then by
Tripitaka(cap &spell)
He eats and marries after he is told
to fast and do penance
Formal marshal of heaven
Fearful, easily
strong, show off,
Greedy for
Physical pleasures
like sleep and
He retains some of his magical
powers from when he worked in
Sandy is Patient
and is able to
Founder of Taoism
He achieved physical immortality,
and the “Pills of immortality” and
elixir of life were made by Lao Tzu
Smart, wise,
Kuan Yin
Bodhisattva who helps
Tripitaka along his
She helps Tripitaka in times of
need, but it also seems that she is
the one that sends him difficulties
or calamities to make him mature
Jade emperor
Ruler of Heaven and
Although he is the ruler, he is not
the supreme God. He is outranked
by Buddha, Lao Tzu, and Confucius.
Powerful, leader
Founder of Buddhism
He is the only person that can
control the rebellious Monkey in
the beginning.
Wise, supreme
power, respected
The setting is mostly rural places in china like farms, forests, and
famous mountains.
Significance of opening scene
The opening scene reveals to the reader the magical manner in which
Monkey was born. Here we see that he is more than ordinary since he
was a creation of both Earth and Heaven. The fact that light from his eyes
shines all the way to Heaven further emphasizes his uniqueness.
Each of the main characters could be a symbol for types of human
nature. Arthur Waley even states at the beginning of the book that
Tripitaka stands for ordinary men, living anxiously through the
difficulties of life, monkey stands for the instability of genius, Pigsy
stands for the physical appetites and strength, and Sandy is described
as wholehearted or sincere. The horse or dragon could represent the
loyal worker who does not complain.
Also Heaven closely models the Chinese government.
The five mountains and the cap show Monkey’s inferiority to Buddha
Significance of closing scene
In the closing scene all of our main characters are rewarded for their hard work
and are promoted to higher ranks. In this scene we are able to see how some of
the characters have evolved and matured while others still have room for

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