In my previous posts (The Code of Xia, Soul of Wuxia and Issues of Wuxia), I shortly mentioned and give a little clue about heros and characters in Wuxia litrature. Now, I try to make a brief analysis and explanations of the protagonists in these stories. Actually, this is very deep subject and deserves a book written about it (maybe there are already 0_O), but because of lack of time, I can only give an abstract (Yes , this is absract version ! ). But in advance, I must point out something; In order to understand the characters in the Far-east movies (Wuxia and etc), you must, at least a little be familiar to Far-Eastern philosophy, Buddhism and Confuciusm etc… Because, although there are some far-east fashion in lately, Far-East mostly and always be introvert in its inside; and they mostly produce their product (and so art and litrature) with a refined way in their inner world. And this cause that, they present a very different, exotic but also somehow familiar options against to Western’s monopolist and over uniform capitalist-pragmatic philosophy and art that are tryied to impose us. And Perhaps, that’s why Far-East cultures have many fans; because of these different options. Amongst these various alternative offered by the Far-East world, I’m personally interested in (and also it is the subject of this post) presenting sytle and way of the code of ethics on wuxia characters. Same and similar as Kant, I believe there are some universal rules of ethics and morality in essence. And because Far-East people are relativly in close inside, they can reflect these more refined and also aesthetic way, I think.
It can be felt in the introduction paragraph in above, one of the most prominent features of Wuxia heros and characters is they live these ethics, morality and sentiments very refined, naive and sometimes over exaggeratedly. Perhaps because of this “extreme” kind of refined, most or some Wuxia films seem meaningless, unrealistic and absurd with silly characters. In fact, one of the reasons behind the exaggerated behaviors of these characters is the overstatement style of universal art. In the Art, everything (especially the focal object) is tend to presented exaggeratedly to attract audience’s attention well. But unfortunatly, everyones’s taste and way of exaggerate is very differently, and it may hard to catch some unviersal acclaim; and that’s why same arts (movies, music types … etc) may have some fanatics and haters, at the same time. Same as, Wuxia movies and characters are also fit this case, and their some exaggerated behaviors, attract attention to certain case, may either hit the target perfectly or cause a rebound, according to audience background and mode. I mean, these exaggerated refined acts in wuxia genre have many varieties and styles for everyone.
As for the heroes’ code of ethics; this is actually very important and profound subject. As I mentioned all the time, Wuxia genre tells us the stories of the “heroic warriors”, and excluding fighting abilities, there are some fine details about morality that makes them real hero. First of all, our hero is forthright, righteous and flow the universal moral codes. Because he relies on his own fighting skills and mental accumulation, he can fight his rivals without need for scrapping fraud and tricks; which can be tricky weapons, lies, poisons and etc. The detail and the underlying message in here is that, only the insufficient one uses the trick and fraud because he is lack of real power and skills. But the one, who is really powerful and skilled, can capable do anything without use tricks and frauds. As it may seen in Wuxia stories (and may also other stories in world litrature), the ones, who use frauds and tricky weapons, are mostly evil ones, who are actually weak relative to real hero, in fair and equal conditions.
Yet, in fact, in some special cases, good ones and heros may use fraud and fraudulent weapons, too. But they only use them to ensure a balance; such as cope with the large number of enemies or extremely powerful opponent. But it’s definitely and absolutely that, the real hero never uses such these methods to take advantage against over a powerless or equal opponents; even they find this degrading. For example, when two hero duel, if one has advantageous to another (because of a quirk of fate, another tired or injured), then advantaged hero either injures himself or delays the duel to another suitable date to fight his rival in fair. He definitely doesn’t take advantage on his weak opponent, and he never uses other type of fraudulent method in his life. In short, Wuxia heroes have the things, which Western World calls spirit of chivalry, to the utmost.
Yes, the spirit of chivalry is the backbone of wuxia genre and characters. Almost every ideal wuxia hero has prudence, temperance, justice and fortitude, humility, compassion, courtesy, devotion, mercy, purity, peace and endurance; and he can apply these in practice very well. Although some wuxia heros may not have all these features (or even none of them), they would probably learn these virtues after their adventures. Also, no matter what, the main common point of heros is that they can throw themself into a deadly war just for the sake of universal and divine justice, even they have no material profit, so. Although some wuxia characters don’t do anything without some material profit, the real hero can do any fair and rightful favor without expecting or waiting wordly return. Furthermore, they never seek and desire power and the triumph, which obtained by crushing weak and oppressed; this is just not right and also not honorable. So for this reason, even they can easily obtaine some flashy and ostentatious titles and glory, they simply refuse. And they keep to live in their living style they know right.
There is also another purity and joy (so passion) in the heros’s love styles. If the hero is really in love, he or she starts to to fight to the death putting away all other important (even vital) issues. In the most of the Wuxia stories, heros can ingnore some major worldly or political issues for the sake of their love. Or in some cases, he may gives up his love for the sake of his love (!), and he may live a platonic relationship with isolating himself. Regardless, heros can be seen quite foolish in love cases for an outsider. But of cource, there are also some inferences in these behaviors. First of all, another feature that makes our heros real hero is to being so sentimental in everything (from love to war) and so they do every work in a heroic-epic passion. This passion, which exists in hero’s yeast abundantly, can sublimate the hero gloriously, but it may also cause his disaster, as a side effect. Also, this high doses passion in the hero’s blood makes him or her very chaotic and unpredictable; and frankly, what makes them so attractive is these unusual and bizarre unpredictable behaviours. So that’s why all they are weird so, while in live !
The other issue is that Heros’ style of loyalty to the group they relate. Although the most of the wuxia heros are like a lone wolf, some of them may relate or bound up with a particular clan, school or army. It actually depends to story and show diversity, but generally, they don’t show a blind loyalty to their groups. Because, in fact, their real loyalty is to universal divine justice and morality; and if they see and realise the group they relate is degenerated and corrupt, then they leave the band or even they may fight to against them. So their ways of loyalty within the group is like in this motto; “righteousness is superior than loyalty”. If there is no righteousness, so no loyalty.
There is also a controversial revenge issue. Some of the heros want to settle the score killing all evil ones, no matter what. But some of them in Buddhist ideal assert that grudge and feeling of vengeance only brings harm, and forgiveness to mistakes in the past is the greatest wisdom. According to them, the Past is already in the past, and vengeance can not bring back the loses in past, it only provides some ill satisfaction. Therefore, the most virtuous way is to learn lessons from past mistakes and to ensure to not repeat them again. For this reason, some heros in wuxia stories don’t fight for revenge of past; but they can actually fight against to evils to prevent some future harm, which can be caused by their insatiable ambitions. But in another aspect, the ideal wuxia hero don’t think either past or future; he only lives in now and gets layout according to the situation.
Lastly, I would like to mention the appearance and charm of heroes. Because some ideal universal moral codes are tryied to approach in wuxia stories on heros, so outward appearance of heros is in certain ideal frames. Such as, characters are defined relativly beatiful and handsome in most of wuxia stories, and so, gererally beatiful and handsome cast play in wuxia movies. In the same way in hero’s character, Hero’s physical appearance and stance must also be ideal and affect people. It is actually emphasis that Heros’ inner and outer sides are same, or their inner beauty reflect to the outward. It means that, heros are really honest with either being as they seems, or seeming as they are; so they don’t deceive using a fake appearance. Also, even not being so handsome or beautiful in classical sense, the heros can impress everyone just with their stature and stance. In short, there must be an extraordinary impressive hero stance; the hero can spell the people even with a very little appearance, and his look of face can tell lots of things without talking; and finally the intersection of the ideal body and the ideal soul can be cherish very efficaciously. And in wuxia stories, these are tried to give together ideally.
Here is my very general (and unfortunately superficial) hero analysis. Of course, these just defines a very general template. And this template can be deformed and show diversity in the story to story. But as a result, as I mentioned at the beginning, if you are familiar with some far-eastern philosophy, or you could grasp the essence of universal divine moral and ethical codes by yourself, you can easily understand these stories and characters. Also for more personal review by me about Wuxia Genre, please see … ^ _ ^