LOVE OF MARTIAL HEROES
Love is always the first to touch readers. In addition to the legendary jianghu, there must be something beyond swordsmanship that contributes to the great popularity of Jin Yong's works. Something that arouses resonance in all readers. That is deep affection.
This can be easily discovered when reading his works carefully. Affections in his stories, be they hidden, straightforward, intensive or implicit are like a vintage wine, mellow and seductive, directly reaching readers' souls and making them smile, think or shed tears. Love is an eternal theme of the secular world, which can send one to the heaven of happiness or the hell of sufferings. All mortal beings suffer because they have love.
Hu Yizhi’s Unrequited Love
In the twenty-three years, I only said thirty-nine sentences to her. But she said fifty-five to me.
——The Deer and the Cauldron
Hu Yizhi is a character in Jin Yong's
The Deer and the Cauldron and is the most foolishly passionate in Jin Yong's books.
Hu Yizhi's first appearance is in a fight in the Liujiang River. He has grey hair, a thin beard, and a dark face full of wrinkles like a peasant, despite his extraordinary kung fu. Surprisingly, he used to be known as the “Most Handsome Man” in the jianghu.
A casual look at Chen Yuanyuan more than twenty years ago enraptured him. After that he retreated from his previous life and worked as a gardener in Duke Pingxi's Mansion, or a mess cook in a nunnery, just for a mere chance to get a glimpse of her.
“In the twenty-three years, I only said thirty-nine sentences to her. But she said fiftyfive to me.” Hu Yizhi even remembers clearly how many sentences they talked with each other, revealing his infatuation with Chen. He happily works as a servant, and all he wants in the next twenty-three years is to see her or have a word with her. Moreover, he swore he would only love Chen and he would never violate her by even touching her gown with a single finger.
Hu tells the novel's main character Wei Xiaobao that he should be glad to sacrifice himself for the woman he loves. “She may dream of you in the night and occasionally
think of in daylight,” he says. “Isn't that better than that she never has you in her heart?”
For Hu Yizhi, love means sacrifice and dedication without requesting anything in return, a pursuit of peace of mind.
Cheng Lingsu’s Sacrificial Love
My mentor told me intoxication of these three strong poisons is cureless, because he did not believe there is a doctor who could save a patient at the expense of her own life. ——The Young Flying Fox
Cheng Lingsu is an extraordinary character in The Young Flying Fox who is proficient in poisons, clever and kindhearted. Except for not having a striking face, she is perfect. In the novel, Cheng falls in love with Hu Fei. However, she finds out that he is in love with someone else, so her love is hopeless.
Her love for Hu Fei goes beyond the feelings between lovers. She hides her deep affection for Hu throughout a long journey, suffers from unrequited love, and finally dies for him.
“My mentor told me intoxication of these three strong poisons is cureless, because he did not believe there is a doctor who could save a patient at the expense of her own life,” says Cheng. “Brother, he did not know ... I could do this for you...” This is most glorious but the most painful love.
Huang Yaoshi’s Yearning
Since my wife passed away, I have regarded all beauties of the world as nothing. ——The Legend of Condor Heroes
Jin Yong created many heroes, but Huang Yaoshi is exceptional. He is renowned for his matchless kung fu and faithful love to his wife. He devoted all his love to Feng Heng, a clever woman.
In her first appearance, Feng Heng tricks Zhou Botong in order to get a copy of the Arts of the Nine Negations ( Jiu Yin Zhen Jing) for her husband. She writes the obscure content word by word from her memory after reading the book only once. Two years later the copy is stolen by Chen Xuanfeng and Mei Chaofeng, disciples of Huang Yaoshi. In order to pacify her husband, she writes the book again despite her pregnancy. This exhausts her and she finally dies in childbirth.
Huang Yaoshi is torn by the sadness of his wife's death and the happiness of his daughter's birth.
Huang builds a palace-like tomb in the Peach Blossom Island ( Taohua Island) which houses all his valuable collections and a portrait he drew for his wife. He inscribes her tombstone “Tomb of Feng, Hostess of Peach Blossom Island,” which reveals neither the surname of her husband nor her maiden name. After her death, Huang Yaoshi cuts off all his desire for any woman in the world. He swears to stay with his wife for the rest of his life and never leaves the island.
Many years later, when Ouyang Feng presents him with beautiful girls to try to improve their relationship, Huang Yaoshi refuses, saying, “Since my wife passed away, I have regarded all beauties of the world as nothing.”
Brotherhood of the Three Brothers in Demi-gods and Semi-devils
Big brother, do you remember what we said when we swore brotherhood? We swore to go through thick and thin together, live or die together. Today you are in trouble, how could I leave you alone?
——Demi-gods and Semi-devils
The most impressive brotherhood in Jin Yong's works must be the one between Qiao Feng, Xu Zhu and Duan Yu. Some readers may think they were too hasty to swear brotherly loyalty, but others believe it reflects congeniality among men. One drink or conversation may allow two strangers in jianghu to become sworn brothers for the rest of their lives.
After a battle in the Apricot Forest, Qiao Feng is betrayed by his friends and becomes a common enemy of the martial arts circles. The later fight in Juxianzhuang (Heroes Gathering Manor) makes him a target that is disdained and hunted by the whole world. But his sworn brother stands firmly beside him. In Shaoshi Mountain, when Duan Yu sees all of the more than 1,000 heroes want to kill Qiao, he says loudly, “When you are in
trouble, how can I leave you alone?”
The third sworn brother, Xu Zhu, a seemingly idiotic monk, is not really stupid but sincere and honest. At Shaoshi Mountain, Qiao Feng and Duan Yu are besieged by enemies and at the point of death. The little monk stands up and asks, “Elder brother and younger brother, why don't you call me when you have a drink?” They are loyal to each other, like Dumas' Three Musketeers who are “all for one and one for all.”
Though Qiao is misunderstood by the whole world and experiences numerous sufferings, he has two loyal sworn brothers who would die for him. It is really a great fortune for him.
Mutual Appreciation between Miao Renfeng and Hu Yidao
The Golden-face Buddha suddenly sighed, “What a pity!” Hu Yidao asked, “For what?” The Golden-face Buddha replied, “If you were not surnamed Hu, or I not Miao, we must be good friends like Damon and Pythias. I have always been arrogant in the past. This time when I meet you, I am sincerely convinced. Alas, though the world is big, Miao Renfeng has no friend except Hu Yidao.”
——Fox Volant of the Snowy Mountain
Compared with the heroic brotherhood between Qiao Feng, Xuzhu and Duan Yu in Demi-gods and Semi-devils, the one between Hu Yidao and Miao Renfeng is sadly moving. They felt like old friends at the first meeting and appreciate each other highly. If not for the so-called blood feud between their families, they would be bosom friends. But unfortunately they have to wage a life-and-death struggle to satisfy the feud. During this period, Hu Yidao's wife gives birth to a baby and Miao Renfeng names the baby Hu Fei.
Later Miao Renfeng sleeps at the gate of a hotel to defend Miao and his family from assassination. Hu Yidao also goes down a mountain in the night and helps Miao Renfeng to fulfill his wish, killing Miao's enemy Shang Jianming using the Miao family's swordplay style. What they do for each other reveals their mutual respect and appreciation for each other.
They are finally forced to fight to resolve their family feud. They fight for several days and nights and over time their feelings alter. Their life-and-death struggle changes to mutual learning and consultation. They point out each other's weakness and even compete with weapons exchanged so that no one would feel ashamed no matter who was defeated. Though only getting acquainted with each other for several days, they become intimate friends. The blood feud was no longer important and they decided to settle it with one final fight. Unfortunately, a villain's secret plot ruins their plans. Hu Yidao and his wife die and Miao Renfeng lives with guilt for the rest of his life.
Fraternity among Seven Heroes of Wudang
Yu Lianzhou tried his best just now, but could not get out of the influence of her whip, scared and astonished. He cherished his younger brother, and said to himself, “I fight with her first. Even if I die by her whip, my sixth younger brother can discover something about her whip skills. There will be a higher chance of him escaping.”
——The Heavenly Sword and Dragon Saber
The Heavenly Sword and Dragon Saber has many descriptions of the brotherly love amongst the Seven Heroes of Wudang. The most touching is the section about their battle with Zhou Zhiruo. Yu Lianzhou tries his best, but cannot escape from Zhou Zhiruo's whip. So he decides to risk his own life for Yin Liting to discover something about Zhou's whipmanship. Yin also recognises the danger and knows it is nearly impossible for them to escape. Thus he has the same idea and wants to fight with Zhou first so his brother Yu can discover the gist of Zhou's martial art. Therefore, he refused to hand over his sword and said, “Brother, I‘ll go first.” Looking at Yin, Yu recalls the deep brotherly love among them in the past dozens of years and Yu Daiyan's disability, Zhang Cuishan's suicide, and Mo Shenggu's tragic death. Now only four of the Seven Heroes of Wudang are still alive, and probably two of them would die that day. Though highly skilled in martial arts, Yin has an extremely weak nature. “If I die first,” worries his sworn brother, “He must be distracted and not be able to focus on the fight any more.”
In the critical moment, the two brothers do not think about how to escape for themselves, but for the other's survival. Their mutual understanding goes beyond words and does not even need eye contact.
Deep Emotion Between Zhang Sanfeng and His Disciples
Zhang Sanfeng has lived for a hundred years, and spent more than 80 years on martial art practice. He cares little about the secular world. But he and the seven disciples are like father and son. When suddenly seeing Zhang Cuishan, he could not help but hug him closely, crying tears of happiness.
——The Heavenly Sword and Dragon Saber
There are not many good mentors in Jin Yong's novels. But their occasional appearance can really touch readers. The deep feeling between Zhang Sanfeng and the Seven Heroes of Wudang is one example.
When Zhang Cuishan returns to Wudang Mountain from Binghuo Island (Ice and Fire Island), he finds his teacher Zhang Sanfeng in seclusion for meditation.
Because of the Dragon Saber, members of the Wudang Sect are being forced to confess Xie Xun's whereabouts and live in difficulties for a decade. Although their leader Zhang Sanfeng is physically strong, and enjoyed a high personal prestige in the jianghu, he spent the 10 years in deep worry about the reputation of Wudang and the safety of Zhang Cuishan. At the moment he reunites with Zhang, all his grief and depression disappear with the wind.
To highlight the reunion, Jin Yong describes it at great length. First Yu Lianzhou goes down the mountain to meet Zhang Cuishan. Then when Zhang Cuishan has reached the top of the mountain, Zhang Sanfeng is in seclusion for meditation and so they cannot meet each other. It is not until a few days later Zhang Sanfeng goes out for his 100th birthday, that the mentor and the disciple see each other.
After a long whistle, Zhang Sanfeng sways his sleeves slightly, then the two doors open. The first sight Zhang Sanfeng catches is of nobody but Zhang Cuishan, whom he has been missing for 10 years.
He rubs his eyes and thinking he has made a mistake. Zhang Cuishan throws himself into his arms, sobbing, and calling him, “Mentor!” Zhang Cuishan is so excited that he forgets to kneel down. Song Yuanqiao and the others shout happily, “Congratulations, Mentor. Fifth brother came back.” Zhang Sanfeng has lived for a hundred years, and has spent more than 80 years on martial art practice. He cares little about the secular world. But he and the seven disciples are like father and son. Zhang Cuishan falls into his mentor's arms like a child. Zhang Sanfeng, in his venerable age, certainly has become accustomed to partings and reunions, but he is so happy that he sheds tears. The description unveils the depth of feeling between them.
Close Ties of Kinship Between Duke Ruyang and His Daughter
Minmin, will your wounds affect your strength? Do you have any money on you?
——The Heavenly Sword and Dragon Saber
Zhao Min was born in a noble family and is a princess. Her father Duke Ruyang is good at military operations, commanding hundreds of thousands of troops. However, facing his beloved willful daughter, the decisive man is no more than a garrulous father.
To save Xie Xun, Zhang Wuji has to part from his bride on his wedding day and leave with Zhao Min, who has detailed information on Xie's location. When they arrive in Henan Province, the Mongolian army finds them and Zhao's father, a general in the army, asks Zhao to return home with him. Zhao misses her father and brothers but fears her leaving might cause Zhang to be killed because he is without her help. Therefore, she refuses her father's requests and his father, a strongman, has to give up and tell her to take care of herself. Facing his resolute daughter, Duke Ruyang sheds tears and chokes, “Minmin, take care of yourself. Daddy is leaving. You must be careful.” Zhao Min nods and dares not look at him.
After walking several yards, he turns around suddenly, and asks, “Minmin, will your wounds affect your strength? Do you have money on you?” Zhao Min nods, tears in her eyes. Nobody knows when she will be able to meet her father again. After leaving him, she will live a different life as a wife, a mother, a friend, but not as a daughter. She does not know if she will be as cherished in the future as she is by her father.
Han Xiaoying’s Maternal Love
Thinking they have lived in the bitterly cold and tough land in Mobei for more than ten years, her fifth brother Zhang Asheng even died in the alien land, their lectures resulted in nothing but a fool, and that her fifth brother’s life and hard work were fruitless, Han Xiaoying was miserable and shed tears. She threw the sword to the ground and left with her face covered.
——The Legend of Condor Heroes
When talking about the characters in Jin Yong's works who had a happy childhood, Guo Jing, a leading character in The Legend of Condor Heroes, must be the one. He is one of the few characters whose mother is still alive in his childhood, and moreover he has had mentors, especially the “Seventh Mentor” Han Xiaoying, who gives him maternal love.
At the beginning of his training, Guo Jing cannot master the movements his mentors try and teach him because of his stupidity. The others lash Guo, but Han Xiaoying is not furious or does not punish him. Instead she “was anguished and shed tears. She threw the sword to the ground and left with her face covered.” That reflects the unique kindness and patience of the woman. When Guo Jing is misunderstood and about to be killed by Ke Zhen'e, Han Xiaoying stands up and saves him. She is like a warm mother who carefully defends her disciple despite his clumsiness and dullness. When Qiu Chuji asks Guo Jing to choose either Mu Nianci or Hua Zheng, Han Xiaoying discovers the disciple's worry, “Do you have a sweetheart?” The sweetheart is Huang Rong, “The Little Evil Girl” known to all the Guo's mentors. The others are shocked and angered at the news. When Han recalls her love for Zhang Asheng, she feels a little sad and has some understanding of her disciple.
For Guo Jing, Han Xiaoying is his seventh mentor and his mother figure as well, who cares about him all the time.