Guan Yu's death a planned excuse for Liu Bei to attack Wu?

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Unread postby LiuBeiwasGreat » Mon Feb 05, 2007 3:17 pm

Sun Gongli wrote:
LiuBeiwasGreat wrote:i really couldn't have put it any better myself, i am quite impressed :)


Just because modern interpretation is unfairly and utterly lopsided in favor of Liu Bei doesn't mean he doesn't deserve a great deal of credit for being a benevolent and capable ruler. He wouldn't have gotten to his position if he didn't display a great deal of skill and fair-mindedness. I feel that, in the rush to embrace history, people are judging Liu Bei a bit too harshly.

Not Guan Yu though. :twisted:

I just think that, too often, once we learn that a conception we have of a person is somewhat mistaken, we make the wrong assumption and assume the exact opposite.

Plain and simple: Liu Bei did not take the loss of human life lightly. Especially his officers. For the vast majority of the time, he followed a path of righteousness, albeit not absolute righteousness. He can hardly be blamed for most of his actions. (We can say the same of many others of the era, of course.)


You make a good point. Thoguh i do think that it unfortunatly happens to Guan Yu though. (yes i noticed your tiny not guan yu :lol: )
Many officers aren't exactly like they were in the book and people tend to hate them for it.
Good to see someone standing up for Liu Bei, too few people who aren't going by the novel actually accept that he was a talented individual, and even fewer wuists heh heh
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Re: Guan Yu's death a planned excuse for Liu Bei to attack Wu?

Unread postby mengxiangsheng » Fri Mar 20, 2009 9:35 pm

This is the part of the story that really bothers me. The plot builds as these increasingly capable warriors, virtuous leaders and infallible advisors join together to save the Han Dynasty, and by the time Liu Bei is made emperor, you can't imagine how they could possibly fail. At the same time, we know the Han does not get restored, and so they must fail. Up until now, it seems that Liu Bei & Kongming are perfectly aware of how they must proceed-- make alliances with Wu and attack Wei.

So how is it that when Guan Yu dies, Liu Bei apparently loses his mind and destroys it all by attacking Wu? It seems the best answer that the author can come up with is that for Liu Bei, loyalty to one's brothers overrides even one's loyalty to the dynastic cause or love of country. It is as if, after all, Liu Bei was no more than a traditional bandit as in Shuihu Zhuan.

I don't believe this was really the case. I think the author created a problem for himself that he couldn't resolve with the historical reality. His problem was the character of Kongming. By the time of Guan Yu's death, Kongming has been developed into a super-human. He seems to be invincible in war, capable of forseeing the future and even controlling the elements. Since he was so infallible, he necessarily saw things as clearly as we do, which is that Wei poses the real threat and opportunity for conquest.

Once we assume Kongming knew this, then Liu Bei's attack on Wu appears to be criminally insane.

To make more sense of this turn in the story, I think the best thing to do is NOT assume that Kongming always knew best. Certainly the historical figure made his share of mistakes. So assume that at the time, Kongming wasn't quite sure what to do next, and considered that an attack on Wu might have made as much sense as an attack on Wei. Then Jingzhou was taken, Guan Yu killed, and Shu given a cause for war. My guess is that the historical Kongming went along with this attack on Wu more than the fictional character represents.

With perfect hindsight, we could look on the decision to attack Wu as disastrous, and the fictional Kongming had to know that it would fail, but from the point of view of the historical characters, & the REAL Kongming, the attack on Wu may have appeared their very best option.

That, at least is my best guess!
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Re: Guan Yu's death a planned excuse for Liu Bei to attack Wu?

Unread postby hahaguy » Sat Mar 21, 2009 4:26 am

Liu Bei probably thought Guan Yu was capable enough to defend Jingzhou, and did not expect an invasion from Wu, seeing as all they did before was just negotiations. The officers under Guan Yu at that time was actually at least capable of doing their jobs well, they didn't screw up until Wu invaded.

Liu Bei would never sacrifice his generals (he considers them even more important than his family), so I doubt it is possible that Liu Bei would do that. I do believe that he should have sent reinforcements, seeing that he had so many generals/ officers in Yizhou, and the army in Jingzhou is rather small in comparison.
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Re: Guan Yu's death a planned excuse for Liu Bei to attack Wu?

Unread postby Dong Zhou » Sun Mar 22, 2009 4:26 pm

Since he was so infallible, he necessarily saw things as clearly as we do, which is that Wei poses the real threat and opportunity for conquest.


Hitting a well prepared large enemy state while helping your backstabber doesn't seem a good thing to me

My guess is that the historical Kongming went along with this attack on Wu more than the fictional character represents.


Judging by his somewhat whiny comment on Fa Zheng and the opposition to the Wu campaign, Liang may have been against it or he may have kept shut about any objections he had.
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Re: Guan Yu's death a planned excuse for Liu Bei to attack Wu?

Unread postby DaiSin » Tue Mar 24, 2009 8:27 pm

Just a couple of my thoughts on this discussion (sorry if they've sort of already been covered here - and im not the best at these kinds of discussions so please bear with me)

I don't think Liu Bei would have sacrificed Guan Yu for such an attack, especially with their relationship (though I know it is strongly romanticized in the novel) and also due to the fact that he probably wouldn't have had to create any excuses for attacking Wu at that point. I think that many "justifiable" wars were waged simply out of lust for the land at the time, and if Liu Bei really wanted a war with Wu I think he could have just attacked without a moral excuse anyway. Guan Yu's death and the ensuing revenge story certainly gave the war between Shu and Wu a more interesting plot, though thats for sure..

And also I think Liu Bei always truly believed in Guan Yu as being one of the greatest leaders of the time, and in this case he may have actually thought leaving the task to him would thus make things go a lot smoother. If anything I think Liu Bei might have believed in Guan Yu's infallibility a little too much for his own good, rather than thinking him a liability.

I agree that ROTK definately makes Liu Bei out to be more of a martyr than a historical representation, but I find it a little tough to fathom him using Guan Yu to make a war seem more justified. Just my two cents. :|
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Re: Guan Yu's death a planned excuse for Liu Bei to attack Wu?

Unread postby 1mandynasty » Fri Mar 27, 2009 2:41 am

interestin idea as i been thinking out an idea of sun quan was the one that assassinated sun ce in order to held over his position during sun ce's succesful period
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Re: Guan Yu's death a planned excuse for Liu Bei to attack Wu?

Unread postby xiaoxiannu » Sat Mar 28, 2009 2:42 am

I don't think that a planned excuse. Liu Bei is too over confidence if he wants to make a war with 2 powerful kingdom at same time. Beside he real intention I sure is first destroying Wei with Wu's help.
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Re: Guan Yu's death a planned excuse for Liu Bei to attack Wu?

Unread postby Lonely_dragon » Wed Apr 01, 2009 6:47 am

I don't think Liu Bei planned for Guan Yu's death at Jing. Guan Yu was assigned to guard Jing because Liu Bei thought that Guan Yu is surely capable that is unfortunately Liu Bei was wrong... :cry:

Besides ever since the first Liu Bei was known for his love and care towards his subordinate so I think to planned the death of one of his most trusted officer is surely not Liu Bei's attitude...
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Re: Guan Yu's death a planned excuse for Liu Bei to attack Wu?

Unread postby Sima Hui » Sun Apr 12, 2009 11:27 am

An interesting theory, but I'm pretty sure that even historically, Liu was concentrating more on defeating Wei than Wu. Plus, sacrificing a prominent general and an entire province for the sake of a casus belli against Wu seems suicidal and completely insane. Besides, as others have said, Liu Bei and Guan Yu were very close historically as well as fictionally.
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Re: Guan Yu's death a planned excuse for Liu Bei to attack Wu?

Unread postby LiuBeiwasGreat » Sun Apr 19, 2009 7:35 pm

I think that Liu Bei and Guan Yu were a bit TOO focused on Wei. They seemingly felt that Wu wouldn't dare risk infighting as long as Wei was stronger then both combined. With Liu Bei's victory at Han Zhong perhaps Liu Bei and Guan Yu both felt that Wu would hop on the momentum train and move against Wei alongside them. After all stopping Liu Bei's momentum would hurt the chances to stop Wei. Therefore a degree of arrogance probably was felt, they could ignore Wu and fully concentrate on Wei and not worry. With Lu Meng's apparent sickness and his removal from power Liu Bei and Guan Yu would most likely believe that Wu would go on no major campaign until Lu Xun could establish himself as the dominate figure. As we saw in a few previous Wu battles when a less established officer tries to command the veterans there tends to be some dissension so it was likely that it was believed that Sun Quan wouldn't risk sending a non famous general like Lu Xun to command the other famous officers who might complain.
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