Did Zhuge Liang want to die?

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Did Zhuge Liang want to die?

Unread postby WeiWenDi » Mon May 26, 2008 9:46 pm

I have been re-reading Romance of the Three Kingdoms for my Classical Chinese class, and I got into a discussion about the tragic flaws of the major characters with my professor. We eventually got around to discussing Zhuge Liang, and what happened to cause the downfall of Shu Han. We agreed that Liu Bei was ambitious, but that he relied upon the emotional (not to mention military) support of Guan Gong and Zhang Fei to carry them out - which explains why he chose to make such a reckless attack on Sun Wu when he lost both of them to the southern kingdom. But she and I differed on our interpretations of Zhuge Liang: I had interpreted Zhuge Liang as being something of a workaholic, who ended up taking on too great a burden after Liu Bei died (which is what caused him to fall ill). My professor had a different interpretation, and I was wondering what people here think of it.

She seemed to think Zhuge Liang was an extremely proud person, almost vain, who cared a great deal about his image and how history would judge him, and that he was content to serve Liu Bei because he felt that Liu Bei was both strong-willed and ambitious enough to restore the Han Dynasty, and because he felt that if Liu Bei succeeded, he would be seen among the greatest (and most virtuous) strategists in Chinese history. When Liu Bei died, Zhuge Liang felt that his chances of restoring the Han while at the same time appearing as virtuous had disappeared: he could take full command of Shu Han and oust Liu Shan, and still possibly triumph over Cao Wei and Sun Wu, but he feared that he would be judged a worse villain than Dong Zhuo or Cao Cao (even the Man wasn't evil as to oust Emperor Xian, after all). He also didn't want to be held responsible for the collapse of Shu Han, so he wanted to die himself before it could happen.

What do you think of this interpretation? Do you think it is valid? I actually think it makes Zhuge Liang a more interesting character.

On a side note, I read somewhere that Zhuge Liang was part of the zajia 杂家 (the philosophical school founded by Lv Buwei before the beginning of the Qin Dynasty), but Larry Gonick seems to think he was a Daoist 'hermit/scholar/wizard'. Can't seem to find much by way of corroboration, historically speaking...
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Re: Did Zhuge Liang want to die?

Unread postby Guan Yan » Mon May 26, 2008 11:27 pm

Wei Wen Di your study on this makes sence to me and fully understandable it would seem that Zhuge Liang also would not what to be responcible for Shu's demise, after all they spent their whole lives to get there and many had died making this a reality.
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Re: Did Zhuge Liang want to die?

Unread postby Dong Zhou » Tue May 27, 2008 10:26 am

Interesting thought

The novel Zhuge Liang however wouldn't see Shu die, he had created such a strong defence and good state that even had he lived twenty more years, it wouldn't have died. I think also the novel Zhuge Liang is too loyal to the dream Liu Bei gave him not to give his all
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Re: Did Zhuge Liang want to die?

Unread postby Guan Yan » Tue May 27, 2008 10:32 am

Yes but would it make him really want to die? I mean his duty would be important but death is a bit harsh after all life is presious
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Re: Did Zhuge Liang want to die?

Unread postby Lonely_dragon » Wed May 28, 2008 1:22 am

Guan Yan wrote:Yes but would it make him really want to die? I mean his duty would be important but death is a bit harsh after all life is presious


I think he was merely trying to fulfill his promise to Liu Bei and that is to restore the Han Dynasty back to their rightful place... If only at the time where he launches those northern campaign the tigers general still lives... such as Ma Chao, Zhao Yun, Zhang Fei, Huang Zhong, and Guan Yu too (to save myself from a temper tantrum from Guan Yan... :lol: ) and strategist like Fa Zheng, Ma Su... I think Zhuge might had a chance against Wei... :(
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Re: Did Zhuge Liang want to die?

Unread postby Guan Yan » Wed May 28, 2008 6:29 am

Good one dragon :)

I think he would also think of his history I am pretty sure he would not want to be the one that was responcible for the demise of Shu.
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Re: Did Zhuge Liang want to die?

Unread postby Little_Phoenix » Wed May 28, 2008 10:28 am

Hmmm agree with Lonely_Dragon...

Zhuge Liang just fullfil his promise to Liu Bei. a promise to a ruler (especially an Emperor), like a command to obey. but Zhuge Liang push to much for him self. it's true he seek for his history....we can see it when he obey Liu Shan command to go back to Shu after winning the battle against Wei (Liu Shan excused just want to say "prime minister i missed you, long time not see") ...he choose to obey so he will not be blame as a traitor. if he choose not to obey, it's a traitor move. his name will be bad through out history.

he choose to serve Liu Shan...rather than depose Liu Shan. not like Sima Yan or Cao Pi.
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Re: Did Zhuge Liang want to die?

Unread postby Guan Yan » Wed May 28, 2008 11:15 am

Little_Phoenix wrote:he choose to serve Liu Shan...rather than depose Liu Shan. not like Sima Yan or Cao Pi.

oww i think you just put Sima Yan in his place :D But maybe it would have been better if Zhuge Liang controlled the empire because he's personal feelings do not sway his mind like Liu Bei or Liu Shan. In the novel not sure about history Liu Bei gave Zhuge Liang permission to control the empire if Liu Shan proved to be a fool.
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Re: Did Zhuge Liang want to die?

Unread postby Dong Zhou » Wed May 28, 2008 5:01 pm

History he does say the same thing but few think he meant it as anything more then a show of trust
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Re: Did Zhuge Liang want to die?

Unread postby white_tiger_55 » Wed May 28, 2008 9:21 pm

i dont think that zhuge liang wanted to die because before the northern campains he knew that shu had afew troops and resorses so obiesly he had a big disavantedge so why would he die if he knew if it was to difficult
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