f Angelo Miguel Flores
Contextual Analysis of Li Tuan’s On Hearing Her Play The Harp
1. From my point of view, I think Xiao Qiao is seated beside a window on a day in winter. The window is made of wood as is the house made of wood and brick. It was fashioned from the pagoda’s design. She is seated on a wooden stool beside her harp. Judging from the fact that Xiao Qiao and Zhou Yu were prominent names in Chinese history, I believe that they resided in the city of Ch’ang-an, the biggest city in China. The city was the busiest city in China at the time. And probably outside Xiao Qiao’s window are shops and streets filled with people especially the tea shop where people go to warm themselves during a cold winter day.
2. Zhou Yu was the general of Qu of the three kingdoms in Ancient China. He was handsome and ...view middle of the document...
3. Xiao Qiao literally means “the younger Qiao”. She is called so because she is the younger daughter of Xiao Quan, one of the most influential icons in their time. Her elder sister, Da Qiao, was married to Sun Ce, one of China’s best generals. Xiao Qiao was married to Zhou Yu. In the poem, Chou Yu also pertains to Zhou Yu, the handsome and intelligent militarist. Xiao Qiao would most probably be the musician being talked about in the poem because there is a certain tradition in China that women of high society during the time (I’m not sure if it still applies to today’s Chinese society) must know how to play at least one instrument. And the reference to Zhou Yu makes this theory stronger because of the fact that Xiao Qiao was her husband.
4. She touches a wrong note every now and then because it was said that Zhou Yu is a great musician who could point out mistakes in music even when he was drunk. Having said that, Xiao Qiao was most probably trying to catch Zhou Yu’s attention by playing wrong notes every now and then. It was actually a good strategy because she made sure that she caught Zhou Yu’s attention not only through her intended mistakes but with her alluring beauty as well.
5. I think contextual research made my reading better because before I knew about the historical and cultural background of the story, there was no way I could have understood the poem as better as I do now. And it also made my imagination of the story more vivid than ever.
6. Reading literature does not only involve just reading at face value. Most stories are derived from rich historical and cultural backgrounds. Reading intelligently and skilfully involves a certain story and researching where it comes from. Where the author comes from, the author’s characters, the setting of the story, basically everything else that surrounds the story aside from just the text.