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Legends

Chinese Romeo and Juliet

Folklore:

This is a chinese folktale that focuses on a forbidden love, between two people from rival families. One day the man is killed and the woman comes to visit his funeral, when she sees him in his coffin she is so struck by grief she climbs into his coffin. In the coffin the woman commits suicide to join her lover. However after she dies both man and woman turn into butterflies and fly out of the coffin together.

Background & Context:

This story was collected in a casual lunch setting. The informant was a 21 year old junior at USC. She is ethnically Chinese but has grown up in New York her entire life. The way she found about this folktale was by watching a popular Chinese from several years ago, that is a remake of this traditional tale. She also compares the tale as the Chinese version of Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare.

Final Thoughts:

My thoughts on this tale is that it is a very romantic story. Thoughts I had from my informant’s comment on how the story is similar to Romeo and Juliet is that this story as traditional Chinese folktale is most likely older than the play. There also might be folklore similar to this story from other regions that Shakespeare took inspiration from. What I also found interesting was how the informant originally heard about this folktale through mass media. I think it is unique and good how the media is teaching the newer generation of old traditional folktales that was previously passed down through other methods.

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