I hate Guo Jing but I love Zhang Wuji

I hate Guo Jing but I love Zhang Wuji

By psksvp (psksvp@gmail.com)

Why

Most people who read the Condor Trilogy by JY tended to like Guo Jing and Yang Guo more than Zhang Wuji. However I feel the opposite; I hate Guo Jing, I feel sorry for Yang Guo and I love Zhang Wuji. So I wrote the below to explain what I wrote in the title.

Background

The Condor Trilogy was an epic novel by JY. The trilogy comprised three volumes; The Legend Of Condor Hero (LOCH), The Return of The Condor Hero (ROCH) and The Heavenly Sword and Dragon Saber (HSDS).

I first read the trilogy when I was in High School. At the time when I read, I have not watched any adaptations; neither movies nor TV (my parents were very strict about TV). A friend borrowed me the first volume. It took me a while to finish. I finished it with mix feeling whether or not if I like it, because I hate Guo Jing, the main protagonist.

The same friend encouraged me to continued the second one; The ROCH. However this time, once I started, I was hooked. I could not stop reading. Every chapters kept my heart pounding. I cried when Yang Guo ran around tried to find His GoGo. I cried harder when Yang Guo and Xiaolongnü had to be separated for 16 years. I cried even more when they reunited.

My friend did not have to encourage me to start the third volume; The HSDS. I went slowly for the first few chapters, after that I could not put it down. Though I was a bit disappointed at the end. I did not like the ending, It felt like JY rushed to finish it, so I wrote the ending that I like.

Though, I still love HSDS the most, because I really love the kind of person Zhang Wuji was and whom I wish, I could be like, but I can never be.

After I finished all three volumes, I and probably many other readers have discovered that the third volume; The HSDS was like a mirror of the first volume; The LOCH. Below are some aspects of the mirror.

Similarity

  • Guo Jing lost his father and later his mother, so did Zhang Wuji. Both were orphans.
  • Guo Jing’s father died because of his own stupidity while his mother died trying to save him.
  • Zhang Wuji’s parents died at about the same time, because they tried to honor their sworn brother.
  • They both led the Wulin to fight with the Mongol, but Guo Jing fail while Zhang Wuji succeeded.

Mirror

  • Guo Jing indirectly destroyed the Song dynasty by helping Temüjin destroyed the Jin Empire.
  • Zhang Wuji reunited the Ming cult and Wulin martial art experts which eventually overthrew the Yuan Dynasty (Mongol) and restored the ethnic Han as the ruler of the Central Plains.
  • Guo Jing was engaged to a daughter of Temüjin but he left her from Huang Rong (Han).
  • Zhang Wuji was engaged to Zhou Zhiruo (Han) but he left her for Zhao Min (Mongol, but to be absolutely correct, Zhao Min’s father was a Turkic who served the Mongol)

I hate Guo Jing.

LOCH started at the time when the Song Dynasty (Southern Song) was very weak, the Song court was full of corrupt officials. The Song had been at war with the Jin and the Song was losing.

In the setting that JY wrote, the Jin was an archenemy of Guo Jing. A Jin prince; Wanyan Honglie and a corrupt Song’s official (Duan Tiande) killed his father. Guo Jing grew up on the far north grassland under the protection of Temüjin.. His young life was not a happy life. His mother always reminded him of who he was and how his farther was killed. To take revenge for his farther, he was used by Temüjin. JY wrote how Guo Jing raged to take revenge had caused the fall of the Song and million of innocent lives.

Guo Jing helped Temüjin destroyed the whole Jin Empire because of just one Jin person; Wanyan Honglie. The fall of the Jin, as a result, created a power vacuum. Of cause, Temüjin’s sight was not just at the Jin, he wanted the whole Central Plains. Guo Jing was really stupid to not recognize that.

The fact that JY tried to show was the Song Dynasty was losing its mandate to rule which the stupid Guo Jing did not understand, Thus he was used. However JY wrote Yang Guo to understand this fact, thus he refused to serve either side. Below is an excerpt from ROCH.

Feng Mofeng shook his head and said, “Though the force of one person is small, the force of many is strong. If everyone thought like you, who’d come out to defend the country against invaders?”

Yang Guo knew that his words were right, but now, there was nothing more important to him than finding his Gu Gu. He had wandered around Jianghu ever since he was small; he had suffered the abuse of officials. He saw that the Mongolians were indeed violent and ruthless, but the Song Emperor may not be a good person himself. There was no need for him to help the emperor. He just gave a wry smile and didn’t reply.

In addition, in order to hunt down Wanyan Honglie, Guo Jing led the Mongol army to destroy another Kingdom in Central Asia; Khwarazm which as a result caused hundred of thousand of innocent lives.

Guo Jing was a stupid fool who could easily be used. JY showed this aspect in the novel when Yang Kang had fooled Guo Jing to think that Huang Yaoshi was responsible for his Shifu death (The stupid 7 Freaks of Jiangnan). Instead of carefully conducting an investigation, he went on a rage to try to kill Huang Yaoshi. If it was not Huang Rong’s wit, either Huang Yaoshi would have killed him or he would have been regretted for the rest of his life.

Moreover, Guo Jing was the one who caused the hardship in Yang Guo’s life. First when Zhao Zhijing who was Yang Guo’s master at Quanzhen Sect, accused Yang Guo of being a dishonest. Guo Jing again, did not carefully investigate but blamed Yang Guo. Second, he openly condemned Yang Guo and Xiaolongnü when they announced their love for each other.

In the end, he took his whole family (except Guo Xiang) to die with him in Xiangyang when the Mongol broke through.

To me, I don’t see Guo Jing as a hero, he was just a fool who was lucky to have Huang Rong by his side. He saw the world in black and white. This kind of people should not know martial art or possesses any power, because they will end up being used by others.

I Love Zhang Wuji

HSDS took place at the time when the Mongol Yuan Dynasty was losing its grip in the Central Plains. The main part of the story took place about 80 years after the Fall of XiangYang which was about 15 years after the end of ROCH.

When Zhang Wuji was young, he lived a carefree life in a far away island. He was a happy child. His father was a WuDang disciple which was a righteous sect while his mother was from an unorthodox sect; The Heavenly Eagle Sect.

Zhang Wuji life changed drastically when his parents took him back to the Central Plains. He was inflicted with a cold poison palm and the tragic death of his parents right afterward. His parents was forced by the six major sects to reveal the location of their sworn brother XiaXun. These six major sects called themselves the righteous sects, they labeled the Ming Cult which XiaXun belonged, the evil unorthordox cult. They called Zhang Wuji an impure child since his mother was from The Heavenly Eagle Sect which broke out from the Ming cult. This event caused lot of plain physically and mentally to the Young Zhang Wuji, but somehow it shaped him into a kind hearted person.

Not long after losing his parents, he went to the Butterflies Valley to seek help for his cold poison from the divine physician Hu Qingniu. He spent about 5 years with the physician which in the end, he learned all the medical knowledge from the physician.

The experiences that Zhang Wuji learned at the Butterflies Valley refined him to be a very kind hearted person. His kindness extended to everyone, friends or enemies. Contrary to Guo Jing, Zhang Wuji did not see the world as black and white, since the physician himself was also the member of the Ming Cult.

After the time at the Butterflies Valley, fate took him to find the Nine Yang Manual which he practiced to cure the cold poison in his body and an accidental encountered with the top secret martial art manual of the Ming Cult which he practiced to save himself from being jailed under the mountain forever. The events gave him limitless power in internal energy and a matchless martial art skill.

However, with the limitless internal energy and unmatched martial art ability that he possessed, he hardly ever used it to harm anyone. He used it to heal and saved lives. JY wrote the sequence of events which the invincible Zhang Wuji encountered. It showed a big contrast with what Guo Jing encountered.

  • He took 3 palm strikes from Miejue shitai to save the Ming Cult fighters whom he never met before.
  • At the Brightness peak, he fought the six major sects’ martial art experts to stop the Ming cult disciples from being exterminated. These martial art experts were the ones who forced his parents to commit suicide, however, he did not use his limitless power to harm them, but he healed some of them and revealed the evil scheme of others.
  • When Zhang Wuji left the Butterflies Valley to send the young Yang Buhui to her father;Yang Xiao at the western region of Mt. Kunlun. They encountered He Taichong and his wife Ban Shuxian. Zhang Wuji healed He Taichong’s concubine but He Taichong repaid Zhang Wuji by trying to poison him and Yang Buhui. Instead of being vengeful, Zhang Wuji saved He Taichong and Ban Shuxian at Wan’An Temple.
  • At the end of the Lion Slayer Festival at Shaolin, he met Lu Zhangke and He Biweng who inflicted the cold poison palm on him when he was young. He could have killed the two easily but he did not harm them to take revenge, he used his martial art to destroy their power so they could not harm others with their cold poison.
    To me, Zhang Wuji is a hero, a real hero. He turned enemies into friends. He used passion instead of vengeful. He would be happy even though if he were to die with the cold poison. His mind is as pure as a saint.

Conclusion

When I read forums or listened to people talking about the trilogy, it tended to be that Guo Jing was a great hero while Zhang Wuji was just a womanizer, weak and indecisive. However I do not see so, in my opinion, Guo Jing was a stupid fool who could have been used to do evil things, he was lucky to have Huang Rong by his side. Zhang Wuji was a real hero who used his martial art to heal and to make friends.

love and hate are such strong words man…

Yes, they are mirroing each others and the best of all they are eyes catchers. :wink:

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I grew up watching the very, very, very, very abriged Jet Li version of HSDS, and I am very attached to Zhang Wuji because of that.

With that said, the two are very different characters with similar ideals.

Guo Jing is not a gifted martial talent, but through hard work and chance encounters with Ma Yu, Hong Qigong, Zhou Botong and Huang Yaoshi, he learns the skills needed to become one of the best fighters of his era.

Zhang Wuji is an intelligent adept, who only becomes even more adept when he learns the Nine Yang Divine Skill, which is immensely powerful and also increases his ability to learn fighting skills.

Guo Jing is meant to represent the ideal of dedication and hard work overcoming all challenges.
Zhang Wuji represents the prodigy who learns quickly and utilizes those skills to their maximum potential.

Being gifted, whether athletically, musically, physically or whatever, is not a given to every single person, and they can identify with the ideal that Guo Jing represents. He’s a hard worker who through his effort and some people taking an interest in him becomes a powerful gongfu fighter, and eventually the greatest hero of his era.

I myself was a very talented student in grade school, and I understand the appeal of Zhang Wuji, he lives up to the potential that was within him. He becomes a top level doctor, his martial skills are unsurpassed in all the wulin, and he strives to free China from Mongol rule.

Similar goals, similar ideals, but two different approaches.

They both believe in the way of the xia.

Guo Jing is meant to represent the ideal of dedication and hard work overcoming all challenges.

Zhang Wuji represents the prodigy who learns quickly and utilizes those skills to their maximum potential.

In my opinion, naturally Zhang Wuji was not a gifted nor a prodigy, it took him 5 years in the secluded valley to learn and to practice the Nine Yang Internal Energy Cultivation method. He could quickly achieve the high level of the Universal Grand Shift skill because of his strong foundation in Nine Yang Internal energy.

However, what I really want to say in that article was, the reason for learning those fancy things had a very big contrast between Guo Jing and Zhang Wuji. Guo Jing learned it to take revenge, while Zhang Wuji learned it to heal himself.

Being trained as a doctor and sick since he was young, Zhang Wuji learned how precious a life was. In addition, knowing how XieXun had deep pain in his heart because of his senseless killings to take revenge, Zhang Wuji learned to have compassion to everyone, for him taking a life was not an easy choice, friends or foes. Even if he were to die under the hands of those villains, he would die as a happy man, his heart was pure and clean. (This was a trait, I wish, I had)

However Guo Jing grew up being taught by the stupid 7 freaks who only cared about the chivalry code of the Wulin. The purpose in his life was to take revenge for his father’s death. Though, he was a good person in general, but his mind was always with just one side of thing, thus he was being less compassion toward villain characters. With this kind of trait, he was being used by Temujin and easily fooled by YangKang. His actions caused lot of innocent lives.

In the long history of the Central Plains, there were many example of Guo Jing’s trait, for example HanXin was used by LuiBang. Another example which JY took it from the recorded history and put it in his novel, XuDa was used by Zhu Yuanzhang.

I disagree with the notion that “GuoJing was the greatest hero of his era”. Appearancely, it may look like so. To me, he was fighting a losing war, the Song court was so corrupted, just as the Yuan court was very corrupted in HSDS. It was never about the Han VS Mongol. It was about how to return peace to the common people.

Then the next question one could ask me would be, “Then, what should GuoJing do?” My answer would be, he should have done what Zhao Kuangyin did at Chen Bridge.

In their similarity, both Guo Jing and Zhang Wuji did not have streetwise trait. Both met a wonderful partner who guided and helped them through difficult times.

Specially Zhao Min who guided Zhang Wuji even though Zhang Wuji was about to kill her. Through reasoning, she taught him a very important lesson in life, “Wuji Gege! You must not get to an easy and quick conclusion, if you don’t see it with your own eyes, heard it with your own ears and test it with your own hands.” This was something I always try to remember and practice. Ideally, One should try to have a heart like Zhang Wuji and have a mind like Zhao Min.

Sorry, I went a bit too long again.

psksvp

All very good points. I also like to point out that Guo Jing was portrayed as the silly boy. Naive and simple. He relied a lot on Huang Rong’s wits. Zhang Wuji in contrast was very smart but too trusting. Their personalities also played a part on top of their upbringing.

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This is what’s called taiji.

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Thinking about it again, it is so like you suggest. :wink:

I like how Taiji is a very prominent theme in HSDS.

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I wonder if it is because of the emergence of Wudang or if it was a phase Jin Yong was going through.