The Peach Blossom Fan V. Alexander Pope

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Desire vs. Destiny: Can Humans Control Their Fate? The K’ung Shang-Jen and Alexander Pope reveal that humans have the means to live virtuously; but, they do not possess the means to control their fate. In The Peach Blossom Fan K’ung Shang-Jen explains that Hou and the Fragrant Princess have the agency to maintain virtuous lives but they lack the means to preserve their relationship. Through the various phases of the peach blossom fan, K’ung Shang-Jen depicts the couple’s temporal happiness, distress, and how providence ultimately determines their fate. In “An Essay on Man” Pope delineates the importance of living according to God’s plan, or the Great Chain of Being. Like K’ung Shang-Jen he emphasizes man’s transient life on earth and confirms that humans are unable to judge their outcomes simply because they know that they have lived virtuously. Both authors suggest that human’s should live their lives knowing that their circumstances are unpredictable; even so, it is necessary for humans to appreciate what they have been given rather than long for what they think they should have. K’ung Shang-Jen correlates Hou and the Fragrant Princess’s inability to judge the fate of their relationship with the varying phases of the peach blossom fan. K’ung Shang-Jen introduces the simple, yet thought provoking, fan as a symbol of how the hero and heroine should live their lives. Both Hou and the Fragrant Princess reject living above their means and maintain the belief that living virtuously will lead to their desired fate. Accordingly, the two experience authentic happiness and dismiss the temptations of external encounters that test the strength of their virtue. One reoccurring burden that the two face is Juan, in his attempt to win the Fragrant Princess’s affection. Reacting to Juan’s pretentious efforts, the Fragrant says that she would rather stay true to the

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