by Wong, Yim-ling

Abstract (Summary)
(Uncorrected OCR) 1

Abstract of thesis enti tIed "The Characters in the Zhuangzi" submitted by Wong Vim Lin~ for the degree of Master of Philosophy at the University of Hong Kong in June, 1988.

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Zhuang-zi (ca. 369-286 B.C.) was a prominent figure in the philosophic and literary circles and exercised a great influence upon the later writers. The sayings of Zhuang-zi are usually regarded as the tenets of Taoism. His book, Zhuang-zi, is one of the most celebrated texts of the Chinese literature; so a great deal of works have been done on it. However, a comprehensive study of the characters in the Zhuang-zi has hi therto never been touched. Therefore, this thesis attempts, at least to some extent, to fill the


This thesis aims at presenting a thorough study of the characters in the Zhuang-zi in order to have a better understanding of the thoughts and the craftsmanship of Zhuang-zi. There are thirty-three chapters of Zhuang-zi' s work handed down to us today. Among these chapters, the first seven are called "inner chapters", the next fifteen "outer" and the remaining eleven "miscellaneous". It has been held that the "inner chapters" are from the hand of Zhuang-zi; they contain most of the basic ideas of the work while the remaining chapters expand and elaborate on these




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This thesis comprises five chapters. Chapter I is a

complete examination of the characters in the Zhuang-zi, finding their identites based on the interpretation given by traditional Chinese critics and modern scholars. When where opinion differ, I will accept the interpretation which seems to be most reasonable.

In~chapter II, I try to investigate their alias and the relationship among these characters. Meanwhile, I find out that these characters belong to different periods: the ancient time, Tang, Yu, Xia, Shang, Zhou, Spring & Autumn, and Warring States.

The core of my thesis lies in Chapter III. I classify the characters in the Zhuang-zi into fourteen groups: 1. fairies, 2. emperors, 3. kings, 4. officials, 5. sages, 6. the recluse, 7. scholars, 8. fair ladies, 9. the ideal persons, 10. the spiritual, 11. persons used to express fables, 12. the deformed, 13. technicians, 14. persons expressed in general terms. The characteristics of each type fu-e di scussed.

Chapter IV analyses and exemplifies how Zhuang-zi uses

these characters, through their behaviour and conversation with other people, to express his thoughts.

Chapter V is the conclusion. According to my findings, Zhuang-zi utilizes so many figures in his book in order to achieve two purposes. Firstly, it may express his ideas


lively as if he is telling stories to readers. Secondly, it is forceful and impressive, when historical figures are used to preach a lesson. Indeed, no literary works other than Zhuang- zi has so many characters in a book.

Appendix provides a list of all the characters in the Zhuang-zi with reference to A Concordance to Chuang Tzu.

A selected Bibliography is attached at the end of the thesis.

Bibliographical Information:


School:The University of Hong Kong

School Location:China - Hong Kong SAR

Source Type:Master's Thesis



Date of Publication:01/01/1989

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