Dou E Yuan, commonly translated as The Injustice to Dou E, and also
known as Snow in Midsummer, is a Chinese play written by Guan Hanqing
(c. 1241–1320) during the Yuan dynasty. The full Chinese title of
the play is Gan Tian Dong Di Dou E Yuan, which roughly translates to
The Injustice to Dou E
1.1 Prologue 1.2 Act 1 1.3 Act 2 1.4 Act 3 1.5 Act 4
2 Main characters 3 Problems of text and translation 4 Adaptations
4.1 Chinese opera 4.2 Theatre 4.3 Film and television
5 Notes 6 References and further reading
6.1 Translations 6.2 Critical studies
7 External links
Story Prologue Dou Duanyun, a young maiden from Chuzhou (楚州; present-day Huai'an District, Huai'an, Jiangsu), is sold to the Cai family as a child bride because her father, Dou Tianzhang, owed people a lot of money and could not repay his debts. She is renamed 'Dou E'. Act 1 Dou E's husband died two years after their marriage, leaving behind Dou E and her mother-in-law to depend on each other. Dou E and her mother-in-law are bullied by Sai Lu Yi, an unscrupulous physician. Sai Lu Yi almost kills Dou's mother-in-law by strangling her. Dou E and her mother-in-law are saved by the hooligan Zhang Lü'er and his father. Zhang pretends to offer them "protection" and moves into their house against their will, and then tries to force Dou E to marry him but she refuses. Act 2 Dou E's mother-in-law has a sudden craving for soup. Zhang Lü'er plots to murder Dou E's mother-in-law so that he can seize Dou E for himself after the older woman dies. He blackmails Sai Lu Yi for poison by threatening to report the physician to the authorities for his earlier attempt to murder Dou E's mother-in-law. He puts the poison in the soup and hopes that Dou E's mother-in-law will drink it and die. However, Zhang's father drinks the soup instead and dies from poisoning. Zhang Lü'er then frames Dou E for murdering his father. Dou E is arrested and brought before the prefecture governor, Tao Wu, who subjects her to various tortures to force her to confess to the crime. Dou E does not want her mother-in-law to be implicated so she admits to the murder. Tao Wu sentences her to death by beheading. Act 3 Dou E is brought to the execution ground. Before her execution, she swears that her innocence will be proven if the following three events occur after she dies:
Her blood will spill on her clothes but will not drip onto the ground. There will be heavy snowfall in the sixth lunar month (in the midst of summer) and the thick snow will cover her dead body. Chuzhou will experience a drought for three years.
The three events happened after Dou E's death.
Three years later, Dou E's ghost appears before her father, Dou
Tianzhang, who has become a lianfangshi (廉訪使; a senior
government official) in the
Dou E (竇娥), the main character, originally named Dou Duanyun
Dou Tianzhang (竇天章), Dou E's father.
Dou E's mother-in-law, referred to as Granny Cai (蔡婆) in the play.
Zhang Lü'er (張驢兒; literally "Zhang the mule" or "Zhang the
donkey"), the man responsible for Dou E's plight.
Zhang Lü'er's father, referred to as Zhang's father (張父) in the
Sai Lu Yi (賽盧醫; literally "equivalent to the Physician from
Lu"), the physician who provided the poison that killed Zhang Lü'er's
father. "Physician from Lu" (盧醫) is the nickname of Bian Que, a
famous physician in ancient China.
Problems of text and translation
Stephen H. West notes that the texts of Yuan drama were
edited and "extensively altered" by
Zang Maoxun (1550-162), whose
Yuanqu xuan (元曲選) became the standard anthology. Zang
rationalised both the language and the format of the plays he edited,
rather than the "coarser and more rugged – sometimes ragged –
registers of language found in the early commercial editions of Yuan
Almost all English translations before those in the anthology by West
and Idema were based on Zang's recensions. David Rolston remarks that
"West and Idema are clearly very interested in the levels of language
in the plays they translate (their translations do not shy from
highlighting the rawer or racier elements of plays in ways generally
ignored or suppressed by other translators)." Their translations, he
says, will be more useful to those who are interested in the history
of the theater and the plays, while the emphasis on readability in
translations based on Zang's texts, such as that by
George Kao in the
Columbia Anthology, will be more appealing to general readers.
The play has been adapted into kunqu and zaju, as well as a 1956
Snow Storm in June (六月雪; luk6 jyut6 syut3), a 1959 film
^ Chan, Sin-Wai and David E. Pollard (2001). An Encyclopaedia of
Translation: Chinese-English, English-Chinese. Chinese University
Press. p. 178. ISBN 9789622019973.
^ West (1991), p. 283.
^ Rolston (2015), p. 663.
References and further reading Translations Translations can be found in the following volumes:
Guan, Hanqing (1972). Injustice to Tou O: (Tou O Yuan). translated by Chung-wen Shih. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0521082285. A translation and study of the play. Hsia, C. T.; Li, Wai-yee; Kao, George, eds. (2014). The Columbia Anthology of Yuan Drama. Translations from the Asian Classics. New York: Columbia University Press. ISBN 0231537344. Translated as " Rescuing a Sister," by George Kao and Wai-yee Li. Kuan, Han-ch'ing (2003). Selected Plays of Kuan Han-ch'ing (illustrated ed.). University Press of the Pacific. ISBN 1410206165. Liu, Jung-en (1977). Six Yüan Plays. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books. ISBN 0140442626. West, Stephen H.; Idema, Wilt (2010). Monks, Bandits, Lovers, and Immortals: Eleven Early Chinese Plays. Indianapolis: Hackett. ISBN 9781603842006.
Ao, Yumin (2015). A Study on the Thematic, Narrative, and Musical Structure of Guan Hanqing's Yuan Zaju, Injustice to Dou E. New York: Peter Lang. ISBN 1433130556. Rolston, David (2015). "(Review) The Columbia Anthology of Yuan Drama Ed. By C. T. Hsia, Wai-Yee Li, and George Kao". Asian Theater Journal. 32 (2): 663–671. West, Stephen H. (1991). "A Study in Appropriation: Zang Maoxun's Injustice to Dou E". Journal of the American Oriental Society. 111 (2): 283–302.
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