Sunday, 17 May 2009

Names: Cho Chang

Sometimes a book can be more helpful than the internet. It was in a Swedish book on Chinese mythology and history (by Alf Henriksson & Hwang Tsu-Yü) that I found Chou Chuang-tzu, also sometimes spelled Zhuangzi, a Chinese philosopher in the 4th century b.c. (Chou is the first name.)

There are especially two stories about him (out of the few I've glanced at) that I think sort of relate to the story in The Goblet of Fire (GoF); which is the book where we are first introduced to Cho Chang (who becomes Harry Potter's girlfriend in the next book, The Order of the Phoenix).

One is this:

Once Chuang Chou dreamt he was a butterfly, a butterfly flitting and fluttering around, happy with himself and doing as he pleased. He didn't know he was Chuang Chou. Suddenly he woke up and there he was, solid and unmistakable Chuang Chou. But he didn't know if he was Chuang Chou who had dreamt he was a butterfly, or a butterfly dreaming he was Chuang Chou. Between Chuang Chou and a butterfly there must be some distinction! This is called the Transformation of Things. (Quoted from a website about Taoism)

In GoF, we have Rita Skeeter transforming into a beetle. Before GoF, we had only been introduced to "mammal" Animagi. A butterfly is a kind of insect, and so is a beetle. (It always seemed to me a very risky kind of transformation...)

With the name Cho Chang, Rowling might also want to indicate subtly that Cho will not be Harry's lasting female companion. Cho is a "butterfly", who does not quite have the endurance that Ginny later shows...

The other story I haven't been able to find on the internet, but Alf Henriksson & Hwang Tsu-Yü include in the Swedish book:

This is a story about Chuang-tzu, from the 17th century collection of stories Chin-ku Ch'i-kuan. In this story, Chuang-tzu lies dead in his coffin, which is still kept in his house. His widow falls in love with a prince who used to be his student. On the night of their wedding, the prince falls ill, and says the only thing that could cure him would be a piece of a human brain. Chuang-tzus widow does not hesitate; she breaks open the coffin of her former husband. But when she does, the body of her husband wakes up, and the prince disappears. It turns out the prince was just another incarnation of Chuang-tzu. The wife hangs herself, but Chuang-tzu beats a drum and sings a happy song about death.

In GoF, we have Lord Voldemort rising from the dead by digging up the bones of his father in a graveyard, and using these (and a few other things) for a sort of second incarnation of himself.

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