Looking for True Love :  Fairy Disenchantment's Registers of Lovers



     In the book "The Dream of the Red Chamber" (also known as The Story of the Stone),
author Cao Xue Qin wanted to "disenchant" or warn the world as to the different kinds of love.
He implied there is only one kind which should be considered as True Love.
    In a dream, and under mythical circumstances, the main character of the novel, teen-age
boy Jia Bao Yu, met the Fairy Disenchantment in the Land of Illusions. She showed him three
(3) "registers" each containing the names and "the happenings in life" of 12 girls in his clan.
    Each girl represents a kind of love: True Love, Conscientious Love, ... etc. From the
stories which are unfolding in the novel, the reader should know the characteristics of the
different kinds of love, and should be able to distinguish True Love from the other kinds.
    In the novel itself, Bao Yu only caught a glimpse of the first part of the registers. The names
of the girls he saw are in Italics. For the rest, Cao Xueqin intended to complete the table
at the very end of the novel to show all 3 registers and the names of all 36 girls.

    Unfortunately, the novel was never "completed" to such a state. We are attempting to
complete the table for him, more than 200 years late! (The novel was published in 1791).
    This is our first attempt to complete the registers and we welcome "Dream of the Red
Chamber" scholars and fans for their suggestions and comments. In our opinion, it is better
late than never to have this table because even today, many people are confused about
what is True Love and what is not.
     We know that author Cao was very serious about this 'knowing what is true love' business
because he had thought about naming his NOVEL 'A Precious Guide for the Romantic' !
    To make any sense about the names, you have to have read the entire novel. English
translations of this novel can be found in Amazon.com's web-site. The spellings of the
names of the girls here follow the English translation by David Hawkes -- The Story
of the Stone in 5 volumes, published by Penguin.
    If you do not like to read novels, or you do not have the time, then look at this page
following the table. We have compiled a list of "definitions" about the various kinds of love.



Kinds of Love

Primary Register

Secondary Register

Tertiary Register

True Love

Lin Dai Yu



Conscientious Love

Xue Bao Chai

Xing Xiu Yan ?


Graceful Love

Jia Yuan Chun



Lost Love

Jia Tan Chun



Warm Love

Shi Xiang Yun

Xue Bao Qin


Fatal or Tragic Love




Foolish Love

Jia Ying Chun

You Er Jie


Unexpressed Love

Jia Xi Chun



False Love

Wang Xi Feng



Obsessive Love

Qiao Jie ?

You San Jie


Parental Love

Li Wan

Grandmother Jia


Adulterous Love

Qin Shi

Xia Jin Gui

Wife of Bao Er



True Love:
        True love is acceptance, committal, mutual and without any pre or post conditions. The
love between Lin Dai Yu and Jia Bao Yu is considered to be True Love. The love between
Jia Baoyu and Skybright is also considered to be True Love. Note the personal sacrifice
of Skybright. Caltrop loved even the un-lovable Xue Pan. Just saying or hearing I love you
is not good enough because talk is cheap. Action in mutual commitment is essential, as we
can see in the novel.
Conscientious Love:
        There is one difference between True Love and Conscientious Love. Conscientious Love
has CONDITIONS attached. Aroma said to Bao Yu, "If you change three things, I'll stay."
Bao Chai said to Bao Yu, "If you study hard, I'll be happy." The problem is, a person is
extremely hard to change. In the book, both Baochai and Aroma had "lost" Bao Yu's love
at the end.

Graceful Love:
        True kindness, lots of good deeds done, but it is not True Love and not to be mistaken
as such. The prime example here is Patience who is so kind and thoughtful to everyone
around her. She is an extremely NICE person.
Lost Love:
        Love which was once there but is now gone. It is absolutely futile to do anything to
try to save it. It is better to put it in the jewel box of memory. Life has to go on.
We have seen too many examples of estranged husbands stalking and killing their divorced
or separated wives. Her love has gone, and there is nothing he can do to bring it back.
Warm Love:
        Lots of laughter, lots of funny jokes, easy to get along with, and easy to fall in love with.
But is it True Love? Xiang Yun is a warm, lively chatterbox with a great sense of humor and
she can be a merciless teaser. She "loves" everybody, not just you.
Fatal or Tragic Love:
        How can anyone explain it? Fate has been extremely unkind and very little can be done.
An example is the girl who contracted AIDS on her very first sexual encounter! In our story,
from the moment when Chess had her liaison with her lover in the Prospect Garden (we have
our Garden of Eden, too), a series of bad luck, errors and misunderstandings led to her ouster
from the Garden and suicide. The tragedy was complete when her lover killed himself as well.
Foolish Love:
        Have you not seen enough of people who are staying in a relationship, HOPING that
EVENTUALLY things would get better. In this world of ours, they seldom do. Have the
wisdom to recognize it and have the courage to get out of it as soon as possible. You Er Jie's
misplaced hope for a good relationship with Jia Lian and Sunset's dashed hope for Jia Huan
should disenchant us.
Unexpressed Love:
        Outwardly cold and apathetic, but we have to look closer to find out whether she is really
not interested in you or that the love is merely unexpressed. It may require some trigger for
her to express her love, as in the case of Silver.
False Love:
        Watch out for the person who pretends to love, but who actually does not. Included in the
list is Xi Feng, who pretends to be so loving. Many people had been fooled by her.
Obsessive Love:
        Needless to say, Obsessive Love centers on the possession of the person who is the
object of pursuit. You San Jie WANTS to marry no one but Liu Xiang Lian. Charmante wants
no one but Jia Qiang. You can see the tragedy of You San-jie, written so beautifully in the book.
She does not care whether Liu Xiang Lian loves her or not, or whether he is even interested!
Parental Love:
        It is similar to True Love but the object of love is the child or children. Complete
acceptance, unconditional, full committal and personal sacrifice are all there. Nightingale
is listed here because although she is only the maid of Dai Yu, She has devoted herself to
her, and has tried even to look for a husband for her.
Adulterous Love:
        Ah! The forbidden fruit and the fleeting but intense sensual pleasure ... But it is not
going to last because God and society do not allow it. Both our heroines of Adulterous Love
Qin Shi and Bao Er's Wife hanged themselves when their secrets were blown.
    For those of you who can read Chinese, the following is the Chinese version of the table

This page created: May 5, 2002

See also our Chinese Culture page  
and our Chinese business card page. 

Note the background image: With hot tears streaming down her face and with complete acceptance, Grandmother Jia
                                            welcomes her orphan grand-daughter Lin Dai Yu, showing 'grand' parental love, while
                                            other maids and ladies-in-waiting are looking on. 

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