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Schemes of the Warring States Writing Assignment (Essay Sample)


Chinese Literature: Pre-Qin to Tang                                               EAS 256H


1. Name: Fanxuan Guo     Student ID: 1003110288


2. Topic (copied from handout; this example is from a different course) [1pt]

Schemes of the Warring States (p. 82-83)

Lord Zhao says Yu Rang acts out of a personal desire for revenge rather than a proper

sense of loyalty.  Discuss whether you agree with this accusation based on your

reading of his story.


3. Primary Texts (from Owen textbook) [1pt]

The story of Yu-Rang from Schemes of the Warring States (Owen, 82-83)


4. Thesis (your answer to the question/s in one or two sentences) [2pts]

Yu Rang’s act of assassination has more personal desire than proper sense of loyalty.


5. Outline (three points supporting your thesis) [3pts]

  1. Yu Rang treated loyalty as paramount importance.
    1. Two failures of assassination were not coincidence.
    2. Both of Yu Rang and Lord Xiang gained good reputation

after first assassination. 

  1. The comparison of personality between Earl of Zhi and

Lord Xiang made Yu Rang hard to choose whether assassin

or not.


6. Two other sources (other than the textbook, with a brief description) [3pts]

Plaks, Andrew. Zuo Tradition / Zuozhuan: Commentary on the “Sprint and Autumn

Annals”. (Book) [This book gives important background information for Zhi bo, and

it contains another story -- assassination from Zhao Dun.]


Liezi. Liezi: Explaining Conjunctions. (Book) [This book gives important background

information for Lord Xiang.]


Schemes of the Warring States
Student Name
Word Count: 1657
Schemes of the Warring States
Lord Zhao Xiang indicates that Yu Rang is driven by a desire to revenge as opposed to a proper sense of loyalty. An examination of the story demonstrates that Yu Rang is indeed motivated by a desire to avenge for his slain master for selfish gain. Although Yu Rang cannot ascend to the throne after killing Lord Xiang, he goes ahead and plans how to assassinate him for his selfish gain. The actions of Yu Rang towards lord Xiang demonstrate that indeed Yu Rang does not want to avenge for his former master Zhi Bo, rather he is driven by a selfish desire to revenge.
In order to understand the motivation behind the actions of Yu Rang, it is critical to examine his background. Yi Rang initially serves as a family-minister of Fan Jishe and Zhonghang Yin. The two are among six of the influential ministers of the Jin State. However, Jishe and Zhonghang fail to appreciate the services of Yi Rang, which promps him to leave the families and serve Zhi Bo, who appreciats the young man very much. A cruel conflict ensures where the families of Jishe and Zhonghang are defeated by the families of Zhi, Zhao, Wei, and Hann. Zhi becames greedy and the rest of the three families join forces to eliminate the Zhi clan in the aftermath of Battle of Jinyang where in 453 BCE, Lord Zhao Xiang kills Zhi Bo. Since Lord Zhao Xiang had much hatred towards Zhi Bo, he uses the skull of Zhi Bo as a drinking cup. Yu Rang, a close follower of Zhi Bo, is outraged by how Lord Zhao had treated his master and vowed to avenge his master because he had treated him kindly. He departs and begins devising a plan how he can assassinate Lord Xiang and revenge for the actions he had done on the Zhi clan.[Patterson, Sarina. 2016. The Self-Made Man] [Zhan-guo ce. Schemes of the Warring States]
It is undeniable that Yu Rang treats loyalty as paramount importance. During this time in history, being loyal to one’s lord and filial piety are necessary traits. However, both are separate duties, and individuals were not supposed to confuse them. In this case, Yu Rang does not have a responsibility for revenge because his master is killed since he is a steward. The responsibility of revenging was reserved for the son. However, it is worth noting that Lord Xiang assassinates the entire family of Zhi Bo; hence there was no son left to avenge him. Yu Rang does not have anything to gain for assassinating Lord Xiang since he cannot not ascend to the throne since he was only but a servant. Hence, he flees to the hills where he can plan how to assassinate Lord Xiang and demonstrate his “loyalty” to his slain master. Yu Rang declares that “a liegeman dies for the man who appreciates him” His ultimate aim is to take vengeance on Lord Xiang because he considered him an enemy of the house of Earl of Zhi. This demonstrates that Yu Rang is driven by the selfish motive to kill Lord Xiang since he was not the right person to avenge for his master Zhi Bo.[ibid pg. 82]
The two failed attempts by Yu Rang to assassinate Lord Xiang are not a coincidence. Yu Rang takes time to device how he is going to carry out the assassination. He starts by disguising himself by disfiguring his appearance. He removes his hair and eyebrows and puts the lacquer on his body to create an impression of sores. Yu Rang goes ahead and swallows ashes to change his voice that people cannot easily recognize him. In the first attempt to kill Lord Xiang, Yu Rang hides in a lavatory and waits to kill his target. However, Lord Xiang gets worried and orders his worriers to search the lavatory where they find Yu Rang with a dagger. Yu Rang confesses that he wanted to avenge for Zhi Bo. Nonethele...

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