Written by students of FC1750.06
at Founders College, York University
Vol.2, no. 3, June-August, 1997
The country's ruler is like a hunter with powerful weapons, and he has an army to execute his plans. Yet he is in turn being watched and preyed on as everyone wants the royal privileges. Qinlong is in greater danger than the civilians because they are vying for his throne. Always protected by his guards, the emperor cannot live a normal life as he wishes. Whenever he cannot handle the pressure, he dreams about his imaginary city, goes hunting, and thinks of the past in order to escape reality.
In his mind, this imaginary city is a perfect place, with servants pretending to live there and free from all kinds of human traps. He also loves hunting because it gives him the feeling of being in charge and being free. He is at once the hunter in the forest and the deer being preyed on by ambitious individuals in the palace. In Cantonese, there is a saying, "jok lok hung yeun," which literally means "chase the deer of the kingdom." Another saying is "lok say shai sau," which means a contest for the life of the deer.
Gentle and graceful, a deer is often the target for many hunters and its every move is being watched by them. Just as Wong Ah Weg and his wife struggle to make a livelihood but lose their dream of financial independence at the end, the deer loses its life to the hunters. The emperor, who dashes the humble dream of a commoner, also fails to liberate himself from the entrapment of reality.
Illustration by Billy Lo