朱買臣

書生朱買臣多年應試不中,夫妻多年來牛衣對泣,仍不忘學優則仕。朱買臣間以砍柴度日,維持生計。朱買臣雖對妻崔氏的指責逆來順受,但他不顧眼下貧寒,整天空想讀書出仕。常言「吾年五十當富貴」,實使妻子難再忍受。在媒婆的唆擺下,崔氏迫朱買臣寫下休書任她改嫁。

 

後朱買臣得友人資助上京赴試,而崔氏改嫁後,受到丈夫拳腳打罵,再度離異,不免想起朱買臣的好處。買臣高中,報子尋訪朱門向崔氏詢問。為此崔氏更思索往日種種,復見朱買臣派遣衙役接她一同上任,卻原來是南柯一夢。驟聽一陣鳴鑼喝道,正是新任太守朱買臣上任,崔氏走上官道攔著馬頭,乞求破鏡重圓。朱買臣命人潑水馬前,惟終是覆水難收,舊情難續。崔氏悔恨難當,投水而死。



Zhu Maichen

Zhu Maichen is a scholar who has failed the imperial exam for many times. Through all these years, even though he and his wife lead an impoverished life, he has never given up the idea of studying for the imperial exam. Zhu makes a living, supporting his family by chopping firewood whenever he can take time away from his study. Despite his wife Cui’s constant nagging and humiliation, their desperate predicament does not seem to concern him; he continues to dream of the day he will finally arise above all his past failures. The motto he frequently recites is “I will become rich when I turn fifty.”

 

His wife finds it no longer tolerable to withstand this lifestyle with him, so, when urged by the matchmaker,Cui forces Zhu to sign a letter of divorce, thus allowing her to remarry. After that, with financial support from friends, Zhu leaves and heads for the capital to take the imperial exam again. Meanwhile, after Cuiremarries she is often beaten, kicked and cursed. When she can’t tolerate it anymore, she again leaves her husband, and starts to remember all of Zhu’s good qualities.

 

Zhu passes the imperial exam with honors and returns. He seeks out Cui to inquire after her. This kind gesture further makes Cui reminisce about the past and even wish how Zhu will send for her, and have his courier pick her up so they may approach his new post in court together. She wakes up to find she was just daydreaming.

 

With a loud drum roll and sonorous gong, Zhu arrives as the new prefect. Cui approaches the royal path and blocks the horse’s way. She pleads to reunite withZhu as his wife again. Zhu orders his servants to splash water in front of the horses to show that water splashed out can never be retrieved; it is impossible to rekindle their relationship. Cui, full of regret and unable to withstand the remorse, kills herself.