-- Best Essays --
Friendship, Love, and the Moon
In many cultures, there are diverse legends and myths of the moon. Some
people regard the moon as God and some people believe that the moon brings
good fortune. Especially in many Asian countries, it is an ancient custom to celebrate the harvest in autumn and enjoy great food, fresh and savory, while watching the moon. Today the autumn festival becomes more a good excuse for people to escape from their busy lives or to get together with their friends than for an appreciation of a prosperous harvest. In my country, Japan, we have a special day called Jyugo-ya, which means the fifteenth night, and in which people celebrate the wealth and rich harvest of the year. On the fifteenth day of the harvest month, people prepare a variety of seasonal foods, like rice dumplings, persimmons, and chestnuts. They offer pampas grass, and watch the moon. Therefore, I believe that the moon has different cultural meanings for people in different countries. In the classic Vietnamese poem "The Tale of Kieu," the author, Nguyen Du successfully portrays some of the qualities that are valued in Vietnamese society by using an image of nature, the moon, throughout the story. I say this because Du incorporates the important essences, such as beauty, purity, and love, with the image of the moon into the dramatic events. Particularly, love is the most remarkable quality in the story. Du describes three kinds of love, the love between friends, platonic love, and romantic love using different aspects of the moon to enhance each scene brilliantly.
I believe that Du uses the moon to represent that love between friends is precious. A beautiful friendship is built between the main character, Kieu, and a Buddhist nun, Giac Duyen. Giac teaches Kieu the principles of being a nun, and eventually, they become good friends. Kieu regards Giac Duyen as a friend one meets "once in a thousand years" (Du, line 2399). After five years of separation, Kieu escapes from Lord Ho and tries to commit suicide. As the fortuneteller, Tam Hop, predicts, Giac Duyen reunites with Kieu by rescuing her at the Ch'ien-t'ang shore. The friends' reunion makes "their mutual joy burst forth a hundred ways" (Du, line 2731) and strengthens their bond. "The two now shared one roof -the moon and wind cooled faces, while plain greens and salt cleansed hearts" (Du, line 2733-34). The moon here shows the passing of time. To build a strong relationship, time is necessary. Kieu and Giac Duyen spend a lot of time together while the moon rises and sets. They build strong trust and support
gradually, and their friendship becomes "sisterly love" (Khanh, 5).
Du uses moon imagery to indicates that platonic love is priceless. Kieu and her first love, Kim, reunite after fifteen years of physical separation. They still love each other and "still shines the same old moon both once swore by" (Du, line 3074). Their love for each other still exists and sparkles like the same moon that they used to see together. Because she is no longer a virgin, she proposes that they should be just friends, not to be a husband and a wife. When Kim objects to Kieu's idea and offers a new relationship-platonic love, "the waning moon shines more than at its full" (Du, line 3124). The symbol of pure love, the moon, starts growing and gleams as if it celebrates the establishment of a new relationship. Even though they don't have any sexual relationship, their lives are satisfied by
passionate love for each other. Their true love burns and expands, like the gigantic moon in the tremendous space, in their delightful lives together without sharing bed.
Although Kieu refuses to get married with Kim in the beginning, Kim's honest
and generous love for Kieu wins her heart and results in their marriage. "To fall in love, to part, to reunite- both felt mixed grief and joy as rose the moon" (Du, line 3140). Like the motion of the moon, they encounter happiness and sadness in their past. Their ardent love causes happy life like the moon waxes, and distant love causes unhappy life as the moon wanes. "Now they sipped wine, now played a game of chess, admiring flowers, waiting for the moon" (Du, line 3223). The moon here symbolizes the love in a comfortable and joyful life. In spite of their prolonged separation, their lasting love grows bigger and bigger, again, like the moon waxing. And, their hearts are full of love, like a full moon. Their constant love brings them a strong tie deep inside. Obviously, genuine love is so indestructible and powerful that it makes it possible to overcome their miserable past time.
Du also uses the moon to show the strength of romantic love. On the day Kieu encounters Kim for the first time, her newborn love is symbolized by the moon, "outside the window, squinting, peeped the moon" (Du, line 173). "Alone, in silence, she beheld the moon, her heart a raveled coil of hopes and fears" (Du, line 177-78). The moon reflects her virgin love with mixed feelings, the hope of expectation and fear of disappointment. And, Kieu's new love for Kim makes her wonder if it is fate that has brought them together. Often I feel the same way as Kieu when I meet a new person; I ask why did I meet this person among the billions of people in the world? I think to fall in love with someone makes life more valuable. After I fell in love, I felt more liveliness and satisfaction about my life and myself, and I considered the meanings of my life and existence.
Eventually, Kieu and Kim fall in love deeply with each other. When Kieu visits Kim's place, knowing " traditionally, seeing a man at night in his own apartment [is] a very shameful thing for a girl to do" (Khanh, 3), "the moon through branches cast shapes bright or dark" (Du, line 434) and shines a path to make it easy for her to reach his apartment. While "the stark bright moon was gazing from the skies" (Du, line 449), they swear an oath of their unceasing love for each other. It seems like the moon always watches Kieu intently and supports her love, as if the moon is trying to share the same feeling with her. As we know, the moon never wavers. The moon appears and rotates regularly for millions of years. Therefore, by presenting the moon, Du indicates the importance of constant love, like the love between Kieu and Kim. Their love is not like fireworks, flaring up in the beginning and burning out in the end. Their profoundly enormous love for each other is symbolized by the moon, steady and faithful; no one can destroy its presence.
Throughout the story, the author, Nguyen Du, describes three kinds of love, the love between friends, platonic love, and romantic love using different appearances of the moon to intensify each scene magnificently. In "The Tale
of Kieu," Du is able to describe the most crucial quality, love, in the story. Since "The tale of Kieu" was written, almost two centuries have passed. As time goes by, many things have changed in the world. Nevertheless, Du's concept of love is still true and reasonable. Like the same old moon that still appears, constant love is extremely valuable and precious. I believe that devoted love will be a precious force as long as there is a moon.
Du, Nguyen. The Tale of Kieu. Trans. Huynh Sanh Thong. Yale University, 1983.
"The Moon in Vietnamese Cultural Life as Reflected through The Tale of Kieu."
LUA VIET MAGAZINE (1997). 24 Jun. 1999.
Republic of China Government Information Office. Traditional and
Commemorative Holidays in Taiwan. 1996.
Swensson, John K. "The Tale of Kieu."
The moon is the only satellite of the earth. It is a bright object in the night sky. It does not have any light of its own but reflects the light of the sun. The moon is approximately 238000 miles away from the earth and hence looks small. It takes around twenty eight days to revolve around the earth and approximately the same time to complete one rotation. There is no atmosphere or air on the moon. So, there are no life forms on the moon.
The surface of the moon is rough and rugged. There are mountains and craters on its surface. Thus there are dark spots seen on the surface of the moon. The force of gravity is weak on the moon as compared to the earth; it is 1/6th of the earth's gravity. The moon has its phases. The days we see the complete moon, it is called a full moon. A moonlit night on a full moon night is really beautiful. Then it moves into different phases until we arrive at the new moon, where the moon cannot be seen in the night sky. Another interesting fact is that we can see only one side of the moon.
The moon also causes the high tide and low tide to happen to water bodies such as seas and oceans on the earth. The moon attracts the earth; and when the earth gets attracted to the moon, the water surfaces also get attracted and swell up, which finally results in the high tide. When the water subsequently recedes, it is said to be a low tide.
Several countries had led expeditions to the moon. The first people to land on the moon were Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin. After that several expeditions were made to the moon by countries like Russia and USA. Indian explorers are also thinking of landing on the moon. Thus with the help of technology we may be able to learn some more facts about the moon in the future.