Samiksha Jaiswal (Editor)

Bai Yutang

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Alias(es)  Jin Maoshu (金懋叔)
Family  Bai Jintang, brother
Hometown  Jinhua, Wu Prefecture
Created by  Shi Yukun
Bai Yutang pre13deviantartnet2cd4thprei201033842bq
Appearances  Bai Yutang is the most good-looking man in the novel. He is young, energetic, and delicate. He has bright eyes and neat eyebrows (眉清目秀), with aristocratic manner and suave movements.
Nickname(s)  Sleek Rat (錦毛鼠; Jǐnmáoshǔ)
Sworn siblings  Lu Fang, 1st brother Han Zhang, 2nd brother Xu Qing, 3rd brother Jiang Ping, 4th brother Yan Chasan (Yan Shenmin)
Similar  Zhan Zhao, Xu Qing, Han Zhang, Yang Guo, Qin Xianglian

Bai Yutang, nicknamed "Sleek Rat", is a fictional Song dynasty knight-errant from the 19th-century Chinese novel The Seven Heroes and Five Gallants.

Contents

Handsome, brave, clever and charismatic, Bai Yutang was the youngest sworn brother and the best fighter of the "Five Rats of Hollow Island", whose other members were Lu Fang, Han Zhang, Xu Qing, and Jiang Ping. Though very righteous, he was also cruel, arrogant, reckless and stubborn. Bai became enraged after hearing fellow knight-errant Zhan Zhao was given the title "Imperial Cat" by the emperor, and hurried off to Kaifeng to challenge Zhan. Using his extraordinary martial arts skills to intrude into respectively the government headquarters of Prefect Bao, the residence of Imperial Tutor Pang, and even the imperial palace, he performed a number of spectacular acts and crimes. He also succeeded in capturing Zhan in a trap, but was captured by his sworn brothers, after which he reluctantly followed them and submitted to the government. The emperor forgave his many crimes and assigned him to assist his sworn brother Judge Yan to foil Prince of Xiangyang's rebellion. Overconfident in his abilities, Bai heedlessly ventured into the prince's deadly Sky-Scraping Tower and suffered a tragic death in the Brass Net Trap. He was still in his teens.

In the novel

Bai Yutang's older brother Bai Jintang (白錦堂) was a generous man but died early. Bai Yutang then wandered to Lu Fang's village at Hollow Island and became sworn brothers with Lu and 3 other talented men. Together they called themselves "Five Rats" and performed chivalric deeds, at times traveling around the country.

Bai Yutang became outraged with jealousy upon hearing that Zhan Zhao had been honored by Emperor Renzong with the title "Imperial Cat". To prove himself, he went to the palace to create trouble in order to have Zhan Zhao pursue him.

Significantly younger than all the other heroes and gallants in the book except for Ai Hu, Bai was the first one to die when he fell in the Brass Net Trap of the Sky-Scraping Tower.

Evaluation

Hu Shih praised the characterization of Bai Yutang without reserve, calling him "the most lively figure in the novel". Bai's many personality defects, Hu argued, made him a "believable chivalric hero" that surpassed the "fully virtuous heroes". Similarly, Cao Zhengwen wrote "the lifelike portrayal of this character indicates that the author is already good at handling the dual features of fictitious images.

In film and TV

Bai Yutang was portrayed by more than 2 dozen actors in different films and TV series, the more notable actors being Alexander Fu Sheng, Chin Siu-ho, Sun Xing, Vincent Chiao, Michael Tong, Benny Chan and Chen Xiao. In the 2003 comedy film Cat and Mouse, actress Cecilia Cheung portrayed a "female" Bai Yutang.

References

Bai Yutang Wikipedia


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