The Jade Pin, written by Lian Gao (1527-1609?), depicts a secret love affair between Pan Bizheng, a scholar, and Chen Miaochang, a young maiden cloistered in a nunnery, and the consequences that ensue when it becomes known.
In childhood Bizheng was arranged by his parents to marry a girl named Jiaolian Chen. Due to political upheavals, the two families lost contact and Jiaolian, after her father’s death, was further separated from her mother while fleeing from warring disturbances. Left with no support, Jiaolian sought shelter and protection in a nunnery as a nun-to-be and changed her name to Miaochang. Bizheng, ashamed to return home after failing a civil examination, is granted permission by the abbess, his aunt, to temporarily stay in the nunnery where he meets and falls in love with Miaochang. After discovering their love affair, the abbess forces Bizheng to promptly depart and a tearful separation of the lovers ensues. Later Bizheng passes the exam and marries Miaochang. He brings her to meet his parents and finds out that Miaochang is actually Jiaolian, whom he was supposed to and is destined to marry.
The Zither depicts Pan’s first encounter with Chen one night while taking a walk under the moon. He hears someone, who turns out to be Chen, playing a zither. Through the encounter Bizheng hints at his admiration of her and learns of Chen’s feelings for him.
Love Through a Poem
Love Through a Poem portrays Bizheng’s unexpected visit to Miaochang’s chamber, where he chances upon her napping by her desk. Bizheng manages to steal the poem Miaochang had just composed from under her elbow and learns of her affection for him. When Miaochang awakens, Bizheng uses the poem to force her to confess her love. With the poem as witness, they vow to become husband and wife.