The Story of the Thorn Hairpin is an anonymous work written in the fourteenth century. Wang Shipeng, a poor scholar, was engaged to Qian Yulian, who accepted his engagement gift of a thorn hairpin. Later Wang passed the civil examination as the top scholar and declined the prime minister’s offer of his daughter in marriage. Sun Ruquan, Wang’s friend who sought to marry Qian, schemed to turn Wang’s letter of welcome into a letter of divorce. The Qian family wrongly believed that Wang had become the son-in-law of the prime minister, thus forcing Qian to remarry. Qian refused, threw herself into the river in protest, and was luckily rescued by a prefect of the same family name. Years later Wang and Qian meet again by accident and the family is finally reunited.
Mother’s Visit depicts Wang after he had been awarded the title of top scholar and had written home to ask his mother and wife to meet him in the capital. His mother Madame Wang and Servant Li Cheng arrive at his residence. Not seeing Qian and finding his mother in a state of sadness, Wang becomes suspicious. After Madame Wang accidentally reveals the hair scarf of mourning, Wang questions her and learns that his letter was manipulated into a letter of divorce which drove Qian to commit suicide. In extreme angst, Wang faints. After he recovers his senses Wang determines to investigate the messenger and discover what happened.