The Ethical Struggles in “The Three-Body Problem” Novel

The Chinese fiction novelThe Three-Body Problem has become a hit right after its first publication. It is a trilogy containing The Three-Body Problem, The Dark Forest and Death’s End. Because of the books’ attractive and imaginative plots,its writer Liu Cixin won many awards and even became the first Asian writer to win the Hugo-Award. After fighting over the right to film the novel for a long time, it is going to be adapted into an original series by Netfilx. The popularity of this novel is so amazing that makes us feel bewildered. Why is it so popular? From the characters, we can find out the reason immediately.

In the first novel of this trilogy, Ye Wenjie who was born in a highly-educated family plays a key role in it. She is trapped in a precarious situation during China’s Cultural Revolution. Ye was at first an innocent student who gradually becomes a callous and cruel researcher determined to betray the whole human race. Her ethical transformation is nothing short of impressive and we cannot deny this novel’s attraction. In the book, we can see that she was hesitant to make a decision at first and then her ethical struggle faded away as time passed by. Here are two stages that may account for her attitude transformation.

Stage One: Faith is Lost in the Turmoil

Due to the inflicting period in China’s Cultural Revolution, Ye Wenjie was forced to work in the rural area after her father was tortured to death. One day she was forced to sign her name on a document, which was used to frame other people for the wrongdoing. However, when Ye turned down the request, the cadre Cheng changed her gentle voice into a furious action and poured a bucket of cold water onto Ye. At that time, Ye gradually lost her faith in benevolent humanity. She didn’t know what to believe and whom she should believe in. She was totally at a loss.

Stage Two: Loyalty to Herself but Betrayal to the Whole World

            When she worked for the government agency called the Red Coast Base Ye found out a way to transmit messages to the outer space. Instinctively, she sent a message to the outside world and happened to receive the signal from the distant planet of Trisolaris. Her colleague noticed her intention and was about to snitch on her. Then she set up a trap and killed both the colleague and her husband. She achieved her goal and did not feel guilty about it at all. But what Ye did was a total betrayal to the whole world.

For Ye, this was justifiable because she wanted to carry out her new plan-that is to let other more civilized aliens to take charge of the whole human race. But for most of us, her deed is unforgivable ethically and morally. Using the most advanced techniques to take revenge on the whole world is unbelievable and immoral. However, on the other hand, we also feel pity for Ye’s experience. At last, we will find ourselves in a dilemma. The novel is fascinating as it touches upon many controversial topics and characters. The reader will find a true self in this novel and enjoy the sparks of thought during reading!

Author: Jiang Mingway


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Christophe Rude

Christophe Rude

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