Sunrise, another four-act play, was first serialized in the Literary Monthly.
Greatly shocked by the suicides of two young female film stars who had been the target of merciless gossip in the tabloid press, Cao Yu poured his empathy into Sunrise's heroine, Chen Bailu. Groups of people including bankers, clerks, university students, workers, prostitutes and mafia figures revolve around Chen, a student-turned-courtesan, who lives in a luxury hotel, supported by a wealthy banker. Later, faced with her benefactor's bankruptcy, Chen commits suicide. Presenting vivid scenes of contemporary Chinese metropolitan life, the play studies evil and suffering, and conveys a strong social message: the need to rebel against the ruling plutocrats.
Cao Yu outlined his intentions in this play by eight quotations, the first and last of which are as follows:
For thus the way of God
Cuts people down when they have had too much
And fills the bowls of those who are in want.
But the way of man will not work like this:
The people who have not enough are despoiled
For tribute to the rich and surfeited.
- Laozi Magnum opus on Taoism
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more.
- Book of Revelations 21:1
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