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''Dream of the Red Chamber'' (Traditional: 紅樓夢; Simplified: 红楼梦; Pinyin: ''Hónglóu Mèng'') is considered one of [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Four_Great_Classical_Novels the Four Great Classics of Chinese literature]], along with ''Literature/WaterMargin'', ''Literature/JourneyToTheWest'' and ''Literature/RomanceOfTheThreeKingdoms''. Written in the mid-18th century by Cao Xueqin, it tells the story of the slow fall from grace of a rich family, the Jia household.

At the beginning of the story, Nüwa, an elder goddess of the Taoist pantheon, mends the heavens with stones. One of them is discarded but, having been touched by the goddess, acquires sentience. A Taoist priest and a Buddhist monk chance upon it and bring it into the world so that it may be reborn as a human.

The stone sees a crimson pearl flower, itself marked for reincarnation as a human being, and falls in love with it. The stone and the flower are respectively reincarnated into the heir to a rich family named Jia Baoyu, and his cousin Lin Daiyu. While unaware of their supernatural origins, Baoyu and Daiyu feel a deep attraction to each other; but Baoyu is expected to marry another girl, the demure Xue Baochai. This love triangle forms the main plot of the novel, against the backdrop of the decline of the family.

!! ''Dream of the Red Chamber'' contains examples of:

* ActuallyPrettyFunny: In Chapter 9, Jia Zheng, Bao Yu's father, questioned Li Gui, a servant, about what Bao Yu had been learning in class, and spoke of punishing him for allowing Bao Yu to neglect his studies. Li Gui nervously reported that Bao Yu was in the middle of learning the third volume of Shi Jing (Odes of Poetry) and quoted a line. But he messed up the second half of the line really badly. Everyone present laughed, and even Jia Zheng couldn't help himself.
* CloudCuckoolander: Baoyu sometimes, particularly when he loses the magic jade he was born with.
* CountryMouse: Grannie Liu. The character actually coined an idiom in Chinese that refers to a bumpkin in an unfamiliar, sophisticated environment.
%%* DistantPrologue
%%* {{Doorstopper}}
* DownerEnding: [[spoiler:And [[DepartmentOfRedundancyDepartment depressingly so.]] Lin Daiyu dies, thus causing Jia Baoyu to go to a monastery and ''become a monk''.]]
** Depends on which compilation you read, the fate of the family can be a BittersweetEnding.
* DreamSequence: Multiple instances, including a recurring DreamLand.
** And arguably, human existence as we know it, by Buddhist standards invoked in the opening and closing lines of the novel.
* DrinkingGame: Several of them are played throughout the novel.
%%* DrivenToSuicide: The list is long.
* EmbarrassingNickname: How Daiyu initally views her poetry club pen name. Everyone else finds it amusing.
* {{Foreshadowing}}: A set of poems Baoyu finds early in the novel tells the fates of many main characters in riddle form.
** This trope is present in ''everything'', from the girls' poems, to their favorite toys, to the games they like to play (it is even lampshaded by Baoyu's father at one point). And it requires [[GeniusBonus extensive knowledge of Chinese cultures, history, symbolism, imagery and anecdotes to fully comprehend them all]]. There is a reason the 80 chapters penned by Cao Xueqin are deemed a magnificent example in the art of {{Foreshadowing}} by redologists.
* GorgeousPeriodDress: The various [[LiveActionTV live-action TV]] adaptations invariably feature those, as is appropriate for a cast of upper-class Qing Dynasty women.
* [[SiblingRivalry Half-Sibling Rivalry]]: Jia Huan and Baoyu. Jia Huan goes as far as to spill candle wax in Baoyu's eyes, in an attempt to blind him.
* HoistByHisOwnPetard: Xia Jingui, wife of [[UpperClassTwit Xue Pan]]. After Xiangling, a maid in her household, inadvertently spots [[YourCheatingHeart her (a married woman herself) with a stranger]] and causes said stranger to run off, [[DisproportionateRetribution Jingui decides to poison Xiangling in revenge]]. She sees her opportunity when Xiangling falls ill and feigns care, with the intent of secretly putting poison in the bowl of soup she is to give to Xiangling. The maid Jingui is tasked with serving Xiangling, unaware of Jingui's plot and indignant at the idea of serving a fellow maid, decides to play a prank as payback by secretly adding a large number of salt into the bowl of soup meant for Xiangling when no one is looking. When Jingui pours some soup into her own bowl and proceeds to swap bowls, [[SpannerInTheWorks the maid, upon spotting Jingui's action and fearful of reprimands from Jingui for drinking the much-too-salty soup, quickly swaps the bowls right back without anyone else noticing, not knowing Jingui has put poison into the bowl she gives to Xiangling]]. Jingui and Xiangling both drink the soup... with [[KarmicDeath Jingui being killed by the very poison she intends for Xiangling]].
* IGaveMyWord: [[spoiler:Baoyu tells Daiyu, on two separate occasions: "Should you die, I'll become a monk." [[CassandraTruth Both times, Daiyu doesn't believe him.]] [[DownerEnding Guess what he does at the end, after Daiyu has died for some time already...]]]]
* IllGirl: Lin Daiyu. Wang Xifeng as well, for a few chapters. [[spoiler:Both do not survive their conditions.]]
%%* IncestIsRelative
* KarmicDeath:
** This is what happens to one of the men who lust after Wang Xifeng. After he is rejected, he falls hopelessly ill, but is given a chance to recover when a passing monk hands him a magic mirror. He is told to never look at the front, and must keep looking at the back of the mirror, at a terrifying picture of a skeleton. If he succeeds for a week, then he will be cured of his lust. He doesn't succeed, as the front of the mirror keeps drawing him into a sexual fantasy of him and Wang Xifeng, which ultimately kills him.
** Second Sister You as well, to an extent. Wang Xifeng plans to kill her, but never does the killing herself. The most she does is manipulate the people around Second Sister You, and [[DrivenToSuicide lets events play out]].
** Xia Jingui, [[DisproportionateRetribution who tries to poison Xiangling for inadvertently breaking up her potential tryst]], [[HoistByHisOwnPetard ends up accidentally killing herself with said poison]].
* KillEmAll: Or most of them. Many characters are just ruined, without actually dying.
* KissingCousins: Jia Baoyu is first cousins with both girls.
* LoadsAndLoadsOfCharacters: Over ''four hundred'' of 'em, most of them female.
* LoveTriangle: Jia Baoyu, Lin Daiyu and Xue Baochai.
* MarryThemAll:
** Jia Zheng has Lady Wang (Baoyu's mum), Concubine Zhao, and Concubine Zhou.
** Jia Lang, who by nature is something of a HaremSeeker. He is the husband of Wang Xifeng and Second Sister You.
* MeaningfulName:
** Baoyu means "precious jade", a reference to his previous state as a sentient stone.
** Also, many of the characters have names that are homophones of meaningful words or phrases.
** Many of the ''locations'' in the novel also have meaningful names. It's sometimes intentional on the part of the characters, sometimes not.
** It might also be relevant to note that Baoyu shares a character from his name with both Daiyu and Baochai.
%%* MultigenerationalHousehold
* PenName: Everyone in the first poetry club that Baoyu, Daiyu, Baochai, and several other girls establish gets one.
* PluckyComicRelief: Granny Liu, whose rural lifestyle causes her to behave in ways that bring amusement out of many around her when she visits the Jia household. [[spoiler:She ends up as a ChekhovsGunman near the end of the novel, as she provides shelter to Qiaojie when the latter runs away from Jia Huan when he schemes to sell her, bringing her back into the Jia household after his scheme is thwarted.]]
%%* ReincarnationRomance
* RuleThirtyFour: The novel has been adapted, among other things, into a hentai online game.
%%* ShrinkingViolet: Jia Yingchun
%%* TeamMom: Baochai
* TheResenter: Concubine Zhao. Justifiable, as she only wants the best for her two children, but her position as secondary wife means she's not highly regarded by almost everyone else. However, given her {{Jerkass}} nature, it's also not surprising why she's not a favourite in the household. She's depicted as unintelligent, lacking in class and tact, driven by jealously, and shows open resentment towards the higher standing members of the household, including her stepson Baoyu, as well as getting into very heated arguments with her daughter. Plus, she makes a huge fuss out of nothing on several occasions, and even resorts to using black magic at one point, which almost kills Baoyu and Xifeng.
* SpeakIllOfTheDead:
** Near the end of the investigation on Xia Jingui's death, the maid tasked with serving Xiangling, after confessing what she had done during the event that ultimately ends with Jingui dead (see HoistByHisOwnPetard above for more details) and piecing things together, ends her confession by stating that Jingui had it coming. No one present blames her for saying it.
** When Jia Huan's scheme of having Qiaojie (a maternal niece of his) sold off is foiled, some time after the passing of Concubine Zhao (his mother), Lady Wang has this to say to Jia Huan: "[[YourMom Concubine Zhao was such a bastard]], the seed she left behind is just as bad!" Jia Huan, who knows better than to talk back at his stepmother, is left licking the wounds to his ego her words inflict on him.
* {{Tomboy}}: Shi Xiangyun. As an occasional WholesomeCrossdresser, she also looks good in boys' clothes.
%%* TooGoodForThisSinfulEarth: Miaoyu.
%%* {{Tsundere}}: Daiyu.
%%** Also Daiyu's "double", Qingwen.
* UnwantedHarem: Bao-yu, despite being eccentric and effeminate, is surrounded by beautiful women who are somewhat interested in him.
** Hardly unwanted! Baoyu is well-known, even a bit notorious, for being very fond of pretty young ladies. And one of his eccentricities is being almost nauseatingly nice to girls.
* UpperClassTwit: Xue Pan, who coasts by like a bully without a job due to being the son of a mother whose sister is a matriarch of the wealthy Jia household. Late in the story, it takes him being embroiled in a manslaughter charge he tried to hush up via bribery before [[BreakTheHaughty he shows signs of humility]].
* {{Yandere}}: Wang Xifeng, who also has some StepfordSmiler tendencies.
* YourMom: Lady Wang combines this with SpeakIllOfTheDead when scolding Jia Huan (see above).