- Published: November 14, 2022
- Updated: November 14, 2022
- Language: English
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“ Voice of Imprisoned Woman” in Girish Karnard’s “ Nagmandala” Ms. Seema Sharma, Research Scholar Banasthali University Abstract Girish Karnad austmerely scrutinizes the unvoiced mental and physical pain of a woman whose conscious and unconscious mind is conditioned so completely that she sees herself and the world around her only in a way man would like her to see through the play “ Nagmandala”. Starting from the ancient to the modern era, woman is just like clay in the hands of the patriarchal society.
The work of woman be underpaid, she is being demolished and her grief is unheard and is caged in the shackles of the four walls of the male dominant society. Whether it is house or any working place this fragmentary flower is not allowed to blossom as per her wish. Her desires are viciously walled in social conventions. For Indian Society, marriage is a social convention that makes a woman complete. For her home is said to be an expression of her freedom: it is her domain.
The impediments in her life being misjudged and her voice and grief being restrained, she revolves in the squall of her problems. Karnad closely dissects the unaccepted condition of woman where she has no choice but to accept the pain of loneliness. It avails to rise up the question so as to why she is thrown in the gloom and doom of this vicious hand and portrays the overall image of a caged woman taking Rani as its core. Old is gold” the coinage of this clause clearly depicts the picture of the artistic ornaments in each and every sphere of literature starting from Shakespeare to Shaw. A playwright, poet, actor, director, critic, translator and cultural administrator; a man who has been rightly called the “ renaissance man”; whose celebrity is based on decades of prolific and consistent output on native soil, belongs to a generation that has produced Dharamveer Bharati, Mohan Rakesh and Vijay Tendulker who have created a national theatre for modern India is Girish Karnad.
His compulsive return to and reinterpretation of mythical and oral tradition and his determined demystification of his dominant beliefs and practices drew him to be the most significant playwright of the post- independence Indian literature. Considerably influenced by Shakespeare and naturalistic drama of Henrik Ibsen, he acknowledged India of the Fifties and Sixties that surfaced two streams of thought in all walks of life—adoption of new modernistic techniques, a legacy of the colonial rule and adherence to the rich cultural past of the country.
Foregrounding the ornate magnetism of the past he says: “ If Indian English drama wishes to go ahead, it must go back first, that is, only a purposeful return to its own roots in the rich tradition of ancient Indian drama, both in Sanskrit and folk drama in Prakrits, can help it shed its lean and pale look, and increase its artistic hemoglobin count, and make it cease to be the ‘ sick man’ of Indian English Literature. ” With artistic framework of myth and folklore, the play comes with the fact that although society seems to uphold traditional values, it also has the right of questioning these values.
By making Rani almost a pure embodiment of feminine simplicity, innocence, and powerlessness, the play closely depicts the inner pain of an unvoiced woman whom the social conventions have forcefully locked in the four walls. Marriage for her becomes loss of the secure world of childhood and parental love, and she has to reimagine that world in her fantasies merely to keep herself from psychic collapse. As an ill tempered tyrannical, two-dimensional husband, Appanna rapidly reduces her daily life to a featureless existence without companionship or community.
Rani’s latent power as a wife and mother also remains unrealized. In the shackles of social conventions and bitterness she gets habituated to act like a doll. Rani, if translated in English is termed as “ Queen” dominant power but all of a sudden she is thrashed in the tears and fears of Appanna’s thrown as he utters: “ Well, then, I’ll be back tomorrow at noon. Keep my lunch ready. I shall eat and go. ” (Rani looks at him nonplussed. He pays no attention to her, goes out, shuts the door, locks it from the outside and goes away. She runs to the door, pushes it, finds it locked, peers out of the barred window) (P. : 254) This dramatic masterpiece of Karnad takes out the inner pain and bitterness of woman, her frustration when her desires are not fulfilled. New home, new man and new experience for her was like wonderland. She was unable to understand the situation in which she was being trapped. Silent, constant, still, perplexed and talking to her indistinctly her words faded in the dusk of agony. She endeavors to discover her individuality by seeking refuge in dreams, fairy tales and fantasies to escape the sordid reality of her existence. At an age where the ypical fantasy would be a Sultan or prince coming on horseback, Rani’s flight of the imagination transports her to a seventh heaven where her parents wait for her. For the woman, the home is said be an expression of her freedom: it is her domain. However, Rani is imprisoned in her own house by her spouse in a routine manner that baffles others with the door locked from the outside. She is confined within the doors of seclusion where her body and mind collapses in the waves of “ confinement, violence, regulation and communication of the victimized gender-self”.
She suffers silently in helplessness. Being sandwiched between the four walls of domesticity, between illusion and reality, between the mask and the face, the long smothered wail of her incarcerated psyche is seen when she says: “ Listen—please— (She does not know what is happening, stands perplexed. She cannot even weep. She goes and sits in a corner of her room. Talks to herself indistinctly. Her words become distinct as the lights dim). “ Listen (fumbling for words) Listen— I feel Frightened— alone at night—” Appanna without any care says: What is there to be scared of? Just keep to yourself. No one will bother you. Rice! (Pause) Please you could— Look I don’t like idle chatter. Do as you are told, you understand? ” (P. g: 254) Appanna being complacent, insensitive, and uncaring husband, Rani lives a life of dull and drab matrimonial relationship with mostly no emotion and love on the part of the husband: “ Rani, where have you been? (No answer. ) I said, where have you been? Rani, answer me! (Moves aside so she can go in. but the moment she steps in, Appanna slaps her hard. Rani collapses to the floor………). ” (P. : 266) She is deprived for her sexual, personal and familial needs. She leads a secluded life. Her husband Appanna does not consummate the marriage with her, but prefers to spend his nights with his concubine. This brutal ignorance is not properly articulated by her as she never finds a chance to voice her pain. Left unheard, unspoken and untouched she is treated like an insect. The incident and situation surrounding her discloses the fact that liberty if not given makes a person thoughtless, he/she looses creativity and is unable to judge the happenings. Same thing is found in case of Rani.
An age when a daughter is married and is isolated from the love of her parents, assumes her in- laws home to be that colorful and charming world where she can fulfill all her desires without any restriction. But this seemed to be a dream for Rani. A traditional-bound woman, she is taught to honour and obey the commands of her husband suffocating her feelings. The feeling and emotion of her towards Appanna shows a traditional Indian woman whose mind is tied in the boundaries of social norms. She bears her responsibility as a wife. She tries two times to make Appanna in her favour by giving the magical roots.
But when she makes another paste of root, looking at the colour of the paste she does not dare to give him. She thinks of its bad effect on her husband’s body as she says: “ Oh my god! What horrible mess is this? Blood. Perhaps poison. Shall I serve him this? … I know it is not dangerous? Suppose something happens to my husband? What will my fate be? That little piece made him ill. Who knows…?…. No, no. Forgive me, God. This is evil. I was about to commit a crime. ” (P. g. : 266) Leaving a life without any future and identity, she is in search of her love and identity as a wife.
Being thrown in the storm of isolation, she gets into the squall of Naga’s love that comes to her in the form of her husband. Getting away from remoteness and breaking her silence with the questions of Naga she starts feeling comfortable and her fear and tear takes the form of ecstasy. “ Let it. I don’t feel afraid any more, with you beside me. ” (P. g. : 273) Naga makes up all that Rani had missed out in her married life. It is only society to judge the things and according to it the situation through which Rani passes is against the laws and orders of the society as well as tradition.
All of a sudden when she gets into problem and her love making becomes a pain for her as she tells Naga: “ Yes, there is. Give me poison instead. Kill me right here. At least I’ll be spared the humiliation. Won’t the cobra bite me the moment I touch it? I’ll lie like your dog and your mangoose. ” (P. g. : 286). It is a sin committed by her in the eyes of social orders and this can be portrayed very well when she is pregnant and real Appanna questions her: “ Aren’t you ashamed to admit it, you harlot? I locked you in, and yet you managed to find a lover!
Tell me who it is. Who did you go to with your sari off? ” (P. g. : 284) These incidents give an authentic view to Rani’s imprisoned voice. The voice of imprisoned woman is seen when Rani is taken out in front of the panch. All of a sudden when she is blamed for her virginity and is told to prove herself she yells: “ Yes, my husband and this king cobra. Except for these two I have not touched any of the male sex. Nor have I allowed any other male to touch me. If I lie, let the cobra bite me. ” (P. g. : 296 ) She does not want to be abused amidst the people.
But she faces the snake ordeal before the people. Unspoken and unheard woman (Rani) finds within herself a new courage and confidence. She is able to face the society in a very valiant manner. She takes out her agony and pain when she has been liberated to speak. Naga’s love and respect for her makes her realize of the minimum rights and gives her strength to ask for what she needs and also question when she feels necessary. The slow and steady disappearance of her over tolerant behavior and the release of her female body from her locked up tolerant soul brings her close to empowerment.
When given a chance to prove herself she speaks very boldly without any tear and fear. There are certain things to be noted on the basis of imprisoned woman: 1. Liberty and Equality, which inspired the writers of Romantic Period, can be equally applicable to Karnad’s core character Rani. When emancipated she is able to speak the truth. She very confidently faces the judicial members of the village and gives answers to all those questions raised by her husband as well as the villagers. She shows her honesty by accepting the things which she had faced during her imprisonment. 2.
The caged life of a woman can take a disastrous form from starting till end as in the case of Rani. A woman losses her creativity. Today, world in the 21st century has undergone a tremendous change with woman holding a good position in each and every sphere. She has taken the thrown in the patriarchal society but still she has been made the centre of exploitation anonymously. Whether working or not, she has been made tacit in the social conventions. A girl is said to be the ornament of her family and holds its prestige. Her mind is governed by the social ideologies with parents as her guide.
And the masters of the family guide her according to the social norms. This social norm till today engrosses woman’s freedom in many ways making social orders to be its nucleus. Works Cited: Naik, M. K. “ Cinderella Still: Recent Indian English Drama” Littcrit. Volume 27, Number 1; 2, June-Dec. 2001. Matrix of Gender Issues; Trivedi Bhavana ; Jain Sangeeta; DPH, PVT Limited (2010), Pg: 19 The Plays of Girish Karnad, A Study in Existentialism, Sarup Books Publishers PVT. LTD (2010) Pg: 60, 83, 84, 85 ; 86. Collected Plays, Volume One, Girish Karnad, With an Introduction by Aprna Bhargava Dharwadker.
Oxford University Press, (2005). Indian English Drama, A Kaleidoscopic View, Gopichand. P ; Nagasuseela. P, Sarup Books Publishers PVT. LTD http://www. publicacions. ub. edu/revistes/bells15/documentos/71. pdf 11/10/12. http://shodhganga. inflibnet. ac. in/bitstream/10603/2092/9/09_chapter%203. pdf 12/10/12 http://anilpinto. blogspot. in/2010/03/semiotic-study-of-girish-karnads. html 24/10/12 http://voices. yahoo. com/feminism-girish-karnads-nagamandala-1913134. html 12/10/12 http://www. the-criterion. com/V2/n3/Krishna. pdf 14/10/12.
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