It is impossible for a man to learn what he thinks he already knows.



It is impossible for a man to learn what he thinks he already knows.

Never stop learning because life never stop Teaching

Never stop learning because life never stop Teaching

Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Influence of the Norman Conquest on English language

Influence of the Norman Conquest on English language

The English language we now know would not have been the same if it was not for the events that happened in 1066. In 1066, the Duke of Normandy, William sailed across the British

Channel. He challenged King Harold of England in the struggle for the English throne. After winning the battle of Hastings William was crowned king of England and the Norman Kingdom

was established. Norman-French became the language of the English court. At the beginning French was spoken only by the Normans but soon through intermarriage, English men learnt

French. Some 10,000 French words were taken into English language during the Middle English period and about 75% of them are still in use.

One of the most obvious changes that occurred after the Norman conquest was that of the language: the Anglo-Norman. When William the Conqueror was crowned as king of England,

Anglo-Norman became the language of the court, the administration, and culture. English was demoted to more common and unprestigious usages. Anglo Norman was instated as the

language of the ruling classes, and it would be so until about three centuries later. But not only the upper classes used French, merchants who travelled to and from the channel, and those

who wanted to belong to these groups, or have a relationship with them, had to learn the language.

These events marked the beginning of Middle English, and had an incredible effect in the way English is spoken nowadays. Before the Norman conquest, Latin had been a minor influence

on English, but at this stage, some 30000 words entered the English language, that is, about one third of the total vocabulary. But vocabulary was not the only thing that changed in the

English language. While Old English had been an extremely inflected language, it now had lost most of its inflections.

The influence of the Normans can be illustrated by looking at two words, beef and cow. Beef, commonly eaten by the aristocracy, derives from the Anglo-Norman, while the Anglo-Saxon

commoners, who tended the cattle, retained the Germanic cow. Many legal terms, such as indict, jury, and verdict have Anglo-Norman roots because the Normans ran the courts. This

split, where words commonly used by the aristocracy have Romantic roots and words frequently used by the Anglo-Saxon commoners have Germanic roots, can be seen in many instances.

In vocabulary, about 10000 words entered the English language at this stage, and more than a third of today’s PdE (Present-day English) words are related to those Anglo-Norman ME

(Middle English) words.

English pronunciation also changed. The fricative sounds [f], [s], [Ɵ] (as in thin), and [ʃ] (shin), French influence helped to distinguish their voiced counterparts [v], [z], [] (the), and [ƺ]

(mirage), and also contributed the diphthong [oi] (boy).

Grammar was also influenced by this phenomenon especially in the word order. While Old English (and PdE in most of the occasions) had an Adj + N order, some expressions like

secretary general, changed into the French word order, that is, N + Adj.

English has also added some words and idioms that are purely French, and that are used nowadays.

Since French-speaking Normans took control over the church and the court of London. A largest number of words borrowed by the government, spiritual and ecclesiastical (religious)

services. As example – state, royal (roial), exile (exil), rebel, noble, peer, prince, princess, justice, army (armee), navy (navie), enemy (enemi), battle, soldier, spy (verb), combat

(verb) and more. French words also borrowed in English art, culture, and fashion as music, poet (poete), prose, romance, pen, paper, grammar, noun, gender, pain, blue, diamond,

dance (verb), melody, image, beauty, remedy, poison, joy, poor, nice, etc. Many of the above words are different from modern French in use or pronunciation or spelling.

Thus, the linguistic situation in Britain after the Conquest was complex. French was the native language of a minority of a few thousand speakers, but a minority with influence out of all

proportion to their numbers because they controlled the political, ecclesiastical, economic, and cultural life of the nation.

Influence of Latin on Old English

Influence of Latin on Old English

Latin , the lingua franca of Europe before the rise of English, influenced the development of Old English more than any other non-West Germanic language with which Old English came

into contact. Most scholars divide the influence of Latin chronologically into three time periods. The first time period concerns such influence as occurred on the continent prior to the

arrival of Anglo-Saxons in England and which arose from contacts between West-Germanic speaking peoples and Latin speakers. The second period of influence spans from the arrival of

the Anglo-Saxons in England up to their Christianization ca. 600/650. The last period of influence spans from the time of Christianization up to the arrival of the Normans in 1066.

The most readily apparent influence that Latin had on Old English concerns the use of the Latin alphabet. Prior to the Christianization of England, what little writing there was, was

written with runic letters. Collectively these letters comprised the futharc alphabet (called so after its first six letters). Through the influence of Irish insular script, Old English scribes

adopted the Latin alphabet. They did so with only slight modification and the retention of certain runic letters. Modifications included the use of Latin with a line through it, <ð> ("eth"),

to represent both /q / and /ð/. Somewhat later, they also used the rune thorn, <þ>, to represent these two phonemes. Finally, they incorporated the rune wynn, < >, to represent /w/.

It is more difficult to determine Latin influence on Old English syntax. Naturally, our knowledge of Old English syntax is hindered by the general paucity of extant Old English texts.

Furthermore, many of the surviving Old English texts are translations of Latin texts, and even when they are not, many nonetheless reflect a clear dependence on Latin models.

Consequently, it is difficult to account for the syntactical irregularities of Old English texts with any certainty. Such irregularities could represent the influence of Latin or – just as likely –

an otherwise poorly evidenced aspect of Old English syntax. Nonetheless, scholars agree that certain constructions – whether native to Old English or not - likely did find wider

distribution in Old English through the influence of Latin than would otherwise have occurred. Such was likely the case, for example, with the Old English "dative absolute" construction

as modeled on the Latin "ablative absolute." While this construction appears rarely in the conservative prose of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, it is ubiquitous in the highly Latinate

translation of Bede’s Ecclesiastical History.

Not surprisingly, Latin held the most pervasive influence on Old English in the area of vocabulary. Moreover, this sphere of influence provides the clearest index of the changing

relationship between Old English and Latin speakers. In total approximately 450 Old English words, mostly nouns, were borrowed from Latin . Around 170 of these entered the Old English

lexicon during the continental period . These words pertain mostly to plants, household items, clothing and building materials. As such, they represent the influence of Vulgar (i.e.

spoken) Latin rather than Classical (i.e. literate) Latin. It is uncertain how many words date from the second period of Latin influence. In general though, scholars maintain that there are

slightly fewer borrowings dating from this period. With the exception of a comparatively larger number of words having to do with religion and learning, borrowings from this period

pertain to the same subject matter as those of the first period . In strong contrast with the two preceding periods, the third period shows a marked increase in words concerning religion

and learning. The influx of such words clearly reflects the influence of the literate, CL culture associated with the Church following the Christianization of the Anglo-Saxons. In addition

to direct borrowings, Latin also influenced the Old English lexicon by occasioning the formation of semantic loans, loan translations (or calques) and loan creations. Consider, for example,

the semantic loan Old English cniht for Latin discipulus, in which native Old English cniht, "boy" or "servant," assumes the additional sense of Latin discipulus, "disciple." Such translations

are abundant in the Old English lexicon. Equally prevalent are loan translations, in which a Latin compound word is translated using morphologically equivalent native elements: e.g. Old

English foreberan < Latin praeferre. Loan creations are also numerous. Like loan translations, loan creations translate the Latin word using native elements but with greater morphological

freedom: e.g. Old English restedæg for Latin sabbatum.

The overall abundance of semantic loans, loan translations and loan creations suggests a final and more general truth concerning the influence of Latin on Old English. Despite the relatively

extensive influence of Latin on Old English, Old English clearly shows a strong tendency to rely on native resources. That is to say, given the linguistic conditions of Old English period,

one would expect Latin to have exerted a far greater influence than in fact our knowledge of Old English suggests.

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Clytemnestra in Agamemnon:

Clytemnestra in Agamemnon: How far does Clytemnestra draw the readers’ sympathy in Aeschylus’ Agamemnon?

Agamemnon, the first play of the ‘Oresteian Trilogy’ is considered the best of all Greek dramas. Aeschylus was the first successful tragedian and his ‘Oresteia’ was the only surviving

trilogy of the ancient world of which the first play ‘Agamemnon’ is considered the greatest of all Greek dramas. The primary theme of the ‘Oresteia’ is the continual destruction,

inherited from generation to generation but as an individual play the subject of ‘Agamemnon’ is the vengeance which Clytemnestra takes upon Agamemnon because, he sacrificed their

daughter, Iphigenia, at Aulis ten years previously. Clytemnestra is often given the bloody attributes for this murder. But if we take the matter neutrally, we shall find that she is not

altogether responsible for this murder. Clytemnestra’s taking vengeance can be justified on several grounds, because the things that contributed most in killing Agamemnon are the

hereditary guilt, Agamemnon’s murder of ‘Iphigenia’, pride , conceited elements in his character etc. It is Agamemnon and his fate which are mostly responsible for his tragedy in the

play Agamemnon.

Let’s start our discussion with the analysis of Clytemnestra’s personality. In Aeschylus' tragedy Agamemnon the character of Clytemnestra is portrayed as strong willed woman. This

characteristic is not necessarily typical of women of her time. As a result, the reader must take a deeper look into the understanding of Clytemnestra. In Agamemnon she dominates the

action. Her most important characteristic is like the watchman calls it, male strength of heart. She is a strong woman, and her strength is evident on many occasions is the play.

Clytemnestra is Agamemnon's wife and has ruled Argos in his absence. She plans his murder with ruthless determination, and feels no guilt after his death; she is convinced of her own

rectitude and of the justice of killing the man who killed her daughter. She is, a sympathetic character in many respects.

In the first place, Clytemnestra is not a murderess but she is an executioner. She is the personification of an old curse which haunts over the house of Atreus. Atreus , son of Pelops, had a

brother named Thyestes. Atreus and Thyestes quarreled about succession to the throne of Argos. Moreover, Thyestes seduced Atreus’s wife. So, Atreus wanted to make Thyestes commit

some unclear or sacrilegious act which would render him permanently taboo in the eyes of the Argine citizens. He secretly murdered Thyestes’ two young sons, and served their flesh to

Thyestes at a banquet. Atreus himself got away with the murder; but such debts are not forgotten. His eldest son  Agamemnon inherited the throne of Argos, and with it the curse that

had settled on the family. So, sooner or later Agamemnon must die to pay for the sin of his father. There is a ‘Fate’ above which determines the life of everyman. And Clytemnestra

during her debate with the chorus puts forward this argument that she is not one to be blamed for the murder. In her words-

                     Dressed in my form, a phantom
                     of vengeance, old and bitter
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
                    Has poured this blood in payment.

Through these exulted words Clytemnestra tries to convince the chorus that an old curse ‘dressed in her form’ has poured this blood. And we, the audience see the ruin which the gods,

in their mysterious will, sent down upon the house of Atreus stands visible in Clytemnestra.

But apart form this hereditary guilt, Agamemnon’s own wrongdoing is also no less responsible for his downfall. When Agamemnon found himself faced with a fearful dilemma, he made

the wrong choice- to sacrifice his daughter Iphigenia at Aulis. ‘Fate’ always confronts man with a choice, and if man chooses wrongly the sin in his. Agamemnon chooses wrongly, so the

sin in his. In his ‘Agamemnon’ Aeschylus gives us a different kind of justice, which can be called the ‘Avenging justice’, the successful and triumphant wrongdoing by the strong against

the helpless finally becomes intolerable to the gods. The shedder of much blood does not escape the eyes of the gods and the wrath and power of the house of Atreus are no defense

against the indignant pity of the gods. So, to pay for the sin of slaying Iphigenia Agamemnon must die- the slayer must be slain.

The weaknesses in Agamemnon’s character are also to an outstanding degree responsible for his tragedy. Pride or conceit is the striking characteristic in Agamemnon’s character, which

according to the ancient belief, invites the envy and wrath of heaven. Agamemnon’s pride is spectacularly symbolized by his triumphant entrance in his chariot with followers and

fanfare, and in his subsequent walking on the red-carpet which greatly evokes the disgust and hatred of men and the vengeance of the gods.

Besides these arguments, there are other grounds on which the Clytemnestra’s murder can be considered with sympathy. We can look at Clytemnestra from two different perspectives

namely, as a mother and as an individual woman. When we consider Clytemnestra as a mother, it becomes our duty to defend her. She appears at her superhuman height when she

comes forth with the bodies of Agamemnon and Cassandra. She confesses her former deception with no shame or compunction. And in the impassioned clash with the chorus these

plausible words come out of Clytemnestra-

                        The guile I used to kill him
   He used himself the first,
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
When on my virgin daughter
His savage sword descended,
My tears in rivers ran.    
Clytemnestra’s defense is a mother’s defense. Her defense is convincing, as such a cold-blooded murder can be compensated only by another cold-blooded murder. Agamemnon slew her

daughter and at the same time violated the motherly feelings. So, we can rightly say that the penalty matches the deed.

We can also consider Clytemnestra from another perspective namely as a Grecian woman. We see the whole magnificent file of the heroines in Greek tragedies such as Clytemnestra,

Artigone, Polysena, Jocasta, Phaedra and even Medea. They were free women, free in thought and spirit. But the difference between Clytemnestra and other women of that age lies in

the fact that she had more individuality and personality than any of the women. But Agamemnon, the muddle-headed king gave little heed to this facet of Clytemnestra. Agamemnon

cheated Clytemnestra when he had taken Iphigenia from her bosom by giving her a false promise. So when her individuality is at stake, Clytemnestra takes up the weapon for

Agamemnon. She appears as a monster for violating her womanness and motherly feelings.

However, it can be argued that Clytemnestra’s illicit relation with Aegisthus induced her to kill Agamemnon. But in growing the relationship up Agamemnon’s contributions are no less

responsible. Aegisthus honoured Clytemnestra and her personality. On the other hand, Agamemnon wronged her. Agamemnon’s indifference to Clytemnestra’s personality was responsible

for her perverted behavior. It is hard to say whether she would kill Agamemnon, if she had proper assessment of her personality from him.

Concluding our discussion we can say that we have no strong ground to blame Clytemnestra as a cruel murderess. She lays before us certain premises which contain the truth. She speaks

of the revenge for Iphigenia’s death and all feel convinced. She draws a grim picture of the Furies of Erinnys, hovering over the house of Atreus. We feel once again that Agamemnon

must die sooner and later because of the hereditary guilt. And finally, we are told of two of the concubines of Agamemnon, namely Chyseis and Cassandra, we again lend our moral

support to Clytemnestra.




Significance of the Red Carpet episode in Aschylus' Agamemnon

Agamemnon is the first play of the trilogy the Oresteia, which is considered Aeschylus' greatest work, and perhaps the greatest Greek tragedy. Of the three plays in the trilogy,

Agamemnon contains the strongest command of both language and characterization.  ‘The Red Carpet episode’ is the most significant scene in the play .It plays a leading role in the play,

Agamemnon” and constitutes the climax of the play.

 A red carpet refers to a red colored rug, usually fairly long, that would be rolled out so that various dignitaries would receive what was considered a suitable welcome. Initially, as in

plays like Aeschylus’ 5th century BCE play Agamemnon the carpet may have been purple rather than red, although there are conflicting views on translation. In Aeschylus’ play,

Agamemnon’s wife Clytemnestra lays down a carpet, red or purple; to trick her husband into thinking he’s getting a suitable welcome before she murders him. Agamemnon does speak of

his suspicion and the temptation to anger the Gods by such treatment. Similar to the red carpet is the idea of strewing rose petals on the ground so that the feet of various dignitaries,

royals, or others needn’t touch the ground with their feet.

While there’s a dispute about carpet color in the Agamemnon, it’s quite likely that purple carpets would have been more standard than red Ancient Greece and Rome. Purple was the

color from Ancient Greece that was associated with royalty, with Tyrian purple in Ancient Greece one of the most expensive dyes to purchase. So early red carpets were more than likely

purple carpets."

In the play Agamemnon by Aeschylus, Agamemnon has left his wife, Clytemnestra, to rule his country while he fights the Trojan War, and he returns expecting a loving welcome.

Ambition makes him sacrifice his daughter, Iphigenia, and leave his country to help another. Pride causes him to yield to his wife, walk on the purple carpet, and disrespect the gods.In

the tragedy Agamemnon the character of Clytemnestra is portrayed as strong willed woman.

 Clytemnestra was profoundly shocked at the sacrifice of her beloved daughter, Iphigenia. Clytemnestra, for obvious reasons, could not appreciate this. She was madly and desperately in

love with Aegisthus during her husband’s long absence. Here she must engineer her husband’s death by any means, fair or foul. She was all the more provoked when she was told that

Agamemnon had brought Cassandra, the lovely princess of Troy, as his concubine. For long ten years she waited, and at last the much-sought hour had arrived. It was a grim and tense

moment .

It was Clytemnestra, who had ordered the Watchman to look for a light. It was her    plan to arrange for a chain of light from Troy to Argos. Anybody might imagine that Clytemnestra

had planned all this on such a grand scale in order to extend a hearty welcome to her husband. It was, however, all contrary to popular imagination. She was determined to slay her

husband at the earliest opportunity. As soon as she would see the light, she could know that Agamemnon was first approaching. She would not let thing lying down. She must avenge the

sacrifice of Iphigenia. Beside herself with joy, she kindled all the alter-flames, and burnt incense.

In the speech of welcome, Clytemnestra was at once rhetorical and hypocritically submissive .Doing every thing strictly according to her plan, she turned to her husband to get down.

Clytemnestra was slowly but cautiously tempting the unwary husband to the trap. The red carpet was laid, and Agamemnon should be asked to tread upon it. A mortal, whatever might be

his earthly rank and position, must not walk upon the red carpet. To walk on the red carpet was an act of effrontery, an act of sacrilege defying the authority of the gods. Anybody doing

it was charged with hubris or pride. Clytemnestra would take infinite pains to persuade Agamemnon to walk on the red carpet. Agamemnon willy-nilly would become a sinner, and that

would justify Clytemnestra to murder him with no plot on her soul. Strictly in accordance with the ancient manners, Clytemnestra should have waited to receive her husband. Had she

been really happy to be united with her husband after years, she would break out first.

But she deferred it to the later part of her address. Agamemnon entered triumphantly at the head of a procession. In another chariot was Cassandra, his concubine. The whole city was

ablaze with the fire of sacrifice.  Clytemnestra was determined to lead Agamemnon to the height of pride. She stood silent for her opportunity.  She must persuade him to commit an

overt act of pride which would symbolize the sin he was about to expiate. That is the meaning of the sacred tapestries on which he was about to tread.   The chorus knows full well that

humility was not Agamemnon’s strong point .

Clytemnestra appealed to her husband to step down from the chariot. She spread Red Carpet on the ground for her husband to walk upon. Perhaps Agamemnon had a shrewd suspicion

that his wife was leading him to a trap. That is why he completely ignored her request at first. He, for a while, suffered from the chastisement of hubris. He was getting confirmed in his

view that he was being duped. His eloquent speech on modesty and humility should, in the fitness of things, stop Clytemnestra’s mouth. But as his wife she knew the stuff her husband

was of made of pride was in his blood, and that atoned his hamartia and mochtheria, his tragic flaw and moral lapse.

Hamartia is an unintentional error, while Mochtheria is a conscious act. Agamemnon was thoroughly conscious that what he was doing .Yet the persuasion from his wife brought about his

temporary deviation. In fact, it was momentary insanity, and her thought that he was no more a mortal, but as great as a Olympian. Clytemnestra was steadily gaining ground. Agamemnon

was no more a match for her , Humility was not deeply ingrained in Agamemnon, and he gave in .He was unmasked and his hubris, lying dominant asserted itself. He was so long hesitant

only because he did not like to spoil the rich carpet and tapestries by walking on it with dust- stained shoes on. Clytemnestra could understand that her husband was simply posing, when

he said;“Honour me as a man ,not as a god”Clytemnwstra at once changed her tactics like an astute politician. She was thoroughly satisfied that he gradually yielding. In the worldly duel

Clytemnestra was winner. Agamemnon asked facetiously:” Is this a battle in which you care to win?”Clytemnesra replied with levity: come, let me triumph on the taker of Troy”

Agamemnon stepped upon the Red carpet and invited his own doom.

 Agamemnon’s weaknesses in character include a lack of knowledge, careless ambition, avarice, egotism, and pride. Agamemnon’s flaws lead to errors in judgment, as shown in the

sacrifice of Iphigenia and the walk on purple. Pride causes him to yield to his wife otherwise he needs not to yield.

Use of Irony in Synge’s The Playboy of the Western World

Use of Irony in Synge’s The Playboy of the Western World

At the highest intellectual level, we have the use of irony in writing a literary work .This may be inherent in the language, where we find the incongruous linking of holy terms with

unholy actions: “Marcus Quin, God rest him, got six months for maiming ewes and he a great warrant to tell stories of holy terms with unholy actions: “ Marcus Quin, God rest him, got six

months for maiming ewes and he a great warrant to tell stories of holy Ireland” (p.17); or, again: “Pegeen; Is it killed your father?Playboy: With the help of God I did surely ad that the

Holy Immaulate Mother may intercede for his soul.”

More generally, the Catholic Church comes in for some hard knocks, whether through the absurd strictness and narrow orthodoxy of Father Reilly, or through the apparent failures of the

faithful to understand his teaching. The most contemptible character in the play, Shawn Keogh, is also , outwardly at least, the most pious; whereas the more spirited Pegeen and widow

Quin are prepared to question, even to mock, ecclesiastical authority. “ Stop tormenting me with Father Reilly” (p.17), says Pegeen to Shawn or, again, “Go on, then, to Father Reilly

and let him put you in the holy brotherhoods” (p.27). The Widow Quin shows her independence from the spiritual adviser more sarcastically: “It isn’t fitting, says the priesteen” (p.32).

The abundant use of holy names has already been commented on. Sara Tanse’s misconception of the function of confession went deeper: “When you’d be ashamed this place, going up

winter and summer with nothing worth while to confess at all”.

The attitude to excessive drinking is not spared. Old Mahon’s descriptions of his own excesses are presented as an exploit (p.62) while Michael James’s idea of good wake is one where

“there were five men, aye, and six men stretched out retching speechless on the holy stones.”(p.66)

Finally the double-think of the people’s reaction to the law and its apparatus is constantly evoked: “the peelers is….decent, droughty poor fellows” (p.26); “the juries……selling

judgments of the English law”(p.41). Law-breaking is often a feat to be admired, respect for the authorities a matter of expediency, rather than of principle.

It should not be concluded that The Playboy is a satire on Irish moral life; but the range of comedy has something for all tastes, from broad farce to skilful irony. Very often the different

levels of comedy meet and mingle to the delight of all.

The Irish audiences of the time were not largely mistaken in thinking that The Playboy of the Western World was an attack on the Irish character. They were wrong only in reaching

violently to the attack. Synge in this play made fun of certain aspects of the Irish character and the Irish mentality of his day. Such criticism of a nation is often made by authors in their

literary works. Satire and irony are freely employed by authors to attack living individuals and whole communities or groups of people. Dryden and Swift are outstanding examples of

authors who made use of the weapons of irony and satire to attack their cotemporaries and even the nation to which they belonged. Synge was therefore exercising his right as an

author to expose some of the absurdities, faults, and weakness of his countrymen. (He himself was an Irishman). The Irish audiences should have viewed The Playboy with tolerance and

good humor. It is noteworthy that Synge’s criticism of the Irish people in this play is very subtle, but the Irish audiences were quick to perceive the criticism which was largely implied

and covert and only occasionally open or overt.

An Attack on the Conventional Father-Daughter Relationship

The Playboy attacks some of the accepted values of the settled life of the Irish people of that time. It ridicules certain aspects of Irish domestic life, Irish social life, ad Irish religious

life. It is first of all an attack on the conventional kind of relationship existing to submit to the authority of their parents, especially their father, unquestioningly. Now, Synge seems to

challenge this aspect of the domestic life of his time. In the very beginning, we find Pegeen complaining that her father is bent upon going to attend a wake and leaving her alone in the

shebeen for the night. Pegeen feels that it is not right for her father to leave her alone during the night when he is well aware that there are certain rowdy elements in that region and

when she apprehends trouble from itinerant tinkers and cu-throat fellows in khaki. She also complains that her father has not provided her with a pot—boy to help her in her duties in

the shebeen and also to stand by her when there is some trouble from any intruders. Her father, however, takes the matter very lightly. He tells her that a pot-boy is hard to find and

that he is not going to make a proclamation through a town-crier of Castlebar that he needs a pot-boy. As for her feeling of insecurity, the utmost that he is willing to do for her is to

suggest to Shawn that he should spend the night in the shebeen, a suggestion which gives rise to a lot of comedy in Act I. When her father says that she is a “queer” daughter to expect

him to come back home during the night after he has taken liquor, she replies that he is a “queer” father to be leaving her alone for the twelve hours of the night. Thus there is a clash

between father and daughter, though the clash is a very mild one because of the fact that Michael is a jovial and happy-go-lucky kind of man.

An attack on the customs of arranged Marriage

Then Synge seems to be attacking ironically of course, the custom of arranged marriages in Ireland of the time. Pegeen is engaged to be married to Shawn, but it is obvious that the

engagement has been taken place not because she fell in love with him, but because her father found Shawn to be a man of substance and because Shawn had promised to give him a

herd of bullocks. Subsequently, when Pegeen falls in love with Christy and tells her father that she has made up her mind to marry that young fellow and not Shawn, her father becomes

furious and says that she is “a heathen daughter” to give him such a shock especially when he is already feeling overwhelmed by the excessive liquor that he had consumed at the wake.

It is only because Shawn refuses to feel jealous of Christy and because he proves himself a thorough coward by refusing to fight Christy that Michael feels compelled to give his consent

to Pegeen’s marrying Christy. It is another matter that events take a different turn, and Peggen is unable to marry Christy.

The Unsatisfactory relationship between Christy and his Father

The comic exposure of this, unsatisfactory relationship between fathers and their children is even more marked in the case of Christy and his father. In the course of his account of his

life in the native village, while talking to Pegeen, Christy tells her that his father used to ill-treat him and used to force him to work too hard, that his father was a heavy drunkard who

would drink for weeks together and throw stones at the stars, that all Christy’s brothers and sisters used to curse their father who was in the habit of constantly swearing like a military

man, and that the old man was often locked  up in jail or in a lunatic asylum. Later, Old Mahon has a good deal to say against Christy, accusing the young man of being a good-for-nothing,

worthless fellow who did no work but was a “lier on walls” and a “talker of folly”. In the course of a dispute, Christy had hit his father with a spade and the blow seemed to have killed

the old man. Later we find that the old man had not died ad that he has now come in search of his son in order to “destroy” him for the attack which he had made upon his old father.

Thus the relations between father and son have been extremely unpleasant, and both are full of grievances against each other. It is only at the end that the two become reconciled.

An Unsuitable Wife Proposed for Christy by his Father

In the case of Christy also, Synge exposes in a comic means the undesirability of an arranged marriage. In Act II Christy tells the village girls and Widow Quin that his father wanted him to

marry Widow Casey, a woman of forty-five, bulky, lame, blind of one eye, a woman of loose morals, “a walking terror from beyond the hills.” Christy adds that this woman had suckled

him for six weeks when he was born, “and she a hag this day with a tongue on her has the crows and sea-birds scattered.” Christy’s account is very amusing and is part of the comedy of

the play, but it also brings home to us the point that Old Mahon was acting in a most arbitrary manner in asking his son to get married to Widow Casey. Christy also tells his listeners that

his father had certain selfish motives in wanting him to marry that particular woman. It was Christy’s refusal to marry her that had preoccupied the quarrel between him and his father

ad had led Christy to attack the old man who had tried to hit him first with a scythe.

An Attack on the Irish People’s Sheltering a Murderer

Then the pay contains also an oblique attack on the Irish people for their strange attitude towards a parricide. The glorification of Christy by Michael, Pegeen, and the others seems to us

to be most irrational. Synge has told us that the story of this play was based o an actual incident pertaining to some people in one of the Aran Islands giving shelter to a criminal. Now, it

is possible for us to interpret the glorification of Christy by the people of Mayo have been as a satire on the mentality of those people. The people of Mayo have been leading a life of

monotony and boredom. Besides, they seem to be very tolerant of violence and even brutality as is clear from Pegeen’s praise for a fellow who had “knocked the eye” from a police

constable and for a fellow who used to maim ewes. To us, it seems both objectionable and ridiculous that a man should be praised for his capacity to inflit an injury on a policeman or to

cripple dumb animals. Therefore when Christy receives plenty of praise from Philly ad Jimmy and afterwards from the village girls, Widow Quin, etc., just because he had killed his

father with a single blow of the spade, we are both amused and disturbed. The attitude of the people of Mayo towards Christy’s murder of his father is by no means commendable. The

author is obviously poking fun at all these people including Pegeen who is found praising Christy to the skies, “a man fit to be holding his head high with the wonders of the world.” It is

another matter that, in Act III, when Christy once again “murders” his father, this time in the presence of the people, they react differently to his action, turning hostile to him and tying

him up in order to hand him over o the police. But even this change in their attitude seems to be a satirical comment on their inconsistency. Pegeen’s remark that there is “a big gap

between a gallous story and a dirty deed” is hardly a rational explanation of this change.

A Satirical Attack on religious Narrow-mindedness

The Playboy contains also a subtle attack on religious narrow-mindedness ad on false piety. Shawn is so “virtuous” and “pious” that he refuses to spend a night alone with an unmarried

girl in a shebeen even to protect her. He may thus appear to be a model rectitude. But this over-scrupulous attitude makes him appear absurd, and the audience would no doubt roar

with laughter at his refusal to spend the night with Pegeen because of the objections that Father Reilly might afterwards raise. The comedy of this situation is heightened by Shawn’s

managing to slip away from Michael’s hold and running out of the Shebeen, leaving his coat in the hands of Michael. Shawn’s behavior at this time is most funny and Michael makes us

laugh still more when he points out to Pegeen the absurdity of Shawn by assuring her that, when she is married to that fellow, she would not have to keep a watch on his conduct even if

he spends a lot of his time in the company of young girls. What Michael means is that Shawn is the kind of man who will never prove unfaithful to his wife. Indeed, Shawn’s subservience

to Father Reilly is made to appear extremely preposterous and highly comic. About a dozen times Shawn names the priest, invoking his authority and exhibiting his reverence for the

Church. All this devotion on the part of Shawn to the priest, and his compliance with the priest’s moral injunctions, are made to appear comic and contemptible. In this way Synge makes

fun of excessive religiosity and exaggerated piety.

A Satire on Excessive Drinking

Synge seems also to be attacking, again in a comic manner, the evil of excessive drinking. We have a number of heavy drunkards in the play. They are Michael James, Philly, James, and

Old Mahon. The chief reason why Michael and his friends are keen to attend the wake is that plenty of free liquor flows there. Next morning Jimmy and Philly, who are already semi-

drunk, are seen searching for some liquor in the cupboards of the shebeen, and Michael comes home singing in a state of intoxication. Towards the end, when Jimmy and Philly feel

afraid of handling Christy, Shawn scolds them for their feeling nervous in going near Christy. On this occasion, he again invokes the authority of Father Reilly, so that his remark becomes

comic even though it has much sense in it. Says he: “Isn’t it true for Father Reilly that all drink’s a curse that has the lot of you so shaky and uncertain now?” This remark has considerable

truth in it, because excessive drinking certainly makes a man shaky and uncertain. Then there is Old Mahon about whom Christy says that he used to drink for weeks and then, getting up

at dawn, used to go out into the yard “as naked as an ash-tree in the moon of May,” in order to throw clods at the stars in the sky. Old Mahon himself tells Widow Quin that on one

occasion he drank so much in the company of the Limerick girls that he had almost become a paralic. Both Christy’s account of his father’s drunkenness and Old Mahon’s own account of

this drunkenness are a satire on the evil of drinking.

A Satirical Attack on the attitude to English Policemen  

Synge also seems to be making fun of the attitude of the Irish people towards the English policemen who were in charge of law and order in Ireland of the time to which this time

pertains. Pegeen describes the “peelers” or the police constables in very contemptuous terms, and so does Michael. Speaking to Christy, Michael says that the peelers in this place are

decent, thirsty, poor fellows who would not touch even “a cur dog,” much less arrest a dangerous murderer like Christy. May be, Synge shared this attitude of contempt towards the

English policemen who were regarded as aliens and foreigners by the Irish and to whom the people at large were bitterly hostile.

Widow Quin’s Murder of Her Husband

Finally, there are satirical touches in the portrayal of Widow Quin who is believed to have murdered her husband and who, on several occasions, admits that she had “destroyed” her

man and buried her children. Now this insistence on Widow Quin’s criminal action might have some purpose behind it. Widow Quin herself shows no sense of guilt at all. In fact, she

refers unashamedly to her action in having killed her husband. The village girls are also quite tolerant towards her. It is only Pegeen who condemns her but perhaps even Pegeen does so

because Widow Quin has become her rival for Christy’s affections. Perhaps Synge seems to imply that Widow Quin’s action in attacking her husband was not, after all, very reprehensible

because the fault might have been that of the husband. Under certain circumstances, if a woman hits her husband, she may be justified. There is nothing to show that Widow Quin’s

intention in hitting her man was to murder him.  

A Marxist Reading of Maupassant’s Story 'The Diamond Necklace'

A Marxist Reading of Maupassant’s Story 'The Diamond Necklace'

Literary theories are lenses to look at a literary text through. Here I will try to read Guy De Maupassant’s “The Diamond Necklace” from Marxist perspective. A Marxist reading of the story

provides us to look into this short story from a Marxist point of view that means how Karl Marx and Frederic Engels’s Marxist theory implies on this text. Economic condition, according to

Marxist theory, determines one’s class and also affects the life of that class in a society. The ultimate result of this class distinction is class conflict where one class is treated as inferior

or ‘other’ and dominated by the views or perspectives of ‘Other’ that means the superior class. Exactly same thing happens in the short story “The Diamond Necklace”.  The story

illustrates social and economic inequality in general and particularly in a proletariat woman’s life, Mathilde, and how much it costs in her livings when she wishes to be perfect on

bourgeoisies’ eyes.  Apart from this, the story also portrays the way that a family’s own budget in an economy can make or break their way of life. The story seems to support the

Marxist claim that people are mere creations of social or economic circumstance.


Prior to going our textual analysis, we must have a detailed idea about Marxism as well as Marxist literary criticism. Marxism is the movement founded by Karl Marx and Frederic Engels in

the mid nineteenth century. It is based upon the idea that a society is composed of the proletariat, or working class, and the bourgeoisie, or upper class. It proposes that the bourgeoisie

is very separated from the working class and bends the rules in order keep them at the bottom of the social ladder. The aim of Maxism is to bring about a classless society, based on the

common ownership of the means of production, distribution and exchange. So with this knowledge   it is a bit easier to see how to apply these ideals to literature.

When viewing a literary work from the point of view of the Marxist strategy, one considers the literature from all the aspects of economics. There are also some other things that should

be considered when we are going to analyze any literary text---

First of all, whether the text reflects or resists any dominant ideology, or it may both. Then we should identify the class of characters that they belong to. Here one thing should be

remembered that in the most important element to discover the effect that economic standing has on the characters. After that we can look into the evidence of class struggle or class

conflict and the way it affects in the livings of the characters. For example- the ultimate result of class struggle is alienation and fragmentation. So we should observe whether any

character suffers from alienation or fragmentation.

Marxist Reading of “The Diamond Necklace”:

Now with the above ideas let us analyze our text, “The Diamond Necklace”. After a close reading of the story from Marxist perspective, we see the underlying theme of the story is a

conflict between proletariat and bourgeoisie. On the surface level, the story seems to be just a tale of a woman who loses her necklace which she borrows from her friend and ultimately

suffers a lot for it. But a close reading of the story with Marx and Engel’s economic theories we find the story deals with the structure of capitalist society. The story starts out by

describing a woman namely Mathilde who should have been raised in a family that was very rich. However, she was born into a family of clerks that means she belongs to the proletariat

class. At the very beginning of the story by giving the description of extra-ordinary beauty of Mathilde the writer says that this woman by being born into this family “as if by a slip of

fate, into a family of clerks.”  We understand the meaning of this comment as we proceed further where we have come to know that as she was born in a middle class clerk family so

she has no chance of marrying any rich or distinguished husband who belongs to bourgeoisie class. Thus, at the beginning paragraph the writer intends to say that the distinction between

the classes, which is determined by economic condition, will not be merged.

The turning point of their life occurs when Mathilde’s husband comes home with the invitation to the ball, it is the day that starts their suffering for belonging to the lower class. Society

of that time said that in order to attend a ball one must be dressed gorgeously. Since Mathilde spends most of her time thinking about high class things, she sees no way she can attend

without having one of the best dresses and of course some jewelry. Their lack of funds, however, put her in the position that she must borrow some article of jewelry, specifically a

diamond necklace from one of her friend who belongs to bourgeoisie. Though the necklace was not made of real diamond, but her upper class friend do not bother to tell it or she

intentionally keeps it secrete from her lower class friend. She makes it seem as though it was real in order to make her place in society better. By doing this, this friend also sent

Mathilde and her husband to the lowest place in society.  So, we see though they are friends but still there is a class conflict between them which creates a mental distance.

Mathilde attends the ball and had a wonderful time. Howerver, when it comes time to leave she has to put on those old outside clothes. So she makes a hasty escape. It is the trends that

society’s upper class portrays that made the woman lose the necklace. Had she been comfortable with these people seeing her as she was, there would have been no rush and no losing

of the necklace. Soon more of the bourgeoisie’s ideals would come to ruin Mathilde’s way of life. After discovering that the necklace was gone for good, she conceals the truth from her

friend. As the friend belongs to high society so it seemes to Mathilde that if it is known that she loses this person’s necklace that she would be even further down the social ladder. So

because of these “rules” she decided to find a way to get a new one and it costs ten years to pay the money that borrowed order to purchase the replacement. These ten years are once

again taken by the upper class and their greedy way of getting repaid. It sent this couple to the lowest place in society.

Thus, the story is a wonderful piece for a Marxist reading, because here most of the characters are determined by the very material condition they are part of. Here we see how the

society get divided into two different classes on the basis of the means of production. The people living in the upper strata of the society also determine what is an excepted behavior

in a society. The  people living in the lower strata of the society find no other way except to blindly follow the rules determined by the economically privileged class. Thus, the young

couple is a victim of the rules, aesthetic values, and social norms of a society determined by a material condition that favours the economically wealthy class.

Role of Max in Richard Wright's Native Son

Role of Max in Richard Wright's Native Son

In Richard Wright’s Native Son, Boris Max, the communist attorney, is the mouthpiece of the writer. Wright the first protest novelist, in America, raised his voice against the racial

injustice that turned the black people into half human during the 1930s. He expresses all the themes of the novel through Max. Through Max, he describes the overall system of race and

class oppression in the United States.

Max, on behalf of the novelist, describes all the institutions of power in the country, the press, the courts, the legal system, the psychiatric profession, the housing market, the

entertainment, industry and other institutions as oppressive to the Blacks. But through Max, Wright expresses other two important issues. It’s through Max, we can understand the psyche

of Bigger better. And other factor is that Richard Wright wanted reconciliation between the lack and the white. So, Max appeals for reconciliation between the black and he white.

Like Bigger, Max feels a deep sense of exclusion from American society. As a Jew and a Communist, he suffers in myriad ways because American society is dictated by the prejudices of

the majority. Perhaps because of his own experiences living on the fringes of society, Max is willing and able to understand Bigger’s life story. He sympathizes with the idea that factors

outside of Bigger’s control created the conditions that caused Mary’s death. He makes a compelling argument for the judge that life inside prison would allow Bigger to live as a man

among equals for the first time in his life. Disappointed at his failure to convince the judge, Max takes on the burden to convince the governor to grant a stay of execution. He fails at

that, too. However, in the final scene, despite Max’s sense of failure, he does connect with Bigger. He is ultimately the one who helps Bigger see his worth as a human being, no matter

what he’s done or not done in the short time of his life.

Max tries to show the real cause of Bigger’s murder."Max uses blindness in his passionate argument to the judge, and this same blindness is a continuing theme throughout the book. Max

eloquently tells the judge that if he reacts only to Max's comments about the sufferings of Negroes, he will be "blinded" by feelings that prevent him from understanding reality and acting

accordingly. Max pleads, "Rather, I plead with you to see... an existence of men growing out of the soil prepared by the collective but blind will of a hundred million people" (Wright

328), and continues, "Your Honor, in our blindness we have so contrived and ordered the lives of men" (Wright 336). Thus, Max sees blindness in this instance is a threat to the state, along

with a threat to men's freedom."

Max is more vocal when Mr. Dalton is placed on the stand and he exposes the exorbitant rents and segregating practices and policies of the Dalton's South Side Realty Company. Dalton

admits that he simply assumed that blacks were happier living in their own neighborhoods and after he prides himself on helping his employees get an education, he admits that he has

never offered employment to any educated blacks.
Through Max we get psychology of Bigger.

When Max returns to see Bigger, Bigger tries to convince the lawyer that the case was already lost and that there is nothing that can be done. Max remains optimistic and he hopes that

Bigger will have some faith in him. Bigger sees that he is living in a No Man's Land and even as he answers the sum of Max's questions, he feels Max's condescension and feels distance.

Max focuses on Mary's rape and is puzzled when Bigger explains that he did not rape Mary, he did kill her by accident and he hated her even though she didn't do anything to him. As for

Bessie, Bigger explains that he neither loved nor hated her; his hate is reserved for whites mostly, because they "own every thing" and prevent him from being able to live freely. He is

told to "stay in a spot" and Bigger confesses that he was simply unable to live that sort of life adding that after committing the murders, he felt a sort of freedom that he had not


In his conversation, Bigger also explains that he is not religious and he would never let himself become so "poor" that he had to rely upon happiness in another world to guide him through

the present world. Bigger insists that he will never believe in God and then changes to topic to Mary Dalton, explaining that he had to kill her because "she was killing [him]." Bigger

rambles on to explain how the Communists and race leaders have done little for him, that even though he is too young to vote, he has already illegally signed up to vote for those who

paid him to do so. Max seeks to convince Bigger that he is different and Bigger is admittedly moved that Jan does not hate him. Max explains that the trial verdict will be delivered by a

judge and not by a jury and that Bigger will plead Guilty, rather than Not Guilty, hoping for life imprisonment rather than the death penalty.

Max defends Bigger (the black) in the court

After Buckley has roused the passions of the racist mob, Max decries the very racism and misplaced passion that fuel Buckley's unjust cries for "justice." Max argues that racism, fear and

the feudal relationship of Bigger to his landlord Daltons have all mitigated Bigger's motive. Max hopes that the judge might look beyond race prejudice and take a step in the direction of

a greater understanding of race in America. After making his case, Max tells Bigger that he did the best he could.
Buckley swiftly derides Max's rhetoric as Communist propaganda and proclaims that Bigger's death is the necessary thing for justice and humanity in America. If Bigger is not killed, the

law will have been mutilated and justice will have returned to the people void. Buckley maintains that the law is "holy" and that the court must "let law take its course."

But finally Max stays with Bigger to the last.The judge quickly sentences Bigger Thomas to death. At last, the mob becomes jubilant and they are sated because the judge has

accommodated justice by speeding the process of execution, as Bigger's appeal seems unlikely. Max is more perturbed than Bigger, who is to be executed "on or before midnight Friday,

March third." Bigger has tried to remain dispassionate but his spirit falters as his mind tries to sort out the reeling, whirlwind activity of the last few days. To recapitulate: On a Saturday,

Bigger learned that he would have a job as a chauffeur for a millionaire family; he takes the job after rejecting the temptation to rob Blum's deli. Early Sunday morning, Bigger returns

Mary Dalton to her home, accidentally suffocating her. Later Sunday, Bigger visits Bessie, forges a ransom note, discovers the "discovery" of Mary's earrings in the ash, returns to Bessie

and rapes and kills her. Monday, Bigger is on the run and he is caught that very night. His inquest is on a Tuesday, his trial is on a Wednesday, and his execution is to be "on or before

midnight," Friday.

Max is perturbed because he has little time to regroup and he is unable to convince the Governor to offer Bigger a commutation of sentence or stay of execution. After this final hope has

expired, Bigger knows that his life is drawing to a close and he emancipates himself from his emotional stress. He is a broken spirit, no doubt, but Bigger is increasingly introspective and

even if his reflections are to be faulted, he struggles to grow as much as he can before he dies. Max stays with Bigger for most of his final hours and the grim reality of Bigger's fate is

revealed not in his imminent death but in the details of his conversation with Max. When Bigger sees that Max is disappointed and guilty, he consoles the lawyer by confessing "I'm glad I

got to know you," which surprises Max considering the prejudices against Communist, Bigger's distrust of Jews and his fear of white people. Max tries to build solidarity with Bigger

through politics, explaining the similarities between Bigger's suffering as a black man and his own sufferings at the hands of anti-Semites.

Bigger is not interested in political solidarity and as he tries to explain what he is feeling he recalls his earlier conversations with Max. Max does not understand what Bigger is trying to

say and Bigger becomes frustrated and gives up his last hope of communicating. Uncharacteristically, Bigger is nagged by the thought and again, he tries to explain his "idea" to Max; he

needs to "make him know" what he has been trying to express for his whole life. He recounts an earlier conversation when Max asked Bigger the political questions regarding his hate and

fear of whites, his economic situation, etc. Bigger focuses on the question of "What would you have liked to do, if you were allowed to?" explaining to Max that nobody had ever asked

him what he wanted to do, and so he had never spent serious time contemplating a future. Even though he felt disconnected from humanity, Bigger felt like a human and Max's questions

helped Bigger realize how badly he wanted to live.

In Book Three, Wright varies his narrative structure. After two sections of Bigger's thoughts and actions being played off of each other, Book Three dedicates a large portion of the

section towards the courtroom scenes that depict Boris A. Max and David Buckley far more than Bigger. In contrast to Buckley's colorful prose and mob-inciting rhetoric, Max is a self-

righteous bore. His statement on Bigger's behalf is well over 10,000 words and much of this soliloquy was excised from the original 1940 edition of the novel. Max's speech is heavy with

communist theorizing and Wright certainly uses Max to forward some of his own theories. Bigger is the product of black oppression and killing him will only produce new Biggers and

more black violence. Max gives warning to the White. Here he is also the mouthpiece of the inarticulate Bigger.


A Feminist Critique of Kafka's 'Metamorphosis'

A Feminist Critique of Kafka's 'Metamorphosis'

Feminism is a movement for the equal social and political rights of women who are marginalized or ‘other’ in a patriarchal society. However, the emergence of feminist literary

criticism is one of the major developments in literary studies in the past forty years or so. Feminist literary criticism seeks to study and advocate the rights of women in the following

ways. Women are oppressed by patriarchy economically, politically, socially, and psychologically. Patriarchal ideology is the primary means by which they are kept so. I will first discuss

the main ideas of feminism and then three areas of feminist viewpoints according to the book Beginning Theory: An Introduction to Literary and Cultural Theory by Peter Barry.  After this

summary, I will illustrate the feminist approach by applying some of the theories to the short story “The Metamorphosis” by Franz Kafka.

Feminism based on the ideas that a woman is a vulnerable figure in a male dominated society where she can not express her willingness or unwillingness freely. No matter, whether a

woman lives in her father’s house or husband’s house she has to suffer a lot which ultimately focuses on the shelter less world. Before marriage a woman is dominated by her father and

after marriage the authority goes to the husband, so marriage is nothing but an exchange of masters.          

Now, Barry, in the third edition of his book, suggests that feminism center around three areas:  the role of theory, the role of language and the role of psychoanalysis.  Beginning with

the role of theory, Barry explains that there exist Anglo-American feminists and French feminists. Anglo-American feminists tend to be more skeptical about recent critical theory in using

it, than have the ‘French’ feminists, who have adopted a great deal of post-structuralist and psychoanalytic criticism.  The second point that Barry sites is the role of language. Some of

the French feminists and even some of the Anglo-American feminists believe that language itself is masculine and patriarchal, but according to Barry, they believe in the notion of

écriture feminine. The last area focuses on the role psychoanalysis should play in feminism. Barry notes that other feminist critics find that Lacan’s teachings were much more

“paralogical” or “feminine” and they do accept psychoanalysis.            

Now, Kafka’s “The Metamorphosis” has quite a lot to say about gender roles, especially when viewed upon through the keen eyes of feminism.
Feminist criticism criticizes the fact the traditionally women are given some definite roles in the society like they would be mild, soft, less adventurous, less productive etc. Here in the

book the writer’s portrayal of women is not free from this prejudice that has been in the consciousness of the people in both the Western and the Eastern societies.

It shows the feminine role is to provide food and a clean house by Grete and her mother. The male role is to work, support the family, and to control which is done by Gregor and his

father. Grete and her mother are marginalized or regarded as ‘others’ by the male family members. Grete is dominated by her father and brother. Grete does not get any scope to work

outside or live independently. Gregor does not wish that his sister will go outside and Grete has to obey it. After Gregor’s transforming into a bug Grete gets the scope to support family

and proves her individuality. But her family members see it from another feminist perspective that now to them, Grete is grown up enough to be married off. Now, she becomes a

commodity of marriage market.

Another important feminist reading of the text is Gregor’s transformation from animus to anima that means his metaphorical transformation from masculine to feminine. Gregor was the

only earning member of the family. Before his metamorphosis, he was animus that means dominative, active and decisive. But after his metamorphosis, he becomes anima which

indicates now he is feminine and passive. Here feminism does not related to sex rather to power.

Apart from the above discussion, now in order to better understand some of the many ideas of feminism we will look into the text from some other perspectives. For example, an

‘Anglo-American’ approach to the text examines the author’s biography and finds the connections between his own life and his writings.  We find that, Kafka wrote many letters to a

woman, writing of his own weaknesses and seeking strength from her—like Gregor’s debilitating(weak) condition and need for female caregivers.  Both Kafka’s and Gregor’s actions

suggest that they feel inadequate in their masculine roles and seek to live as women, but of course they can not.

Now, a looking from French feminism breaks down the text of the story like a post-structuralist study. In this regard we can mention a passage from Kafka’s story that describes Gregor’s

sister Grete.  For example, in this passage we come across the words “defiance” and “self-confidence” which suggest masculine qualities in Grete, although other words and phrases such

as “childish” and “romantic enthusiasm of girls her age” attributed to femininity.

To conclude, because of the many avenues by way of theory, language and psychoanalysis, feminism is a vibrant and ever-evolving way to critique literature.  One feminist may vary

from the other, but each will utilize their tools—whether they be post-structuralist or more liberal humanistic—to confront society’s views on sex and gender.


How does Prufrock in T.S Eliot's The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock personify a tormented observer, who is hesitant and unable to commit himself?

How does Prufrock in T.S Eliot's The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock personify a tormented observer, who is hesitant and unable to commit himself?

The poem 'The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock' is an examination of the tortured psyche of a prototypical modern man, who is over-educated, eloquent, neurotic, and emotionally

stilted. Prufrock, the poem's speaker, is the member of the cultured society of a modern city which may be London, Boston or any other. The hero is different from the traditional hero

of the love poems. He is entirely unheroic,a bundle of hesitations and indecisions.

At beginning of the poem he seems to be addressing a potential lover, with whom he would like to "force the moment to its crisis" by somehow consummating their relationship. But

Prufrock knows too much of life to "dare" an approach to the woman: In his mind he hears the comments others make about his inadequacies, and he chides himself for "presuming"

emotional interaction could be possible at all.

Eliot modernizes the form of dramatic monologue by removing the implied listeners and focusing on Prufrock's interiority and isolation. It is an internal debate in the mind of  Prufrock

between two sides of his personality and it is through this debate the poet has thrown light on the spiritual degeneracy of the speaker.

The poem opens with an epigram from Dante’s Inferno in which Guido de Montefeltro, who is consumed in flames as punishment for giving false counsel, confesses his shame because he

believes that it cannot be reported back on earth. In context, this excerpt is essentially Prufrock’s assurance that he can confide in his reader without fear of shame for what he is about

to disclose.

The poem with the speaker’s address to a person, supposed to be a woman. The time is evening and the sky looks like a ‘patient etherized’ upon a table. The expression ‘patient

etherized is a metaphysical conceit and serves here as an objective correlative to express the inner consciousness of the speaker. He is like an etherized patient, who has lost the power

of activity and has become inactive. The poet introduces some other imageries in the opening stanza such as "half-deserted streets" (4) reveal "one-night cheap hotels / And sawdust

restaurants" which evoke the picture of a sterile and deadly city. Although Eliot does not explore the sterility of the modern world as deeply here as he does in "The Wasteland" (1922),

the images are undeniably bleak and empty.

In the next stanza the poet shows the fog/cat, which seems to be looking in on the roomful of fashionable women "talking of Michelangelo" (13). Unable to enter, it lingers pathetically on

the outside of the house, and we can imagine Prufrock avoiding, yet desiring, physical contact in much the same way (albeit with far less agility). Eliot again uses an image of physical

debasement to explore Prufrock's self-pitying state; the cat goes down from the high windowpanes to the "corners of the evening" (17) to the "pools that stand in drains" (18), lets soot

from the high chimneys fall on its back (since it is lower down than the chimneys), then leaps from the terrace to the ground. While Eliot appreciated the dignity of cats, this particular

soot-blackened cat does not seem so dignified. Rather, the cat appears weak, non-confrontational, and afraid to enter the house. Moreover, Prufrock's prude-in-a-frock effeminacy

emerges through the cat, as felines generally have feminine associations.

Prufrock’s inability to act becomes even clearer in the next stanza in which he repeats ‘indeed there will be time’.It is the characteristic Hamletian indecision. He thinks that there will

be enough time to make the decision. Prufrock  is clearly a thinker, not a feeler, and his indecisive thoughts contribute directly to his paralysis. Prufrock's refrain "And indeed there will

be time" (23, 37) is an allusion to Metaphysical poet Andrew Marvell's "To His Coy Mistress" ("Had we but world enough, and time" [1]), in which the speaker urges his lady to speed up

their courtship.

Prufrock's social paralysis is diagnosed in the next stanza. The smallest action - descending stairs - is occasion for magnified self-scrutiny and the fear that he will "Disturb the universe"

(46). He continues asking himself questions about how to comport himself, but admits he will reverse these decisions soon. His inaction is constantly tied to the social world: "Should I,

after tea and cakes and ices, / Have the strength to force the moment to its crisis?" (79-80) The somewhat silly rhyme here underscores the absurdity of Prufrock's concerns. Yet Eliot

fleshes out Prufrock's character and makes his worries, however trivial, human. Prufrock twice refers to his balding head, describes his plain, middle-aged clothing, and draws us into his

point-of-view of the social world. He is a coward and does not have courage enough to face his lady. He is acutely conscious of his old age, of his baldness and of his thin body.

Prufrock knows the pros and cons of the upper class society and the party women.All his knowing makes him inactive.The triviality of the contemporary society is portrayed through the

line ‘I have measured out my life with coffee spoons. Modern life is passed in giving tea-parties in which there is too much frivolity and flippancy but little sense.

The perfume coming from the dresses of women stimulates his sense, but he can’t express his emotion and feels miserable. He knows the flirtations and tricks of the upper class women.

He has observed the lonely old man.Prufrock is bored with the triviality of life and with his own decision. He wishes that he were a sea-animal which catches its prey and rums swiftly

across the sea. He would like to escape his present surroundings.

Use of Mathematics in Descartes's Philosophy

Use of Mathematics in Descartes's Philosophy

Influence of Mathematics on Descartes

Descartes and Mathematics

René Descartes, the father and originator of modern philosophy, puts great emphasis on mathematics. Of the many men who have been famous as mathematicians and as philosophers,

Descartes was perhaps the most outstanding. Living in the first half of the 17th century, he was the father of analytic geometry and of modern philosophy.  Descartes, like all other

previous rationalists, holds the idea that reason is universal in human beings; that reason is the most important element in human nature; that reason is the only way to determine what is

morally right and good and what constitutes a good society.  But unlike all other rationalists, Descartes gives more emphasis on mathematics and believes that mathematics will help him

establish his rationalistic philosophy. This idea became the foundation for his way of thinking, and was to form the basis for all his works.

Descartes makes mathematics his model for the use of his reason. In his Discourse on Method, Descartes says: ’Of all who have sought for the truth in the sciences , it has been the

mathematicians alone who have been able to succeed in producing reasons which are evident and certain.’’ And it was the method of mathematics , using reason alone , Descartes

believes , which enabled the Polish astronomer Copernicus in the sixteenth century to revolutionize astronomy with his new heliocentric theory of the universe, and enabled the Italian

astronomer Galilio in the seventeenth century to provide the proof of the Copernican theory.

Mathematics is the method which Descartes the mathematician, himself the inventor of analytical geometry, wants to use for philosophy. Mathematics, he thinks, can clear up the

confusions and uncertainties of philosophy. The method of mathematics will gain the same clarity and certainty for philosophy  as for geometry and as the scientists have gained for

physics and astronomy. By using the method of mathematics, philosophy could achieve absolute certainty and could prove itself, as mathematics does, to my reason, to all human reason,

and be acknowledged as universally true. Philosophy could then reach   final and certain truth which would decisively end the disputes among the philosophers and the bitter controversy

raging between the Church and the scientists. Philosophic certainty would also bring about an end to the fear of the Inquisition under which scientists lived, the fear of being sentenced

to imprisonment or torture, the fear that Descartes himself had that he might suffer the same fate as Galileo.

Descartes talks about two mental operations namely intuition and deduction in his Rules for the Direction of the Mind. According to him true knowledge can be achieved by intuition and


Intuition: By intuition he means our understanding of self-evident principles, such as the axioms of geometry ( a straight line is the shortest distance between two points ; or things equal

to the same thing are equal to each other) or such as an arithmetic equation (3+2=5). These statements are self-evident in that they prove themselves to reason: To understand them is to

know that they are absolutely true; no rational mind can doubt them.

Deduction: By deduction he means orderly, logical reasoning or inference from self-evident propositions , as all of geometry is reasoned in strict order by deduction from its self-evident

axioms and postulates. The chief secret of method, says Descartes, is to arrange all facts into a deductive, logical system.

Thus, Descartes’s goal as a philosopher is to build a system of philosophy based upon intuition and deduction which will remain as certain and as imperishable as geometry. No

philosopher has ever made a bolder attempt to arrive at a philosophy of absolute truth. The entire series of the six meditations , day after day, is a single sustained effort to reconstruct

philosophy, to find for philosophy the certainty of a mathematical proof.

The Metaphorical Implications of ’digging’ in Seamus Heaney’s Poem ’Digging’

The Metaphorical Implications of ’digging’ in Seamus Heaney’s Poem ’Digging’

Digging ,written by  the famous Irish poet Seamus Heaney, is a metaphorical poem. The very title of the poem ’Digging’ bears the metaphorical implications. In this poem Heany is

exploring his ancestry and the roots from where he was brought up. With this poem he establishes many of the themes - a dichotomy of emotions, a questioning of his past and a sense

of alienation from his familly. As an autobiographical poem, here we find that the speaker is no one but Heany himself. Throughout the poem, the speaker feels a sense of longing for

those old days and expresses his constant regret that he is no longer able to follow his ancestors’ occupation as potato farmers. The poet reflects back on the glorious days when his

father and grandfather were in their prime. With full respect to his ancestors, the speaker chooses a different occupation from his ancestors as he believes that his occupation will be as

helpful for the world as his ancestors’ occuption.

The speaker realizes that he can never be as skilled with a spade as his father and grandfather.But he wants to dig and as a writer he intends to "dig" with his pen.So,his writing is one

kind of digging.It is the digging of his native culture and tradition in order to show it to the world. Heaney chooses writing professon in a period or environment where people do not

have any kind attitude to literary notions. Heaney attempts to break tradition to become a writer. Through this poem he attempts to explain his reasons.

 First of all, through the use of imagery and irony, Heany  communicates the overall theme of determination, the advantages of hard work, and the importance of loyalty to and respect

for one's family in his poem ’’Digging”. He looks through the window of his memory and describes the work of cultivation of his father and grand father. He believes tht they are the

real upholders of their family tradition and they do it perfectly for many years. His nostalgia reaches to the peak point  when he describes all the steps of his father and grandfather’s

activities regarding cultivation. He again and again thinks about his childhood spent in his mother land. His ancestors grew potatoes and scattered them and the poet picked them up. The

author uses a great amount of imagery in this poem to make the reader feel and understand what the speaker feels. These positive descriptions of things connected to his father's work

reveal the speaker's admiration, and even a bit of envy, towards his father's achievements. Thus the speaker expresses his passion, pride and respect to his ancestors and their


With giving full of respect and prestige  to the ancestors, now Heaney makes a comparison between the hard physical labour of his ancestors to his mental labour. By using an extended

metaphor of digging and roots in the poem, the poet gets back to his own identity, and where his family comes from. Although the narrator states that ‘I’ve no spade to follow men like

them’ the last lines of the poem, which reveals his new ‘spade’ which is the pen, and he will ‘dig with it’, or he will pass on the tradition with his writings. Thus poem is the

reconciliatory expression of an artist who will not follow his father and grandfather’s footsteps as a common laborer. It concerns his admiration for his father's and grandfather's skill at

digging, and his determination to use his chosen tool - his squat pen, snug as a gun.

To conclude, we can say the poem symbolises the changing face of Ireland, from a rural and backward country to a modern industrial nation. The author reflects on his childhood in rural

Ireland, where he and his brothers used to help collect potatoes for his father, and tells of his wish to carry on that family tradition in his own way with the full  respect for his heritage.

A Critical Appreciation of Quartet by Rabindranath Tagore

A Critical Appreciation of Quartet by Rabindranath Tagore

Quartet by Rabindranath Tagore. Jagmohan vs Harimohan. Passion vs reason. Eroticism vs asceticism. Sachish vs Sribilash. Ninibala and Damini.

Quartet, written by Rabindranath Tagore in 1915 and translated by Kaiser Haq in 1993, is  one of the masterpieces not only in South-Asian literature, but also in the world literature. It is a

story of archetypal conflicts---between reason and emotion, orthodoxy and liberalism, mysticism and passion. This is a brief work -more a novella than a full -length novel-but it contains

in an appealing narrative structure most of the representative themes of  Tgaore’s longer works. In this novel he drew both on the traditional culture of South Asia and that of Europe, a

typical tendency of the South Asian writers. The novel is philosophical, but about love and passion too, and also shot through with humour and irony.

The Bengali title of the novel, Chaturanga , refers to a four-handed board game a little like chess. The English title Quartet is a simplification, but both refer to a quartet of characters;

two young friends and the two young women they become involved with. However, there is no neat pairing off in couples. This novel actually revolves around two 'triangles'.

The title also alludes to the four chapter titles, each named after a different character: 'uncle'' ( the uncle of one of the young men), "Sachish' (the young man himself), 'Dhamani' (the

second of the two women), and 'Sribilash' (Sachish's friend, the narrator of the novel).

 The novel is set in Calcutta in the early part of the twentieth century, among upper-class, well-educated Indians. Sachin and Sribilash meet at school, and they soon strike up a fast

friendship. Sribilash is drawn to the brilliant charisma of  Sachish to the extent of idolizing him. When the narrator says in the second paragraph , 'I loved him', nothing homosexual is to

be implied: strong friendships among men are common in cultures where heterosexual friendships are rare.

It is a cliché to think of India as a land in which religion  saturates the very air; but many highly educated Indians were skeptical of religion even in the nineteenth century. Remember

that Tagore himself grew up in a religious atmosphere that criticized traditional pious practices and beliefs. The news that Sachish is an atheist is shocking to the other students, but not

bizarre. Tagore's deep distrust of traditional popular religion is reflected in the way he recounts the good deeds of the atheist characters and the meanness and cruelty of the religious


Sribilash's shock at discovering that the friend he regards as almost a god does not himself believe in gods is compounded by discovering that he belongs to a relatively lowly caste. The

thousands of castes are broadly divided into four groupings called varnas. Sribilash belongs to the highest varna, the Brahmins, but his friend belongs to the much lower goldsmith's caste

in the Vaisya varna.

If Sribilash were a traditional Hindu, he would have been expected to shun Sachish socially and especially to avoid eating with him. His mention that he was eventually to share a meal

with him is a daring statement of his willingness to let his friendship override his upbringing.

Tagore also satirizes traditional beliefs suggesting that as a boy he believed the eating of beef to be worse than murder. Traditional cow veneration has strongly prohibited the eating of

beef by Hindus for millennia. Here we notice the clash of bigotries, with the boys scorning Sachish's disbelief while they condemn the racial of their teacher.

Like another famous Indian writer , R.K.Narayan , Tagore was notably unhappy and unsuccessful at school, and both often portrayed teachers in a negative light. Tagore tried to

compensate for his own childhood experience by setting up a sort of experimental school called Santiniketan, to the support of which he devoted much of his life and income. Among its

students were two brilliant figures: the filmmaker Satajit Ray and Indira Gandhi, the prime minister of India.

The contemptuous Prof. Wilkins is of course an Englishman who considers himself exiled to an ignorant , backward corner of the world. His treatment of the boys reminds us of the

intimate ways in which the insults inflicted on India by colonialism were manifested in individual lives. Sachish battles Wilkins with weapons drawn from the teacher's own culture, the

writings of English rationalist and positivist philosophers. Sachish would have read such British writers as John Stuart Mill (1806- 73)and Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832) and Herbert Spencer

(1820-1903)-all mentioned by name in the novel. Positivists rejected traditional philosophy's obsession with the sort of abstract , spiritual issues traditionally called 'metaphysics'. They

dismissed religious questions as meaningless and tried to create a rational, scientific basis for philosophy. The Englishman scorns his Indian students, failing to see that one of them has

leaped beyond him by his insights into the teacher's own culture.

We then learn that Sachish has received his training in rationalism from the 'Unlce' of the chapter title; Jagmohan. Thomas Malthus (1766-1834) is famous for having been the first to

discuss in detail the possibility of humanity outgrowing its food supply, which explains how Jagmohan was influenced by reading him to avoid remarriage after his wife died; this is his

contribution to population control. The irony is that this childless man acts very much like a father to Sachish, much more so than the boy's own father , Harimohan. Certainly, they are

emotionally closer, as the father lavishes all his affection on the less worthy of his sons, Purandar.

Harimohan is a pious Hindu, but it is established from the beginning that he is a self-indulgent , self-centered man. He and Jagmohan are natural enemies, leading eventually to literally

divided household. Jagmohan's learning leads him to be compared to two famous English scholars. Thomas Babingon Macauly (1800-59) was an eminent historian who shaped the policies

that aimed at creating an English-influenced upper class in India to serve the empire; and vastly erudite Dr. Samuel Johnson (1709-84) was the creator of the first dictionary in English.

Kayastha who deal with the hides of dead animals, particularly insult cows, are among the most reviled of all in the traditional Hindu caste system; so it is not suprising that beef-eating

Muslims would have taken to the trade of tanning. Jogamohan's friendship with them is a spectacular insult to his pious Hindu relatives.

When Jagmohan scornfully claims that the drummers he has hired to irritate his relatives are celebrating the dumping of his god ,he is referring to a custom by which a religious festival

is concluded by dumping the image of the deity into the river to be dissolved back into the clay and straw of which it was made- a reminder to pious Hindus that the image is not the

god, but here suggestive of Jogmohan's impudent rejection of gods altogether.

Nanibala is typical of the young widows whose maltreatment was attacked by both his Brahmo relatives and Tagore himself. She is absolutely defenseless against Purindar, whose

exploitation of her is only worsened by the fact that he has seduced rather than merely raped her. As we all see , she actually loves the man who has ruined her life and cannot finally

accept rescue at the hands of anyone else. The first quartet of the novel is composed Nanibala, Purindar, Jagmohan and Sribilash. It would be noted that , at the time , a maid

impregnated by her master's son in Western countries would also have been summarily dismissed and abandoned to the streets. There is nothing exclusively Indian about Nanibala's fate.

 When Jagmohan decides to marry Nanibala to Sachish, we must remember he is going against the custom that rejected marriage with the widow. Although he may have selfish motives

, he is nevertheless behaving in a heroic , almost saintly manner.

Young women caught in the throes of passion usually die in Tagore's fiction. This conforms to the conventions of the time , which required that most female 'fallen women' , no matter

how guiltless , had to die,. It is a rare piece of Victorian or early-twentieth century fiction in  which a woman who comm9its adultery or has premarital sex, even against her will , is

allowed to survive at the end of the story. But Nanibala's fate is also a reflection of the author's obsession with the suicide of his sister-in-law, Kadambari. In Tagore's world , good

intentions and pious deeds cannot overcome the power of a fatal passion.

The opening of the second chapter, 'Sachish' , leaps from the death of Nanibala to that of Jagmohan, clearly a major turning point in the novel. Jagmohan's death results from an act of

even more saintly generous than his offer to marry Nanibala and it confirms the pattern established early on of contrasting the nonbeliever's goodness with his sanctimonious brother's


In Hindusim , a Brahmin male should go through four stages (ashram) in life : celibate religious student (brahmachari) , married householder (grihastha), forest dweller (vanaprashtha) ,

and finally wandering ascetic (sannyasi). After having raised a family including at least one son, the devout Brahmin can choose to retire to a simple life of contemplation in the forest

wilderness and eventually undertake the severe ascetic life of a beggar, ideally ultimately fasting to death.

Swami Lilananda, the guru who entrances Sachish and converts him is a sadhu devoted to the Vaishava practices surrounding Krishna as lover of Radha . His name refers to the rasa lila

(dance of love) that the god performs with his lovers. Countless pictures , songs and dances represent the religious ecstasy in which the worshippers  seek to become one with the god

they not only long for , but who equally longs for them. Rasa lila also refers to various erotic practices and arts that are reflected widely in South Asian poetry and fiction.

Although the metaphors of Vaishnavismm are intensely erotic, their practice is supposed to be severely ascetic. The rest of the novel consists of the pull of these two opposite ways of

life on the central characters, with eroticism embodied in the second of the young widows in the work: Damini. The second quartet is therefore formed of Sachish , Sribilash, the

swami, and Damini, with all three of the men being drawn powerfully to this young women who does not share the passivity and frailty of Nanibala (her name means literally ''puppet

made of cream,'' implying one who is too delicate for hard labour). Religion guides them to enact the role of Radha in relationship to Krishna, but their maleness betrays them as Damini

guilelessly plays the of Radha herself. It is not so much anything she does that is the problem; it is what she is: overwhelmingly attractive and charming.

The more serious object of Sachish's devotions is Brahman, here called ''the Universal Soul that inheres in all beings''. Hindus often believe that not only are all humans ultimately one, so

are all living beings, including animals don to the lowliest insect. The loss of individuality in a blending with the spiritual reality of Brahman is the ultimate goal of the devout;but

Sribilash is at first repelled by this idea. His Western-influenced education has led him to value his individuality far too much to find such a prospect attractive , and in this he is very like

Tagore. The writer saw the divine spirit living within all things; but he remained attached to the particular, the individual, and resisted the Hindu impulse to shrug off the claims of this

world for a larger nonphysical essence. In the context of his work, the conventional 'sin' of attachment is really a sign of loving devotion.

Damini acts as a distraction from their meditations without even being seen: the clink of her keys, the call of her voice to a maidservant, are enough to disturb the would-be ascetics

gathered around their guru. She is the victim of a husband besotted with religion, who sold her jewelry to give to Swami Lilananda. To appreciate what a shocking deed this is , one

must understand that although a woman usually has to bring a large dowry into a marriage , the jewelry she is given as a bride becomes her personal property, the evidence of her status

as a respectable married woman. her insurance against disaster, to be disposed of in only the most dire necessity, and never without her consent. Shibtosh's act in 'liberating' her from

the desire for gold is, as Tagore writes, ''brigandage in the name of spiritual devotion''. His death has left her not only widowed and unprotected, but impoverished. She depends for her

survival on the guru who had enriched himself at her expense, but at first she takes her vengeance by cooking tasteless food and allowing the milk to go sour.

Hindu widows are expected to shun all jewelry and makeup., dress in plain white garments and generally project an air of asexuality. Damini defiantly remains an earthy, desirable

woman. This is the more powerful side of her vengeance. Her abrupt conversation is most unexpected, and at first inexplicable, until we see she is drawn to join the Vaishnava worship

sessions more by the magnetic charms of Sachish than by those of Krishna.

   Soon they visit a cave. But Sachish finds that he cannot escape the lure of Domini in this cave, for she enters his dreams as a fearsome serpent, then in reality kneeling at his feet,

spreading her hair over him . She had earlier spread her hair over the Sawmi's feet, but we now understand where her true devotion is directed. Here failure to break through Sachish's

resistance causes her to abruptly abandon her devotions;but her essential goodness is illustrated by her rescue of the kite and puppy. She can bring the most ill-assorted creatures

together under her loving care. Having laid claim to her own will, she lays claim to her story as well: this third chapter of the novel is named for her.

When Guruji says of Damini that  she must die as the result of Krishna's hunt, he is speaking metaphorically; but the sinister foreshadowing of his words is inescapable. Sachish remains

seemingly invulnerable to her appeal. But the very objects of his devotion torment him by constantly reminding him of her.

When he tells Sribilash that Damini is a beguiling agent of nature designed to distract men from their devotions, he is drawing on the Hindu concept of Maya: the physical world of nature

that we mistakenly believe to be the ultimate reality , but in fact conceals the higher reality of Brahman. Maya is often personified as a woman, so Sachish is being very conventional

indeed. Sribilash is more in tune with Tagore's views in insisting, ''We must   row the boat of life in Nature's current''. Human beings live in the physical world , whether we believe in it

or not, and we ultimately have to deal with it on its own terms.

Damini does not surrender easily. She cleverly begins to devote herself to Sribilash, who gradually comes to understand that she does not love him, but is only using him to make Sachish

jealous. Anyone who has ever been caught in such game playing can understand the pain that the narrator must experience, fascinated by her nearness but unable to capture her heart;but

he does not express it openly. We are expected to understand without him pouring out his heart.

Damini also rebels by claiming the right to read modern secular literature- perhaps books like the one we are reading. Literature is frequently a vehicle of liberation for women in

Tagore's works, either as readers or as writers. Her eventual sacrifice of her reading is all the more poignant when we remember how fiercely she had fought for it.

Although Damini's quick switches of allegiance may seem at first bewildering, the key to the consistency in them is Sachish's attitude toward her. She can subject herself to the whims of

Guruji, whom she despises. The result is that she is thrust again as a troubling force into the center of Sachish's devotions, but ' he could no longer regard her as a metaphor for a

transcendental mood. Damini didn't embellish the songs any more;the songs embellished her''. In fact, Guruji has been displaced from the center of his cult by Damini: it is she whom

everyone looks to.
As if it were not enough to feature two abused women in one slim volume, the narrative is punctuated by the sensational story of Nabin's first wife's suicide after having arranged his

marriage to her sister. Tagore seems determined in this book to touch on a wide variety of issues relating to women's problems: arranged marriages, spousal abuse, rape, discrimination

against widows and polygamy.

The 'postscript' to Damini seems at first to be one of those abrupt leaps forward commented on earlier , but this turns out to be a sort of 'flash forward'', which will keep us intrigued

until the end of the novel to find out how it will end.

Sribilash defiantly clings to the 'householder' stage we have earlier spoken of as the mode of perfect fulfillment for him. He goes beyond even the typical young man in insisting that he

and his bride go into marriage with their eyes wide open. It was traditionally considered unseemly for the bride-to-be to look boldly in the face of her proposed groom before marriage,

and in deal arranged weddings the first clear look the groom has of the bride is during the ceremony. Even couples who have not been so circumspect during the courtship, which

amounts mostly to very public negotiation between the two families , enact this highly romantic moment at the ceremony.

The attitude expressed here is in contrast very Tagorean; fierce, open love of the world, embraced without reserve. Unfortunately for Sribilash, Damini does not feel the same toward

him. It quickly becomes clear that he is second best in her heart- but Sachish , whom she prefers , will not embrace her in his quest for purity of spirit. His resistance to her is not

entirely pure, however, as Damini clearly states when Sribilash unwarily says that those preoccupied with their spirits do not even notice women. Damini understands that the extreme

lengths to which Sachish goes to resist her only reveal the strength of the fascination she exercise over him, but she also understands she will never have him.

In a sense, Sribalash can never really have her either, because her heart belongs to Sachish. Sachish can only embrace her by rejecting her embraces, turning her in his mind into a

formless spirit into whose darkness he walks along the riverbank. In the end, Damini finds that the only loving thing she can do for him is to do as he asks and walk away from him.

Unfortunately , this proud woman has to sacrifice her own self-esteem and accept his image of her as dangerously seductive force. It is not clear whether in choosing to join herself to

Sribilash she is taking refuge from the world or committing emotional suicide. Her despair is interrupted by a brief premarriage ''honeymoon'' period in which she at last recognizes

Sribilash's good qualities: but her anxiety to have Sachish at the ceremony and to keep him near afterward make clear that she has not gotten over him.

Her longing finally consumes her, and she yearns for the shore where Sachish so memorably rejected her, which now represents death. She makes the ritual gesture of 'taking the dust'

from her husband's feet as she leaves this life, suggesting she will be his fully only in some future existence, an existence we know Sribilash does not believe in. Like so many of Tagore's

love stories , this one has ended tragically.

The novel has no simple lessons to touch. No one forms an ideal marriage. No one attitude toward religion proves fully satisfactory. Friendship and love have been at their most intense

among these characters and the result has been heartache for all of them. A traditional Hindu conclusion would have stressed the need to move on, along the path of renunciation; but

Tagore simply wants to show us the human heart, in all its fullness and make us sympathize with the suffering that fills so many lives here on earth.


Birans, Paul. Modern South Asian Literature in English. Westport: Greenwood press, 2003.

A Talented Digger.  Edited by Hena Maes-Jelinek et all. Amsterdam: Australia Coucil for the Arts, 1996.


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