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Theory of Literature: Ren Wellek

A Resume of Theory of Literature by Ren Wellek and Warren
We have to answer some basic questions when we study theory of literature. What is literature? What is literary study? Are they both different? What is the distinction? These questions are followed by the questions about the nature of literature, its functions, etc. Theory of literature, as much as possible, tries to answer these.

Deconstruction: Derrida

Heidegger meant by “the end of philosophy” the end of a philosophy rooted in metaphysics. He argued that the only real philosophical questions have to do with “being” (ontology) and that “transcendental” questions were meaningless. By the sixties, the notion of the “end of philosophy ” had developed into the notion that philosophy was nothing other than the ideology of the western ethos. The liberal humanist tradition presented a de facto situation (its own pre-eminence) as a de jure situation (its truth). In other words, it presented its traditional privilege as a natural superiority. Such a position is ideological.

Structuralism and its Application to Literary Theory

This is a collection of ideas from various authors gathered together by Professor John Lye for the use of his students. This document is copyright John Lye 1996, but may be freely used for non-proft purposes. If you have any suggestions for improvement, please mail me at

I. General Principles
1. Meaning occurs through difference: Meaning is not identification of the sign with object in the real world or with some pre-existent concept or essential reality; rather it is generated by difference among signs in a signifying system. For instance, the meaning of the words “woman” and “lady” are established by their relations to one another in a meaning-field. They both refer to a human female, but what constitutes “human” and what constitutes “female” are themselves established through difference, not identity with any essence, or ideal truth, or the like.

2. Relations among signs are of two sorts, contiguity and substitutability, the axes of combination and selection: hence the existence of all ‘grammars’, hence all substitutions, hence the ability to know something by something else, or by a part of it in some way — hence metonymy and metaphor. The conception of combination and selection provides the basis for an analysis of ‘literariness’ or ‘poeticality’ in the use, repetition and variation of sound patterns and combinations. It also provides keys to the most fundamental elements of culture.

3. Structuralism notes that much of our imaginative world is structured of, and structured by, binary oppositions (being/nothingness, hot/cold, culture/nature); these oppositions structure meaning, and one can describe fields of cultural thought, or topoi, by describing the binary sets which compose them. As an illustration, here is a binary set for the monstrous

4. Structuralism forms the basis for semiotics, the study of signs: a sign is a union of signifier and signified, and is anything that stands for anything else (or, as Umberto Eco put it, a sign is anything that can be used to lie).

5. Central too to semiotics is the idea of codes, which give signs context — cultural codes, literary codes, etc. The study of semiotics and of codes opens up literary study to cultural study, and expands the resources of the critic in discussing the meaning of texts. Structuralism, says, Genette, “is a study of the cultural construction or identification of meaning according to the relations of signs that constitute the meaning-spectrum of the culture.”

6. Some signs carry with them larger cultural meanings, usually very general; these are called, by Roland Barthes, “myths”, or second-order signifiers. Anything can be a myth. For example, two-story pillars supporting the portico of a house are a mythic signifier of wealth and elegance.

7. Structuralism introduces the idea of the ‘subject’, as opposed to the idea of the individual as a stable indivisible ego. Toquote from Kaja Silverman in The Subject of Semiotics,

The term ‘subject’ foregrounds the relationship between ethnology, psychoanalysis, and semiotics. It helps us to conceive of human reality as a construction, as the product of signifying activities which are both culturally specific and generally unconscious. The category of the subject thus calls into question the notions both of the private, and of a self synonymous with consciousness. It suggests that even desire is culturally instigated, and hence collective; and it de-centers consciousness, relegating it….to a purely receptive capacity. Finally, by drawing attention to the divisions which separate one area of psychic activity from another, the term ‘subject’ challenges the value of stability attributed to the individual.

The value of the conception is that it allows us to ‘open up’, conceptually, the inner world of humans, to see the relation of human experience to cultural experience, to talk cogently of meaning as something that is structured into our ‘selves’.

There is no attempt here to challenge the meaningfulness of persons; there is an attempt to dethrone the ideology of the ego, the idea that the self is an eternal, indivisible essence, and an attempt to redefine what it is to be a person. The self is, like other things, signified and culturally constructed. Post-structuralism, in particular, will insist that the subject is de-centered.

8. The conception of the constructed subject opens up the borders between the conscious and the unconscious. The unconscious itself is not some strange, impenetrable realm of private meaning but is constructed through the sign-systems and through the repressions of the culture. Both the self and the unconscious are cultural constructs.

9. In the view of structuralism our knowledge of ‘reality’ is not only coded but also conventional, that is, structured by and through conventions, made up of signs and signifying practices. This is known as “the social construction of reality.”

10. There is, then, in structuralism, a coherent connection among the conceptions of reality, the social, the individual, the unconscious: they are all composed of the same signs, codes and conventions, all working according to similar laws.

II. Structuralism, culture and texts
  1.  Structuralism enables both the reading of texts and the reading of cultures: through semiotics, structuralism leads us to see everything as ‘textual’, that is, composed of signs, governed by conventions of meaning, ordered according to a pattern of relationships.
  2. Structuralism enables us to approach texts historically or trans-culturally in a disciplined way. Whenever we have to look more objectively, when we are transversing barriers of time, say, or of culture or interest, then the structural method, the search for principles of order, coherence and meaning, become dominant.
  3. This sort of study opens up for serious cultural analysis texts which had hitherto been closed to such study because they did not conform to the rules of literature, hence were not literature but ‘popular writing’ or ‘private writing’ or ‘history’ and so forth. When the rules of literary meaning are seen as just another set of rules for a signifying arena of a culture, then literature loses some aspects of its privileged status, but gains in the strength and cogency of its relationship to other areas of signification. Hence literary study has expanded to the study of textuality, popular writing has been opened up to serious study, and the grounds for the relationship between the meaning-conventions of literature and the way in which a culture imagines reality have been set, and we can speak more clearly of the relation of literary to cultural (or, ‘human’, or ‘every-day’) meanings.
  4. As everything that can be known, can be known by virtue of its belonging to a signifying system, then everything can be spoken of as being textual.
All documents can be studied as texts — for instance, history or sociology can be analyzed the way literature can be. All of culture can be studied as text. Anthropology, among other fields, is revolutionized through ethnography; qualitative rather than quantitative study becomes more and more the norm in many areas of social science. Belief-systems can be studied textually and their role in constructing the nature of the self understood. Consequently much greater attention is paid to the nature of language-use in culture. Language-use relating to various social topics or areas of engagement has become known as “discourse.” Although “discourse” is a term more prevalent in post-structuralist thinking, it is of its nature a structuralist development.

III. Structuralism and literature
See my summary of Gerard Genette’s “Structuralism and Literary Criticism” for more ideas.
  1. In extending the range of the textual we have not decreased the complexity or meaning-power of literature but have in fact increased it, both in its textual and in its cultural meaningfulness. If the reader and the text are both cultural constructions, then the meaningfulness of texts becomes more apparent, as they share meaning-constructs; if the cultural is textual, then the culture’s relation to the textuality of literature becomes more immediate, more pertinent, more compelling. Literature is a discourse in a world of discourses, each discourse having its protocols for meaning and typical uses of language, rhetoric, subject area and so forth.
  2. The thesis that what seems real to us is coded and conventional leads to a consideration of how ‘reality’ is represented in art — what we get is a ‘reality effect’; the signs which represent reality are ‘naturalized’, that is, made to seem as if we could see reality through them — or in another way of saying, made to seem to be conforming to the laws of reality. This is achieved through ‘vraisemblance’, truth-seeming, or ‘naturalization’. Some elements of vraisemblance (from Culler, Structuralist Poetics) are as follows.

There is the socially given text, that which is taken as the ‘real’ world — what is taken for granted. That we have minds and bodies, for instance. This is a textual phenomenon. (Every term of “we have minds and bodies”, the relations between most of these terms, and what we mean by them, in fact codify culturally specific assumptions.) There is the general cultural text: shared knowledge which would be recognized by participants as part of culture and hence subject to correction or modification but which none the less serves as a kind of ‘nature’. This is the level at which we interpret motive, character and significance from descriptions of action, dress, attitude and so forth. “Jake put on his tuxedo and tennis shoes” will provide an interpretation of Jake or will look forward to an explanation of why he broke the cultural code, in this case a dress code. “Harry gazed for hours on the picture of Esmeralda” is a culturally coded statement: we read Harry’s attitude, and so forth. We ‘imitate’ ‘reality’ by recording cultural codes.

There are the conventions of genre, a specifically literary and artificial vraisemblance — “the series of constituent conventions which enable various sorts of works to be written.” The lines

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; The center cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world

require certain conventions of reading. If we were to read it as part of a paragraph in Dickens they would make less sense. One convention of literature is that there is a persona who is articulating the text — that it comes from some organizing consciousness which can be commented on and described. Genre is another convention: each genre designates certain kinds of action as acceptable and excludes others.

There is what might be called the natural attitude to the artificial, where the text explicitly cites and exposes vraisemblance of the kind directly above, so as to reinforce its own authority. The narrator may claim that he is intentionally violating the conventions of a story, for instance, that he knows that this is not the way it should be done according to the conventions, but that the way he is doing it serves some higher or more substantial purpose — the appeal is to a greater naturalness or a higher intelligibility.

There is the complex vraisemblance of specific intertextualities. “When a text cites or parodies the conventions of a genre one interprets it by moving to another level of interpretation where both terms of the opposition can be held together by the theme of literature itself.” — e.g. parody, when one exploits the particular conventions of a work or style or genre, etc. Irony forces us to posit an alternate possibility or reality in the face of the reality-construction of the text. All surface incongruities register meaning at a level of the project of interpretation itself, and so comment as it were on the relation between ‘textual’ and ‘interpretive’ reality.
In short, to imitate reality is to represent codes which ‘describe’ (or, construct) reality according to the conventions of representation of the time. The conventions of reading. We read according to certain conventions; consequently our reading creates the meaning of that which we read. These conventions come in two ‘layers’: (1). how we (culturally) think that reality is or should be represented in texts, which will include the general mimetic conventions of the art of the period, which will describe the way in which reality is apprehended or imagined, and  (2) the conventions of ‘literature’ (and of ‘art’ generally), for instance,

1. the rule of significance whereby we raise the meaning of the text to its highest level of generalizability (a tree blasted by lightning might become a figure of the power of nature, or of God);

2. the convention of figural coherence, through which we assume that figures (metonyms, metaphors, ‘symbols’) will have a signifying relationship to one another on a level of meaning more complex than or ‘higher’ than the physical;

3. the convention of thematic unity, whereby we assume that all of the elements of the text contribute to the meaning of the text. These are all conventions of reading.

4. The facts that some works are difficult to interpret, some are difficult to interpret for its contemporaries but not for later readers, some require that we learn how its contemporaries would have read them in order fully to understand them, these facts point to the existence of literary competence, the possession by the reader of protocols for reading. When one reads modernist texts, such as The Waste Land, one has to learn how to read them. One has in fact to learn how to read Blake’s Songs of Innocence and Experience, Spenser’s The Faerie Queene, and so forth. Culler remarks that

reading poetry is a rule-governed process of producing meanings; the poem offers a structure which must be filled up and one therefore attempts to invent something, guided by a series of formal rules derived from one’s experience of reading poetry, which both make possible invention and impose limits on it.

5. Structuralism is oriented toward the reader insofar as it says that the reader constructs literature, that is, reads the text with certain conventions and expectations in mind. Some post-structural theorists, Fish for instance, hold that the reader constructs the text entirely, through the conventions of reading of her interpretive community.

6. In joining with formalism in the identification of literariness as the focus on the message itself as opposed to a focus on the addressee, the addresser, or the referential function of the message, structuralism places ambiguity, as Genette points out, at the heart of the poetic function, as its self-referential nature puts the message, the addresser and the addressee all in doubt. Hence literary textuality is complexly meaningful.

7. Structuralism underlines the importance of genre, i.e., basic rules as to how subjects are approached, about conventions of reading for theme, level of seriousness, significance of language use, and so forth. “Different genres lead to different expectations of types of situations and actions, and of psychological, moral, and esthetic values.” (Genette)

8. The idea that literature is an institution is another structuralist contribution; that a number of its protocols for creation and for reading are in fact controlled by that institutional nature.

9. Through structuralism, literature is seen as a whole: it functions as a system of meaning and reference no matter how many works there are, two or two thousand. Thus any work becomes the parole, the individual articulation, of a cultural langue, or system of signification. As literature is a system, no work of literature is an autonomous whole; similarly, literature itself is not autonomous but is part of the larger structures of signification of the culture.

10. The following are some points based on Culler’s ideas about the advantages of structuralism, having to do with the idea that literature is a protocol of reading:

Structuralism is a firmer starting-point for reading literature as literature than are other approaches, because literariness and/or fictionality does not have to be shown to be inherent in the text, but in the way it is read. It explains, for instance, why the same sentence can have a different meaning depending on the genre in which it appears, it explains how the boundaries of the literary can change from age to age, it accommodates and explains differing readings of a text given differing reading protocols — one can read a text for its ‘literary’ qualities or for its sociological or ideological qualities, for instance, and read as complex a text in doing so.

One gains an appreciation of literature as an institution, as a coherent and related set of codes and practices, and so one sees also that reading is situated reading, that is, it is in a certain meaning-domain or set of codes. It follows that when literature is written, it will be written under these codes (it can break or alter the codes to create effects, but this is still a function of the codes).

Consequently one can be more open to challenges to and alterations of literary conventions.

Once one sees that reading and writing are both coded and based on conventions one can read ‘against the grain’ in a disciplined way, and one can read readings of literature — reading can become a more self-reflexive process.

IV. Structural Analysis
As structuralism is so broad a theory with such extensive ramifications, there will be different ways of doing structural analysis. Here are some possible approaches.

The study of the basic codes which make narrative possible, and which make it work. This is known generally as narratology, and often produces what might be called a grammar of narrative. Greimas, Barthes, Todorov and others investigated what the components and relations of narrative are. This gives rise to such things as Barthes division of incidents into nuclei and catalyzers, and his promulgation of five codes of narrative, given briefly here, as adapted from Cohen and Shires:

1. proairetic — things (events) in their sequence; recognizable actions and their effects.

2. semic — the field where signifiers point to other signifiers to produce a chain of recognizable connotations. In a general sense, that which enables meaning to happen.

3. hermeneutic — the code of narrative suspense, including the ways in which the story suspends closure, structures parallels, repetitions and so forth toward closure.

4. symbolic — marks out meaning as difference; the binaries which the culture uses/enacts to create its meanings; binaries which, of course,but disunite and join.

5. reference — refers to various bodies of knowledge which constitute the society; creates the familiarity of reality by quoting from a large assortment of social texts which mediate and organize cultural knowledge of reality — medicine, law, morality, psychology, philosophy, religion, plus all the clichs and proverbs of popular culture.

6. diegetic (C&S’s addition) — the narration, the text’s encoding of narrative conventions that signify how it means as a telling.

The study of the construction of meaning in texts, as for instance through tropes, through repetitions with difference. Hayden White analyzes the structure of Western historical narrative through a theory of tropes; Lodge shows how metaphor and metonymy can be seen to form the bases respectively of symbolic and realist texts.

The study of mimesis, that is, of the representation of reality, becomes i) the study of naturalization, of the way in which reality effects are created and the way in which we create a sense of reality and meaning from texts; ii) the study of conventions of meaning in texts.

Texts are also analyzed for their structures of opposition, particularly binary oppositions, as informing structures and as representing the central concerns and imaginative structures of the society.

Texts can be analyzed as they represent the codes and conventions of the culture — we can read the texts as ways of understanding the meaning-structures of the cultures and sub-cultures out of which they are written and which they represent.

Tara: Mahesh Dattani

Mahesh Dattani has presented the bizarre reality of the woman playing second fiddle to man. This play opens with Chandan changed into Dan in order to absolve himself from the guilt of killing his sister. He has to bear the brunt of his grandfather’s and mother’s cruelty .He considers himself responsible for his sister’s death. In this play Dattani plays with the idea of female infanticide that is prevalent among the Gujratis and also suggests Patel`s hegemonic patriarchy when he insists that proper division in the gender roles be made Tara gives us a glimpse into the modern society which claims to be liberal and advanced in its thought and action. In a society which claims that its mothers are educated today and have `Devis` like Durga, Kali, Saraswati , Lakshmi etc whom not only women but men also pay obeisance , differentiate between a male child and a female child. All the propagandas of equality between male and female, equal opportunities to women in all the fields are belied. Dattani’s deep preoccupation with gender issues leads to the emergence of the idea of the twin side to one`s self –quite literally embodied in one body and the separation that follows Mahesh Dattani mentioned in one of his interviews with Lakshmi Subramanyam: ``I see Tara as a play about the male self and female self. The male self is being preferred in all cultures .The play is about the separation of self and the resultant angst`

Erin Mee writes in the note of the play,``Tara centres on the emotional separation that grows between two conjoined twins following the discovery that their physical separation was manipulated by their mother and grandfather to favour the boy[ Chandan] over the girl [ Tara] .Tara , a feisty girl who isn`t given the opportunities given to her brother [although she may be smarter ] eventually wastes away and dies. Chandan escapes to London, changes his name to Dan , and attempts to repress the guilt he feels over his sister`s death by living without a personal history. Woven into the play are issues of class and community , and the clash between traditional and modern lifestyles and values.``

Patel and Bharati are educted parents but they created new discriminations. Bharati`s father, a resourceful person, is also considered to be one of the factors in this mishap. If Bharati had been led astray by her father`s high handed decision, why didn`t Patel put his foot down and stand against their decision? Father should be strong enough to fight this discrimination. The relationship of Bharati and Tara , mother and daughter is subordinated to her subjugation to the expectations of the society. She has no free will and her compassion for Tara, proves weak in her preference for her son Chandan. She plans for the surgery for the separation of the children and determines to offer her kidney to give a new lease of life to Tara .When Chandan enquires her if she has any plans for Tara, Bharati says, `Yes, I plans for her happiness. I mean to give her all love and affection which I can give .Its what she deserves have can make up for lot”.

Bharati is quite much fearful about the future of her daughter, `It`s all right while she is young. It`s all very cute and comfortable when she makes witty remarks .But let her grow up .Yes ,Chandan the world will tolerate you. The world will accept you- but not her! Oh! The pair is going to feel when she sees herself at eighteen or twenty .Thirty is unthinkable and what about forty and fifty! Oh, God !

Bharati tries to shed her burden of guilt by showing maternal love and concern for her daughter and to assert her moral superiority over her husband. She also tries to expatiate by the act of donating kidney to her daughter which was ultimately futile. Dattani establishes that mother and daughter relationship is ultimately subordinated to the directives of patriarchy .All cultures and all countries by establishing values, roles , gender perception and prescribe unequal means to achieve. Dr. Thakkar occupies the one on the highest level throughout the play. Tara and Chandan are conjoined, Siamese twins who must be separated to survive. The dichotomy between the twin `gendered` selves is recognized , and a physical separation is made through surgery `` Like we`ve always been. Inseperable .The way we started in life. Two lives and one body in one comfortable womb. Till we were forced out---- And separated``

The problem begin when it is recognized that it has been unequal , unfair operation , with the mother , Bharati, her father and the surgeon collaborating to afford the male with better chances , physically –the second leg. Dr. Thakkar , the god –like `life giver ` is aware that the third leg would adhere better to the female half, and yet becomes party to the decision. Dan tries to define his other half, the feisty Tara `` She never got a fair deal .Not even from nature. Neither of us did. May be God never wanted us separated .Destiny desires strange things-----But even God does not always get what he wants. Conflict is the crux of life`

Mr. Patel , an emblem of male chauvinism , maintains his absolute authority in the decision making about the family Bharati is a pathetic victim of patriarchy .She was exceptionally conscious for her safety for Tara , not for the sake of Tara but for her own sake. It was irony of fate that Chandan and Tara were entwined in such a way that their separation was impossible . Chandan enjoyed greater preference and Tara was left to enjoy the position of a subaltern. The effort to separate them through surgery left Tara cripple for life. The suffering of Tara and Chandan is a symbolic justification to the perception that the grace of the relationship exist not in their separateness but in their moving in a coordination or interdependence. The famous theatre director Erin Mee writes`

Dattani sees Tara as a play about the gendered self, about coming to terms with the feminine side of oneself in a world that always favours what is `male` , but many people in India see it as a play about the girl child.`

Tara was more enthusiastic and full of jest and spark of life .She had high aspirations which she could not accomplish because of her handicapped state while the boy was comfortably ensconced and had come to terms with his handicapped life, Why was then Tara denied the privilege of the good leg. Why? Is it because she was a girl ? Is being a girl in the society a curse. Why so much partiality and differentiation done to women in the country which has rich heritage and where women are otherwise placed on the pedestral Dr. Thakkar belied his godly profession and led himself to be bribed by Bharati`s father into becoming an accomplice in the bizarre act of severing the leg. He should have upheld his profession by denouncing the decision at his inception whereas he in a way took Tara`s life by severing the leg. His wise decision could have given Tara a safe, secured and complete life.Patel , meanwhile seems much beleaguered ``Yes, call me a liar, a wife beater, a child abuser.It`s what you want me to be! And you .You want them to believe you love them very much `

Again he tells Tara , `` Tara , please believe me when I say that I love you very much and I have never in all my life loved you less or more than I have loved your brother. But your mother.

This is why the play generates a death like response from Tara when she learns the truth, she was discriminated against , because of her gender, but not by her father- it was Bharart`s decision that deprived her of what she wanted more than anything else in the world- a second leg.Bharati`s father further strengthened his indulgence for male grand child by leaving his property after his demise to Chandan and not a single penny to Tara.

Chandan and Tara`s maternal grandfather was a wealthy man. He was in politics and came very close to becoming the Chief Minister.His will is a testament of the kind of treatment that is meted out to girls in Indian society.Mr. Patel and Chandan are talking,

``PATEL. He [ grandfather] left you a lot of money.
CHANDAN . And Tara?
PATEL . Nothing
PATEL It was his money.He could do what he wanted with it.[CP p-360]10

Patel`s attitude has also been negative. He blames his wife and father-in-law for the damage done cannot be denied. The fact that male is always given the greater chance is obvious from Patel`s planning for Chandan`s education and future career. No consideration whatsoever for her feelings! Tara is the victim of this collective social system. Her father, Mr. Patel , is not much different from his wife , though Bharati is guilty of a more serious crime against Tara. He continuously and doggedly favours Chandan when it comes to giving him higher education abroad. , and a career.

``PATEL .You are turning them against the whole world.
BHARATI I am doing that.
PATEL . Yes ! Look at the way you treat Tara .As if she is made of glass. You coddle her , you pet her, you sdpoil her, She`s grown up feeling she doesn`t need anyone but you.!
BHARATI. What d`you want me to do? Just tell me in plain simple words what you want me to do and i`ll do it!
PATEL. Let go. Just let go.And let me handle them.
BHARATI. All right .You stay at home then ! You stay at home and watch what they can do and what they can`t .You remind them of what they can`t be. It`s easy for you to talk about their future and your plans.But tell them what they should do now .This day , this hour , this minute .Tell them ! I want to hear.!
PATEL. Chandan is going to study further and he will go abroad for his higher studies.
BHARATI. And Tara?
PATEL. When have you ever allowed me to make any plans for her?

But Tara could have made her defiency , her strength and fight the society to etch a place of her own.Tara is discoraged openly, notwithstanding her feelings in the matter , even though she is more intelligent , sharp and witty and would perform well if given ooportunities in life. Economic and cultural factors have been responsible for the antipathy against and inferiorization of the girl child .All these factors combine to create the social system in which the girl child has to live and die.Tara is killed by social system , which controls the minds and actions of the people.The trauma of coming to know the role her mother had played in her life , and the discrimination become too much for her. And why is she killed? Tara is not wanted. Girls are not wanted.

``TARA. Oh! What a waste! A waste of money .What spend all the money to keep me alive?It cannot matter whether I live or die. There are thousands of poor sick people on the roads who could be given care and attention , and I think I know what I will make of myself.I will be a crer for those people .I ---- I will spend the rest of my life feeding and clothing those. ----starving naked millions everywhere is talking about.May be I can start an institution that will ---- do all that.Or I could join Mother Teresa and sacrifice muself to a great cause.That may give--- purpose to my ---existence .I can do it .I can do it , can`t I ?I will be very happy if I could , because that is really what I want .That really ---[with emotion].Oh! , bullshirt! I don`t care .I don`t care for anyone except mummy!

The above statement shows that Tara is not deterred by the injustice done to her by her parents but she presents herself as an empowered lady to face all the hurdles.She also shows her sympathy towards the downtrodden.She was bubbly and energetic girl who had all the qualities of a normal girl. If she had been given moral support by her parents .She might have shone like a star as her name signifies. Her life was a burden on this earth .This made her lose interest in life altogether .Further she refuses to go to physiotherapy or fill forms for college.

TARA.. How do you expect me to feel anything for anyone if they don`t give me any feeling to begin with? Why is it wrong for me to be without feeling? Why are you asking me to do something that nobody has done for me?

Tara was a bright and shinning star which was a source of cheerfulness and happiness of the family.A complete life could have done wonders and she would have scored the limits which her brother Chandan couldn`t have.Tara`s potentiality was sacrificed on the alter of gender. Identity crisis becomes a chain with which a female is fettered when the question of choice between male and female arises.

`TARA The hospital staff. At the reception , they asked me who I wanted to see. I told them. They asked me to wait .One of the nurses passing by recognized me .She drew the receptionist aside and spoke to her in a low voice .She thought I couldn`t hear what she was saying .But I heard ! She told her that she had received strict instructions from our father that I shouldn`t on any account be allowed to see mummy on my own .[Pause] Now tell me i`m imagining things .Tell me that he doesn`t hate me!

It is noteworthy that discrimination against Tara continues even after her death.Chandan , who was always interested in writing , and who has come to England for higher studies , has transferred into Dan .He turns the story he writes into his own tragedy. Dan apologises to Tara for doing this ``Forgive me , Tara .Forgive me for making it my tragedy.``

In the end I can say that Mahesh Dattani has very deftly revealed the theme of gender discrimination in this play.

Subramanyam,Lakshmi[ed]. ,Muffled Voices: Women in Modern Indian Theatre, New Delhi,Shakti , 2002, p-134
Mee, Erin, A Note in the Play ,Collected Plays, Mahesh Dattani, Penguin Books, New Delhi, p-319
Dattani, Mahesh, Collected Plays, Penguin, New Delhi, p-349
Mee, Erin, A Note in the Play, Collected Plays, Mahesh Dattani, Penguin, New Delhi p-320
Dattani, Mahesh-Collected Plays, Penguin Books, New Delhi, p-354

The Crucial Book of Salman Rushdie

“Joyce built a whole universe out of a grain of sand”

Salman Rushdie, the author of the “Week of the Book” present, was carried along by James Joyce’s Ulysses as though the book was rocket fuel.

The wing of the Rijksmuseum looks like a fort. His bodyguards (beside his own there are three other of the city of Amsterdam) have left for a cup of coffee, and the one walking along Salman Rushdie watches me with a slightly disturbed and slightly concerned expression. Many images must haunt the head of the man who wrote this year’s “Week of the Book” present: frightening images, images of the future, images of old myths and modern internet legends. Somewhere in that hyperactive brain also roams the spirit of the Irish-born writer James Joyce (1882-1941). Rushdie: “Joyce is always in my mind, I carry him everywhere with me”.

Who it was who called his attention to Ulysses (published in Paris in 1922) Rushdie does not remember, but he knows that it was in the first year of his study of history.. “Everyone said that it was such a sealed book, hard to penetrate, but I did not think so at all. You never hear people say that there is so much humor in the book, that the characters are so lively or that the theme – Stephen Daedalus in search of his lost father and Bloom looking for his lost child – is so moving. People talk about the cleverness of Ulysses and about the literary innovation. To me it was moving, in the first place”

Stephen and Bloom, those were the characters which touched him immediately. He quotes from memory: “Leopold Bloom ate with relish the inner organs of beasts and fowls”. Those were the first lines of the second chapter. “I am myself disgusted by that kind of organs”, he grinned. “There are still so many little things I always have to smile about when I think of them. That commercial, for example: “What is home/without Plumtree’s Potted Meat?/ Incomplete”. That is still funny. Joyce used many stylistic means which were novel in his time, newspaper headlines for instance. Is it not moving that he makes Ulysses happen on the day that he met his wife! He kept that newspaper, carried it always with him and used all of its details, including the names of the horses in the races. In short, he built a universe out of a grain of sand. That was a revelation to me: so that is the way one could also write! To somebody who wanted to be a writer, like me, it was so perfect, so inspiring, that it made one need to recover. I have thought for some time: I quit writing, I become a lawyer. Later I thought that there may be some little things still worth doing.”

Such as in the field of linguistic innovation? “Joyce spoke against the politisizing of literature, but his language is a purposeful attempt to create an English which was just not a property of the English. He employs a lot of borrowed words from other European languages and creates an un-English kind of English”. Was that not also the goal of Rushdie himself? “Certainly. The Irish did it, so did the American and the Caribian writers. While English traveled around like that, the people felt the need to innovate it. So I did. But the Joycean innovation was the greatest of all. It is an example that deserves to be followed”.

And what about Joyce’s famous monologue intĂ©rieur ? “That stream of consciousness was not an invention of Joyce, but he used it more subtly than anyone else. Bloom’s inner voices were about very common things, about a hungry feeling or so. Joyce demonstrates that the material of daily life can be as majestic as any great epic. The lives of ordinary people are also worthy of great art. One can create grandeur out of banality. That was precisely the criticism Virgina Woolf had on Joyce. Woolf was a bit too snobbish for it”.

As the best example of the stream of consciousness Rushdie “of course” considers Molly Blooms monologue at the end of the book. “In the past I could recite whole parts of it: “and first I put my arms around him yes and drew him down to me so he could feel my breasts all perfume yes and his heart was going like mad and yes I said yes I will Yes.” That conclusion is absolutely rocket fuel at the end. You have a book behind you in which the behavior of people is not strictly transparent and then suddenly you feel not only the skin of that woman, but her whole body, all her flesh and blood, that is a baffling climax. Of course also very erotic, although as yet the novel was not erotic at all. At that time literature did not extend to erotics, to the sexual fantasies of women. Impossible to imagine Virginia Woolf doing something like that”.

Ulysses is in fact a national epic about Ireland. “It is a grand homage to the country that has never understood him” says Rushdie. “He was regarded there as a pornographer and blasphemer. Now he is viewed as Ireland’s national monument. Well, that’s easy. I do understand how Joyce felt. I am close to him. I feel a kinship, not so much between our types of authorship, but rather between his eye and ear, his mind and mine. The way one looks at things”.

Nevertheless, they would not have become friends, he believes. “Joyce was not very good at friendship. There is a story about his put-down of Samuel Beckett, who adored him and often came along his place. He plainly told him that he only loved two people in the world: the first being his wife, the second his daughter. His only encounter with Proust was also very comical. Joyce and Proust met each other when leaving a party. Proust had his coach standing at the door and was wrapped up fom head to foot, afraid as he was to catch a cold. Joyce jumps into the coach uninvitedly, lights a cigar and opens the window widely. Proust says nothing, neither does Joyce. It is like a silent movie. Two masters of the word, who say nothing to each other and yet disclose themselves. Fantastic!”

In Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man Joyce mentions the weapons with which a writer can defend himself against the outer world: silence, exile, and cunning. Are those the weapons Rushdie recognizes? “Well, that was a very good stratagem in the time of Joyce. Like Voltaire, Joyce believed that a writer should live near a border, so that he could leave immediately if problems arose. At present that does not work anymore: I have experienced it personally. And silence is an overrated artform, which people now too often impose upon you”.

But are writers not regarded more and more as intellectuals and are they not continually asked for an opinion? “I believe that worldwide there are more and more efforts to impose silence upon writers – and that not only applies to me. It is easy to point to the Arab world, or to China, but even in the United States there are people who want to ban Harry Potter books from schools, because they contain something about witchcraft. Even something harmless like that provokes an attack. We live in a time with an increasing urge to censorship. Various interest groups–including antiracist or feminist movements– demand it. When Kurt Vonnegut is banned from public libraries and not everywhere it is allowed to teach about Huckleberry Finn, then you just cannot assume straight-away that there is something like freedom. Against silence it is that now we have to fight. And exile does not work. Therefore, cunning is the only thing that remains”.

Every year there is in the Netherlands a special week, called the Week of the Book, in which– to promote the new titles– anyone spending more than $10 in a book store receives an extra book, which is specially written for the occasion. In 2001 it was Salman Rushdie who was invited to write the book, and his Woede (i.e. Fury in English) became the year’s present. He was also invited to the Gala of authors with which the Week of the Book started. This year the party was held in a wing of the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.) It was here that Margot Dijkgraaf, literary critic of the Dutch newspaper NRC Handelsblad, interviewed Salman Rushdie for the series The Crucial Book, in which writers expound their views on the book that has most influenced their ideas. [K.G.]


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The Satanic Verses: Rushdie

The Unity of The Satanic Verses

The Satanic Verses has been attacked by many critics as incoherent, as a disorganized mixture of plots, themes, and characters. Even a cursory survey of the preceding notes reveals that Rushdie has sought to knit together the various threads of his novel by introducing a host of cross-references, repeating the names of characters, catch phrases, and images in a complex network of allusions and echoes. Yet these might be viewed as desperate attempts to give a surface appearance of unity to a basically chaotic work.

Critics persuaded that The Satanic Verses is indeed unified by a related set of topics, all of them widely acknowledged in earlier criticism, but Rushdie says that novels do not lay down rules, but ask questions. In fact he claims that by asking questions, good fiction can help to create a changed world. Novels like The Satanic Verses don't settle debates: they articulate the terms of debate and ask hard questions of the opposing sides, thereby helping to usher "newness" into the world. One of the unifying themes of The Satanic Verses is newness, or change. It attacks rigid, self-righteous orthodoxies and celebrates doubt, questioning, disruption, innovation. This much is obvious.

But Rushdie is focussing on a particular set of issues relating to rigidity and change: those identified with what is sometimes called "identity politics." It is unfortunate that this term is primarily associated with the opponents of such politics because it so aptly sums up what feminism, Afrocentrism, gay pride, national liberation movements and a host of other causes have in common.

People who find themselves excluded or suppressed by dominant groups try by various means to find an effective voice and tools for action to create power and authority for themselves. It is these struggles that are the basic underlying matter of Rushdie's novel. The question that is asked throughout this novel is "What kind of an idea are you?" In other words, on what ideas, experiences, and relationships do you base your definition of yourself--your identity?

People who find themselves identified as "foreigners" or "aliens" often find unwelcome hostile identities imposed upon them. The common catch-phrase in literary theory these days is "demonization," and it is this term that Rushdie makes concrete in his novel by turning Saladin, the immigrant who is most determined to identify with the English, literally into a demon. (Of course he is also able to earn his living only by taking on the guise of a space alien.) The other immigrants who assume horns later in the novel express the same satirical view of English bigotry. But this is only the beginning of Rushdie's exploration of the theme of identity.

In the distant past, European observers writing about people in colonized nations often distinguished between "unspoiled natives" who dwelled in childlike, ignorant innocence which was part of their charm, and others who had been "spoiled" by contact with a European civilization they could mimic but never truly master. This formula not only justified the colonial domination of colonized "children" as a form of parental concern, even charity ("the white man's burden"), but rationalized measures taken to prevent inhabitants of the colonies from gaining the education and jobs they would have needed to rule themselves in the modern world.

Less obviously vicious but still prejudicial was a later formula according to which writing about what is now called "postcolonial" literature emphasized the position of writers from the "third world" writing in English as exiles, uprooted and stranded in alien, often hostile cultures far from home, working in a language that may not have been their own. Immigrants were called "exiles" whether they had actually been driven from their homeland or--as was much more common--they had sought increased opportunity by voluntarily moving abroad. "Exile" is a weak image, and Rushdie rejects it. His immigrants are sources of energy and creativity, busily redefining the culture of their adopted homelands.

In a more recent period, the standard formula has referred to the "center" and the "periphery." Europe and the U.S. constitute the center, writers from nations like Nigeria, Jamaica, and India belong to the periphery. Their voices are said to have been "marginalised," thrust from the center, forced into the margins. People using this language do so with more or less irony; but all too often it becomes just another way of saying that we should pay attention to our less fortunate fellows. The challenge of "marginalised" voices is to find the center, or shift it to themselves, seize the podium, and speak their piece.

What Rushdie does in The Satanic Verses is to reverse these terms. He challenges the English/European/white sense of identity. He rejects its claims to centrality. London is changed into an exotic land where people follow strange customs (wiping themselves "with paper only" and eating bony fish). People of traditional Anglo-Saxon stock are almost entirely absent from the London of The Satanic Verses. Instead the city swarms with immigrants: Indians, Bengalis, Pakistanis, Jamaicans, German Jews, etc. He reminds the English that they too were colonized, by the Romans and the Normans.

The only major character with a traditional English heritage is Pamela, who is striving mightily to escape that very heritage and mistakes Saladin for an exotic "alien" who can link her to India, when the main reason he is drawn to her is that she represents escape from the Indianness he is trying to flee. (This same sort of cross-purposes Indian-European relationship is also dealt with in a Raja Rao's remarkable 1960 novel The Serpent and the Rope.) Rosa Diamond is an Englishwoman yearning to become Latin American or to be conquered by invading Normans. The bigots who beat Chamcha in the police van are all--as he notes--no more English in their heritage than he, but his color and identity as a postcolonial immigrant allows them to treat him as a complete alien.

Minor Anglo-Saxon characters are venal (Hal Valance), bigoted (the punks who spit on the food in the Shaandaar Café), tyrannical (Margaret Thatcher), or stupid (Eugene Dumsday). Rushdie has turned the tables on Anglo-Americans. Their travel writers have for generations dwelt on the failings of the benighted natives of far-off lands: it is now their turn to become a set of cartoons, to provide the background for the thoughts, feelings, and actions of the really important characters.

But Rushdie does not engage in this sort of caricature to privilege his immigrants as somehow morally superior. They are all morally flawed as well, though treated in a more complex manner. He is not saying that being from a former colony of Britain grants one any particular virtue; it is only that he is interested in focussing on such people. Of course he is perfectly aware that by doing so he is disorienting his "mainstream" English and American readers, giving them a taste of what it feels like to be bit players in a drama which is not essentially about them.

Further, he is not asking how immigrants can become "English" (in the way that Otto Cone strove to become English); he is instead asking how immigrants can create an identity for themselves in England which is richer, newer, more interesting than the traditional stereotypes associated with the old center of empire.

One traditional strategy of oppressed or marginalised groups is to try to create a sense of identity by dwelling on their shared history. Sometimes this takes the form of referring back to a historical period of suffering, as in the case of African-Americans finding a common ground in their heritage of slavery. This can be a powerful move when one belongs to a minority with a commonly recognized shared past of suffering. But this strategy has some often-noted unfortunate by-products. For one thing, it relies for its effectiveness on the hope that members of the majority group will accept the responsibility for their ancestors' deeds. Even when majorities acknowledge the injustices of the past, guilt is not an emotion that can often motivate action to atone for those injustices. The Hindu miners in the Titlipur story who hark back to their suffering under Islamic rule to justify their attacks on the Muslim pilgrims illustrate the all too common phenomenon of historical grievances being used by one group to justify atrocities against another. Another instance in the novel is the group of Sikh terrorists who blow up the plane at the beginning. During the riot, whites emblazon their apartment houses with references to nineteenth-century wars in South Africa, posing as beleaguered English South African settlers surrounded by hostile Zulus. In our time Northern Ireland and the Balkans have provided vivid European examples of the deadly effects of this sort of thing.

The politics of shared grievance also focus attention on the past rather than on the future. Rushdie wants people to remember that Union Carbide's neglect cost the lives and health of thousands of Indians in the Bhopal disaster (and he clearly wants the company held responsible), but he does not want the very identity of India to be defined only by a chain of misfortunes. The most important aspect of the Indian cultural heritage for him is its rich, creative variety. Its history is more than a mere list of the crimes committed against it by others; and he is prepared to add the crimes committed by Indians against each other to its portrait as well.

Another approach to identity politics is to hark back to a positive historical heritage instead of to a time of suffering. Thus the black Caribbean immigrants in the novel seek to emphasize an African heritage which is actually very distant from their lived experience. Chamcha mentally mocks them for singing the "African National Anthem." The black leader originally named "Sylvester Roberts" has chosen the absurd name "Uhuru Simba" in an attempt to "Africanize" his identity. It seems clear that Rushdie shares at least some of Chamcha's reservations about Afrocentrism in the scene of the defense rally for the arrested Dr. Simba. Choosing Chamcha as his point of view character allows him to critique the limits of such ideas even as he acknowledges the justness of their cause.

In the first chapter of the book, George Miranda and Bhupen Gandhi match Zeeny's proud references to Indian accomplishments and her list of crimes against Indians with their own examples of atrocities committed by Indians (54-57). Bhupen ends his tirade against modern India by asking the emblematic question, "Who do we think we [are]?"

Rushdie seems to be trying to say that Indians, like all human beings, are both victims and criminals, both creators and destroyers. He is not proposing a sort of bland homogenized theory of original sin according to which all people are equally guilty and none specifically to blame: clearly he cares passionately that wrongs be righted and criminals identified and punished. Rather he rejects both martyrdom and triumphant nationalism as inadequate foundations for a satisfactory self-identity.

Another common source of identity is, of course, religion. Who would have thought that in the latter part of the twentieth century, so many conflicts would come to be defined in religious terms? Israeli Jews vs. Palestinians, Sikhs vs. Hindus, Hindus vs. Muslims, Serbs vs. Croatians, Irish Catholics vs. Irish Protestants--we seem to be embroiled in a new age of Wars of Religion. For Rushdie, orthodox religion signifies intolerance, repressiveness, rigidity. Dumsday represents the know-nothing Christian right and the Imam fanatical Muslim extremism. The Imam's hatred of the former Shah of Iran and SAVAK is no doubt shared by Rushdie; but his alternative is even more monstrous: a giant insatiable maw devouring the people it claims to save. It is one of the more poignant ironies of "the Rushdie affair" that Khomeni evidently died without ever realizing that the novel he had denounced contained a devastating portrait of him.

If Rushdie had only denounced such fanaticism, few in the Muslim world would have endorsed Khomeni's fatwa. But Rushdie goes on to call into question the credibility and beneficence of orthodox, traditional Islam. Gibreel's dreams challenge the Qur'an's claims to infallibility, accuse Islam of the repression of women, call into question the probity and honesty of the Prophet himself.

Rushdie does not create these dreams out of a simple desire to blaspheme for blasphemy's sake. He is following in the footsteps of the great eighteenth-century Enlightenment critics of religion like Voltaire who sought to undermine the authoritarian power structures of their day by challenging their religious underpinnings. So long as the Church endorsed slavery, the divine right of kings, and censorship, the sort of liberating changes the rationalists yearned for could not come to pass, unless the Church's authority could be called into question. Similarly, Rushdie sees modern societies like Iran and Pakistan as cursed by religious convictions that bring out the worst qualities in their believers. (In The Moor's Last Sigh he challenges Hindu fanaticism as well.)

The entire novel strives to break down absolutes, to blur easy dichotomies, to question traditional assumptions of all kinds. There are to be no simple answers to the query, "What kind of an idea are we?" Demons can behave like angels and vice versa. High ideals can lead people to commit terrible crimes. Love can be mixed with jealous hate. Exalted faith can lead to tragedy. Just as Rushdie strives to destroy the distinction between center and periphery, so he challenges easy distinctions between good and evil.

At the end of the novel, Saladin returns to India, finally to reconcile himself with his father. But this is no simple return to his roots. The father with whom he is reconciled is a changed man. Saladin could not have loved him until he had become the enfeebled, benign shadow of his former self on his deathbed. Part of his heritage--the lamp--proves deadly. His inheritance does not include the home he grew up in. Zeeny, who elsewhere warmly urges his Indian roots on him, has little use for sentimental attachment to Peristan. Let it make way for the new, she says. Saladin seems finally to agree. He is ready to put aside not only the "fairy-tales" of religion but his personal history as well. In the end he opts for newness, for "If the old refused to die, the new could not be born".

In the end, despite the postmodern trappings of Rushdie's narrative, the values of the novel seem remarkably traditional: belief in individual liberty and tolerance, freedom of expression, skepticism about dogma, and belief in the redemptive power of love. Lest we too quickly claim triumphantly that these are distinctively European values, Rushdie reminds us of the remarkably intelligent and innovative Mughal ruler of India, Akbar, who challenged the orthodoxies of his time and brought more than his share of newness into the world (190).

One could derive from the book a sort of existentialist morality: there are no absolutes, but we are responsible for the choices we make, the alliances we forge, the relationships we enter into. Our choices define us. We cannot shift the responsibility for our actions to God or history. "What kind of an idea are you?" is a question addressed not only to immigrants, but to all of us.

Post-Feminism or Plain Old Sexism

“POST-FEMINISM” is the phrase du jour among mainstream political pundits, often accompanied by derogatory comments toward anyone who continues to complain that women lack equality. U.S. society has entered a “post-feminist” phase, a level playing field, according to this group of commentators. Women’s oppression belongs to a bygone era, and ideas of women’s liberation are merely outdated relics of that era. If anything, these pundits inform us, the women’s movement of the 1960s went too far and now must be reigned in. This is the typical rationale for curbing abortion rights.

A Study Of Suffering Women: Shashi Despande

Suffering means the act of distress, pain, endered. Through the topic, I want to present the women belonging to Indian middle class, who are brought up in a traditional, environment and one struggling to liberate themselves and seek their self-Idnetity and independence in the novels of Shasi Deshpande. Shashi Deshpande gives minute details of development of girl-child in her novels. She has displayed a series of girl-children, where each girl faces a different problem within the family. Violence against women, whether physical, mental or emotional, is an issue that crosses all borders and all classes of women. Feminism and its crusade against a male dominated society is of special importance in the Indian context.

The Indian women has for years been a silent suffers. In novel ‘The Dark Holds to Terros’ the whole situation in which Sarita has placed herself is rather unwarranted. The lack of perfect understanding emotions between husband and wife causes of domestic life, there should be a blend of acceptance and rejection, flexibility and rigidity and above all revolt if the occasion demands and compromise for peaceful life. The novel ‘Roots and Shadows’ projects the educated women who are unable to enfranchise the traditional background in which they are reared. The cruse of all the prevailing problems of women are their subjugation which is always present in the form of silent servitude. In ‘That Lond Silence’, retrieves facts from the depth of the past to reconstruct the missing links in the chain of women’s suffering, self-discruery by all means is a mature act, and also a cathartic one. In ‘The Binding Vine’ Mira’s poems and diaries engage her attention.

Through her dearies Urmila establishes a communion with her and tries to reconstruct the tragic tale of a sprightly girl. The novel ‘A Matter of Time’ moves beyond feminist concerns in that it raises the existentialist question it self. The important truth revelaed is that self pety is not answer. It is only through a process of self examination and self-searching, through courage and resilence that one can change one’s situation from despair to hope. Shashi Deshpande among the writers of the present day, the novels highlights the image of the middle class women sandwiched between tradition and modernity. The topic has been choosen by me, not only as a student of literature but as a responsible citizen of India who feels it is him duty to do something for country. Through the research. I want to present the condition of suffering women middle class of India.

Shashi Deshpande is an award winning Indian Novelist. She is the second daughter of famous Kannada dramatist and writer shriranga. She was born in 1938 Karnatak and educated in Bombay and Banglore. She published her first collection, of short stories in 1978, and her first novel. The Dark Holds No Terrors in 1980. She is a winner of the Sahitya Akademi Award, for the novel ‘That Long Silence’ Her works also include children’s books. Shashi Deshpande’s novels present a social world of mamy complex relationship. In her novels many men and women living together, journing across life in their difference age groups, classes and gendered roles. The old tradition bound world consists with the modern, creating unferseen gaps and disruptions within the family fold. Women’s understanding becomes questionable as the old patterns of behaviour no longer seem to be acceptable. These struggle become in tense of quests for self-definition, because it would not be possible to relate to others with any degree of conviction unless one is guided by a clarity about one’s own image and role.

Shashi Deshpande has presented in her novels modern India women’s search for these definition about the self and society and the relationship that are central to women. Her Works Novel The Dark Hold No Terrors (1980), If I die Today (1982), Roots and Shadows (1983), Came up and Be Dead (1985), That Long Silence (1988), The Binding Vine (1994) A Matter of Time (1996).

Shashi Deshpande’s Novels deal with the women belonging to Indian middle class. She deals with the inner world of the Indian women in her novels. She portrays her heroins in a realistic manner. As ‘The Dark Holds No Terrors’ the novel reveals the life of Sarita, who is always neglected and ignored in favour of her brother, she is not given any importance. In ‘Root and Shadows’ explores the innerself of Indu, who symbolizes the new women, who are educated and married to Jayant but her feminine instinct for articulation is suppressed and Mini inculcates in her all the traditional feminine qualities since her childhood. Akka got married to a man who has much older than her. She has to tolerate the scathing and bestial sexual advances of her husband. In the novel ‘That Long Silence’ Shashi Deshpande reveals that Consciousness of Jaya through an exposition of her mind in the process of thinking, feeling and reacting to the stimile of the moment and situation. Jaya is not totally a silent and mute sufferer. In ‘The Binding Vine’ Mira’s poems and diaries engage her attention.

Urmila esbalishis a communion with her and tries to reconstruct the tragic tale of a sprightly girls, who suffered and write poems in the solitude of an unhappy marriage. In the novel ‘A Mater of Time’ is an exploration of a woman’s inner life. Kalyani’s fears are based on patriarchal oppression that condemns women to the margins of silence. She is made to realise that while losing her son, a male hair. Sumi like her mother, is a suffering oppressed and wronged woman. Yet she does not question the man; her oppressor.

Shashi Deshpande is one of the famous contemporary Indian novelists in English. Basically she writes about the situation of women and their failures in the fast chaning socio-economic milieu of India. She writes about the conflict between tradition and modernity in relation to women in middle class society. In the novel ‘The Dark Holds No Terrors’ all the characterstics are intextricably blended in Saru who represents a reaction of society. Saru is brought up in a traditional atmosphere but the education she receiver makes her a changed person with a rebelleous attitude towards tradition. In ‘Rosts and Shadow’ through the character fo Indu, who is educated and who lives in close association with society, brushing aside all narrow social conventions. Akka the strict and disapproving matriarch of the family. In the novel ‘That Lond Silence’ through the character of Jaya, who adjusts and accomnodates unlike the modern women who themselves “forced into the background by the claims of culture” and hence they adopt “an inimical attitude towards it”. She is not the structurally patterned woman of the traditional Indian society. In the novel ‘The Binding Vine’ Normally Urmila’s meeting with Shakeitai would not have happened as shakeitai belongs to a different strata of society. In ‘A Matter of Time’ is a focus of social control, and the site of violence, exclusion and abouse. Aru asks Gopal “why did you get married at all, why did you have children. The whole novel us devoted to silent, brooding women, unhappy, yet lively clinging to their past, yet living in the present society.

Shashi Deshpande’s novel deals with the theme of the quest for a female identity. The complexities of man-woman relationship specially in the context of marriage, the trauma of a disturbed adolescence. The Indian woman has for years been a silent suffer. While she has played different roles-as a wife, mother, sister and daughter, she has never been able to claim her own individuallity. In the novel ‘The Dark Holds No Terrors’ Manohar’s male ego tries to dominate Sarita which ultimate results in disintegration, that Sarita is an individual not a dependent but a being capable of with standing trials in life alone. Her identity is no longer been in terms of the identify of her male counterpart. In ‘Roots and Shadwos’, Indu accepts that she throttled her desires not because of Jayant’s pressure but because it was her own decision with which she had given her identity. Akk too has to endure and submit to insults, injuries and humiliations with a stoic patience and never camplain. In ‘That Long Silence’, Jaya is being renamed as suhasine after her marriage is not a care of the loss of identity. In ‘The Binding Vine’, Urmila understands that even as a child, Mira has hated the way her mother has been surrendering herself to her husband and ever she has not herself identity. In ‘A Matter of Time’ It is here that in a flash Kalyani realizes that Gopal and she must now move an alone and she reconciles herself to their separation. Kalyani who emerges as the most powerful character in the novel. Here is a pitiable story, but one of deep endurance and strength.

Shashi Deshpande to project the fact tales about women, who speaking for herself or for the whole of womankind is quite different from a man telling a woman’s tale. This paper of minitries to bring out this idea of woman explicating herself and emerging out of the cocoon of self pity to spread her wings of self-confidence, as present in some silent writings of Shashi Deshpande. In the novel ‘The Dark Hold No Terrors’, Sarita achieved position and the ascribed position of her husband. The financial ascendance of Sarita, renders manother less significant and important. But his action at nights terrifies and humiliates saru. In ‘Root and Shadow’, Akka’s desire to educate her was not because of giving her on independent stand but because she feels that educated girls get a good match and Indu experiences disillusionment in sex and suffers a silent sexual humiliation. In ‘That Long Silence’ Jaya cames to recognise herself as a failed writer because when she had continued writing, her stories had been rejected for lack of genuine feelings which she had laid aside. After all she cames to accept herself as a failed writer and so she depends of her husband. We see in the novel ‘The Binding Vine Urmila is one who is ahead of her predeccessors by her endeavours to help other women. Often referred to is Uomi. She is an upper middle class carrier woman. Anu Consequently has became mighty sensitive to the suffering and despair of others. In the ‘A Matter of Time’ is a composite study in human relationship. The most striking example of silence is Kalyani who spents nearly forty years in total silence with her husband, Shripati but all women’s depended of the themselves.

Shashi Deshpande an eminent novelist has emerged as a writer possessing deep insight into the female psyche. Focussing on the marital relation she seek to expose the tradition by which a woman is trained to play her subservient role in the family. Her novels reveals the man-made patriarchal traditions and uneasiness of the modern Indian woman in being a part of them. Shashi Deshpande uses this point of view of present social reality as at is experienced by women. To present the world of mothers, daughters and wives is also to present indirectly the fathers, sons and husbands the relation between men and womaan, and between women themselves. Her young heroines rebel against the traditional way of life and patriatrchal values. The words which we always associate with what we consider to be the concept of an ideal woman are, self-denial, sacrifice, patience, devotion and silent suffering. As in the ‘The Dark Hold No Terror’, the life of Sarita who is always neglected and ignored. ‘Roots and Shadow’ explores the innerself of Indu, Mini, and Akka and Shashi Deshpande Shows the ‘That Long Silence’, Jaya is not a silent and make sufferer. In ‘The Binding Vine’ Mira has hated the way her mother has been surrendering herself to her husband and ever she has not herself identity. In the ‘A Matter of Time’ is an exploration of Kalyani, Sumi and her daughters Aru. Shadhi Deshpande’s fiction is an example of the ways in which a girl child’s particular position, social reality and identity and psychological growth determine her personality.

Primary Source
  • Works of Shashi Deshpande Novels Deshpande, Shashi, The Dark Holds NO Terrors: A Novel, New Delhi: Penguin Books, 1990.
  • If I die Today. New Delhi: Vikas Publishing Housing, 1982. New Delhi Tarang Paperbacks, 1982.
  • Come up and Be Dead. New Delhi, Viaks Publishing House, 1983.
  • Roots and Shadows: A Novel Bombay: Sangam Books, 1983. New Delhi: Orient Longman, 1983.
  • That Long Silence, London: Virago, 1988. New Delhi: Disha Books, 1992. 2nd ed. New Delhi Penguin Books, 1980.
  • Binding Vines. London: Virago, 1992, 1993.
  •  A Matter of Time. Delhi Renguin Books 1996.

Secondary Socrces:
Critical Wroks
  • Barche, G.D. “Indu: Another Sisyphus in Roots an Shadows” Dhawan Indian Woman Novelists set I. Vol. 5. 111-18. Bhavani, J.
  • “Is Shashi Deshpande a Feminist” Literary Journal (Stella Maris College, Madras 1992-93: 24-29.
  • King, Adeli, “Shashi Deshpnade: Portraits of an Indian Woman” Kirpal The New Indian Novel in English 159-68.
  • Naryan. Shyamala A. Shashi Deshpande: “Contemporary Novelists 5th ed. 1991. 241-42.
  • Pathak, R.S. (ed.) The Fiction of Shashi D. New Delhi Creative Books, 1997.
  • Sathupati, Prasanasree “Conflict and identity in Shashi Deshpande Novels Dhawan. Indian Woman ovelist Set III. Vol 4. 12-19.
  • Suneel Seema. Man-Woman Relationship in Indian Fiction. New Delhi: Prestige Books. 1995.

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