Wednesday, 7 December 2011


Dr. D. B. GAVANI Award winning writer Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni In her first full-length novel, The Mistress of spices, adopts a more complex strategy for portraying diasporic Identity. She makes use of fable in order to explore the various kinds of problems encountered by immigrants. Who come to the promised land of silver pavements and golden roofs. Divakaruni herself says for what reason, she has written this novel: "I wrote in a spirit of play, collapsing the divisions between the realistic world of twentieth century America and the timeless one of myth and magic in my attempt to create a modern fable."1 In this novel the first person narrative has been adopted from the perspective of Tilo or Tilotama, who has trained to extract the essence of the spices and make them to alleviate pain, solve problems and help people live better lives. The Mistress of spices -the deliberate gendering of the word to under cut the power associated with mastery supernatural powers is to be noted. She can presage disasters and look into the hearts of people, only in her hands "the spices sang back", her trainer, the 'old one', had told her signifying that Tilo would never be the submissive, compliant mistress thai she was expected to be. But Tilotama or Tilo as she calls herself, is not infallible sometimes the problems of the Diaspora are too convoluted for her to deal with. Tilo runs a spice store in Oakland, California. Where she has re created little India which boasts of all the spices that ever were even the lost ones. "I think I do not exaggerate when I say there is no other place in the world quite like this"2 She says of her store which attracts a large group of people for whom the place is reminiscent of home, a little oasis in their diasporic lives fraught with problems. The Mistress of spices feels that the Indians come to her store in quest of happiness: "All those voices, Hindioriya Assamese, Urdu, Tamil, English, layered one on the other like notes from tanpura, all those voices asking for happiness except no one seems to know where".3 But even within the structure of the fable Divakaruni has underscored opaque nature of national borders. The Mistress of spices is allowed by the powers that be to work magic only for the good of her own people- i.e., Indians. The others, they must go elsewhere for their need', the first mother, the senior perceptor, had warned her National boundaries become aggressive, all important in the Diaspora, as a way of defining identity, aliminality that marks the contours of one's experience, a platform for resisting co-optation by the dominant/hegemonic discourse. The spice store with its sacred, secret shelves functions as a geographical/textual space that is the repository of a monolithic national identity. The store represents a space for 'self indulgence'. "Dangerous for a brown people who come from elsewhere, to whom real Americans might say why?"4 The Mistress of spices is the benign spirit who hovers over Indians living in America. But for Divakaruni, assuaging the pain of diasporic life is more complex. Jaggi (Jagjit) is estranged and racially marked. A timid child, he is assaulted at school for not knowing English, for not belonging: "Talk English son of a bitch. Speak up nigger wetback asshole".5 Tilo's attempts at restoring confidence to the little boy combined with the pressures to conform transforms him into an aggressive young man who has been offered protection by a group of boys. In exchange they have asked him to 'carry this packet here, drop off this box there'. Jaggi is carrying out his duties conscientiously waiting to turn fourteen when he will get his coveted gift: "cold and black, shining and heavy with power in (his) hand, pulsing electric as life, as death (his) passport into real America."6 Tilo is shocked and wonders whether it is her spice-remedy, Jaggi's parents or America that have driven him to become a drug trafficker, who is perhaps on his way to becoming an armed gangster. The little boy has become jagjit by getting his back on those 'jeering voices, the spitting mouths, the hands; in the playground that had assaulted him. For every immigrant who makes it in America, assimilates and prospers economically. There are others who lose their jobs or worse, their children. In their introduction to an anthology of writings by South Asian in North America, Sunaina Maira and Rajni write: "For first -generation South Asians, issues of belonging become increasingly complicated the longer they stay in North America, and even more profoundly. Boundaries between ethnicities, class, gender and religion dissolve and re-emerge, as second generation South Asians....of contested identities and contested forms of belonging (or not belonging) in North America." The complexities of diasporic negotiations are underpinned by questions of identify, and Divakaruni novel tries to capture the nuances that contest the stereotypical images of South Asians as model minorities and unobtrusive citizens. The Mistress of spices offers a close look at a wide spectrum of Indians residing in the diaspora. Like in the composition of any community Indians too have the rich diasporic for whom perhaps the immigrant experience has been one of cultural dispossession and material acquisition: "The rich Indians descend from hills that twinkle brighter than stars..... Their cars gleam like waxed apples, glide like swans over the potholes outside my store." 8 But Tilo, the ministering angel, is more concerned with those who need her help. In continuum with the title, each chapter is named after a spice and discusses the trails and tribulations of an individual and the special characteristics of the spices for instance: "Each spice has day special to it..... color of day break and conch-shell sound. Turmeric the preserves, keeping foods safe in a land of.....heat and hunger. Turmeric the auspicious spice, placed on the....over coconuts at pujas, rubbed into borders of wedding saris."9 Thus, the reader gets the glimpses of spices into a range that surrounds the life of the diasporic Indian. Mrs. Ahuja's story is a story of dispossession. She left the settled, comfortable life at her father's house, when she was married to a violent man, an alcoholic who abuses her. Unhappy in domestic life, she wants to start again in America, but she cannot drown out those voices of conditioning that outlined womanly duties for her, 'the voices, we carried them all the way inside our heads". 10 The Mistress's tools can dismantle Ahuja's house but only when she, herself, is ready for the challenge; the Mistress helps Mrs. Ahuja She becomes Lalita by overthrowing the tyrannical structures that have weighed her down, compelled her to be brutally raped night after night by her husband. Lalita leaves her husbands and seeks refuge at abattered women's shelter. For Geeta, Tilo mixes several ingredients, ginger for deeper courage, fenugreek for healing breaks and 'amchur' for deciding right. Geeta's Predicament stems from the fact that, she is part of a paradigmatic diasporic family, where a clash between the first generation and second generation South Asians is inevitable. Her parents have 'given' plenty of independence, but they cannot accept her boy friend. In fact, they are horrified that, she would choose to be with a Chicano man and cut her off completely. Geeta, the second generation South Asian is not prepared for this volt face; she is shocked by the elements of reaction to Juan. Discussing the conflict between generations in the American Diaspora, Sunaina Maira and Rajni writes:"The relationship between the generations is complex and nuanced. Second - generation South Asians, having come of age in a post civil Rights era, often refuse to be treated as other by mainstream culture; at the same time many question the uncritical acceptance of the need for assimilation. The political involvement of the second generation, in its building of alliances with other people of color, often conflicts with the first generation's political agenda, which is typically more rooted in home - country interests". 11 For the second generation Indian like Geeta, the questions about identity are differently poised. She challenges continuous identification with patriarchal traditions which she associates with her grandfather. Tilo empathizes with Geeta, tries to assenge their pain and the novel tells us that she succeeds in restoring harmony within the family. Tilo or Tilotama, The Mistress of spices is really a young woman who is required by the dictates of the order to disguise herself as an old woman, thus accentuating her asexuality and inducing anonymity and restraint. She cannot be aware of her own body: "Once the Mistress has taken on her magic Mistress-body, she is never to look on her reflection again". 12 She is required to bury her own desires and prioritize those of others: "A Mistress must carve her own wanting out of her chest, must fill the hollow left behind with the needs of those she serves". 13 Tilo transgresses many boundaries for those who need her help, but she cannot be contained within this frame work. It is not hard to see that as in 'Arranged Marriage', Divakaruni is writing the script of women's rebellion against the pressure to suppress their desires and their bodies. The order of Mistresses clearly replicates patriarchal struggles and Tilo must be made to break free of them. She struggles with her own passions as she builds emotional relationship with a Native American man, whom she calls Raven. She transforms herself into a woman, feeling guilty about her "self indulgence", but decides to brave the retribution that she would have to face. At the level of body-politics, Tilo's re-formulations about her body, her desire to have a sexual relationship with Raven outside of institutional sanctions, go against the laws of the order of Mistresses. But, Tilo knows the danger, she is in. She can always sense it. Hence, she tells Raven, who wants to escape with her to an earthly Paradise: "Our love would never have lasted, for it was based upon fantasy, your and mine, of what it is to be Indian. To be American.... There is no earthly paradise. Except that we can make back there, in the soot, in the rubble, in the crisped-away flesh. In the guns and needles, the white drug dust, the young men and women lying down to dreams of wealth and power and wailing in cells, yes, in the hate, in the fear".14 However, the novel validates women's empowerment through articulation of their desires. As with her Protagonists in the shorts stories, Divakaruni argues for recognition of women's full control of their bodies. Once Tilo is in touch with her own sexuality, she can no longer assuage others pains or even see in to the future, but she can live the life of a young woman. The mistress has to extinguish herself in order that the woman find her voice, follow her desires and search for an identity outside of that of a ministering angel. She must leave her domain, the beautiful, organized spice store, in order to fulfill desire. At the end of the novel, Tilo becomes Maya, the young woman who has abandoned her special powers, "I who now have only myself to hold me up". 15 and found her new home through an act of cultural translation. The Mistress of spices adopts a more mature structural configuration in order to discuss the Diaspora. Each chapter contains a little vignette about an individual, about a cultural encounter. The stories are then braided together through the novel, the sublets shades caught and developments depicted. In the ways in which, the stories of lives are told and re-told, the text owes much too non- written cultural forms like story telling. A variety of cultural codes and icons are recognized as Tilo weaves her tapestry of different lives become implicated in the lives of Jaggi, Ahuja's wife, and Geeta, to name only a few. Sometimes Tilo asks the question that the audience would have verbalized. Discussing the role of the reader in a fictional form that parallels story telling, Abena Busia writes: "The act of reading becomes an exercise in identification – to recognize life experiences and historic transformations that point the way towards a celebration, a coming together attainable of the past, which are transformed into a gift for the future."16 Busia's comments made in the context of African American narratives are also applicable to the Indian context as well. This informal structure is significant as it woes those skeptical readers who may be alienated by the surreal nature of the central motif, a Prospero like figure solving the problems of diasporic Indians with spice concoctions. More importantly, the easy ambience that accompanies oral narratives allows the reader to almost interact, as it were, with the various characters in the novel and with the storyteller. Tilo, the form of the fable is effectively used in the novel. The 'fabulous' world of the mistress imparts a surreal quality to the novel; the order of the Mistress is and is not patriarchy; the structures overlap and specific histories coincide. One advantage of this literary model is that it continually confounds the category of realism; therefore the events in the novel cannot be processed as information. This is significant in a situation, where writers from South Asia and the Third world in general are mined for 'evidence' of oppression which can then be provided as 'proof of the regressive nature of these societies. Divakaruni's, The Mistress of spices refers its theme of magic realism, lengthy dialogues, and the characters, which touches the heart of the readers, as New Yorker Review Magazine says: "Divakaruni's prose is so pungent that it stains the page, yet beneath the sighs and smells of this brand of magic realism, she deftly introduces her true theme: how ability to accommodate desire enlivens not only the individual heart but a society cornered by change". 17 Divakaruni is fairly prolific as she has written many books in the past ten years: the market dynamics of the First world will make her work available to a large, cosmopolitan audience. Readings of her work produce new meanings and new sites of contestation. Therefore she cannot claim to be outside of the power struggling that revolves around the authenticity of voice within the Indian community in the diaspora. There are many versions of history being produced and the questions of history being produced and the questions of what's being said, by whom and who is representing who, becomes pertinent. However, Divakaruni's, The Mistress of spices gives plenty of sources on diasporic grounds. It enhances the Indian glory, into the past and present world. The intermingling of both cultures reflects more on Indian immigrants, who are curious of Indian land. The magical realism of the east, the exotic land viewed by western eyes, glance the Indian beauty of spices and their magic. The diasporic aspects which we come across in the Mistress of spices gives the sources of changing the names of characters, which the Indians all in alien shores, as Tilotama becomes Tilo, Jagjit becomes Jaggi, all these visions us the diasporic view, which we refer in this novel. Another basic and foremost aspect of diaspora is, Multiculturalism, as we have come across through the lives of Geeta, Jagjit and Mrs. Ahuja or Lalita. The South Asian diasporic writer, Chitra Divakaruni has attained considerable popularity and is sought after by the big publishing houses. This enhances the anxieties amongst critics and rightly so, as it points to voices that are not being heard or celebrated with same vigor. Divakaruni's texts are powerful and significant; they are particularly effective in mapping the contours of the new south Asian community in the United States. They provide a lens with which to view the struggle for identity amongst women and to develop a critique of patriarchal structures that organize the life of Indian Diasporas. Divakaruni provides all the Indian vision of cultural, traditional and moreover magical realism. Her immigrant experiences spells in her writings and evokes the Americans to see the richness of India and Indian spices, how they create magic in solving the problems of Indian Diasporas. The Problem of Immigrants: The problem of immigrants is always a pathetic world that creates the psyche of rootlessness and marginality moving from one homeland to another leading towards homelessness resulting in search for New Homes. Immigrant writers venture to investigate the discontent of new settlers making desperate attempts to seek their roots in distant cultural surrounding haunted by the lingering shadows of their homeland. Bill Ashcroft, an eminent postcolonial critic, has observes, "Whether it remains permanently disabling or, whether it becomes beginning of transformation of colonial discourse "is a pivot moment in post colonial cultures; since displacement turned into creative resistance" (Ashcroft: 3). Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni's The Mistress of Spices is basically a novel constructed on the lines of the technique of Magic Realism. In the background of myth, magic and romance, she presents a wide spectrum of the life and longing existing in the experiences of immigrants. The narrator in the novel is Tilo, a young woman born in another time in a faraway place. She is an expert in the ancient art of spices and is therefore respected as 'Mistress' charged with the special power of magic related with spices. With the passage of time she travels to Oakland, California where she manages a store of spices. She is well acquainted with the specific properties of each spice and recommends spices to her customers with meticulous advice of the curative value of those spices. In this galaxy of customers, once she gets fascinated with the personality of a young boy. With the romantic longing for him, She is supposed to lose control over her powers as the mistress of spices. Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni presents the 'store of spices' as the meeting point of all immigrants. She not only sells Indian spices to them but also inspires them to share their personal woes with her. The entire novel, The Mistress of Spices, has been classified with the names of different spices. In the early part of the novel, Tilo reveals her own past and her history of migration from the world of magic to the multicultural society of America. With all sympathy she shares the anguish and experience of immigrants who had chosen America as a land of their dreams. She declares her mission of life, "It seems right that I should have been here always, that I should understand without words their longing for the ways they chose to have behind when they chose America" (5). The very purpose of the store, she puts it, "The store is an excursion into the land of might have been. A self indulgence dangerous or a brown people who come from elsewhere to whom real Americans might say" (6). Through such an effort she seeks the fulfilment in her own life because her own vision of life is torn between the fragmentation of past and present. Divakaruni establishes that the twilight of "here' and 'there' hinders the process of 'wholeness'. It is said, "Space and Time takes on a complex significance because they are not fixed dimensions. There is an interplay between the memory of "there" and the time of "here". (Yocum, 1996, 222) Among Tilo's customers, the first customer is Ahuja's wife, a young and beautiful immigrant woman. The glamour of wealth fascinates her for a marriage with an American. Like other immigrant woman, she struggles with her own feelings of isolation and homelessness. Tilo realises that Ahuja's wife is a victim of cultural apathy and male domination. She tries to record her inner crisis, "All day at home, she is so lonely, the silence like quick sand sucking at her wrists and ankles, tears she cannot stop, disobedience tears spilled pomegranate seeds and Ahuja shouting when he returned home to her swollen eyes" (15). In her immigration, Ahuja's wife becomes more sensitive to her thwarted motherhood. Tilo, being a woman, has the realisation of the pain of immigrant woman who survives with double insecurity resisting the forces of gender apathy and cultural antagonism. She confesses, "This pain stung like ]|ive coats in my chest as the pirates plunge me onto the deck of their ship, as we took sail, as the flaming line of my homeland disappeared over the horizons" (19). Ahuja's wife survives in American society with the insecurity that she will never be able to get her roots there. Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, like women writers of Indian diaspora, articulates in her books, "the deepest fear and trauma faced by women in India and here (U.S.A.) show them emerging at least in many cases as stronger and self reliant woman" (Kamath: Interview). Tilo's sympathy remains only with women immigrants but also with the frustrated male immigrants like Jagjeet. Her store becomes a centre for Indian immigrants to relieve their pain and to redefine their position. In their pain, she recollects her own journey: how she was thrown on Dal Lake and was compelled to row Shikara for the pleasure of “American tourists. She was promised, "great things will happen to you in this new land, this America" (25). For Tilo the opportunity to share the anguish of immigrants becomes a defense mechanism, a safer outlet of her unexpressed fears and uncertainty. She declares her own mission, "I, Tilo, architect of American Dream." In American society, Indian immigrants consider themselves marginalised. Tilo tries to reveal the sensibility of Indian immigrants in contrast to the egocentric assertion of American identity. She admits, "It is not as if I haven't seen American. They come in here all the time, the professor type in tweed with patches on jacket elbows or in long skirts in earnest earth colors.”(69). There is a special reference to Geeta who was brought up by her grandparents with Indian moral values. Grandparents never compromise with liberal ways of personal relationship encouraged in America. They express their repugnance for the artificial make-up of Indian girls in America and prefer homespun values for Indian girls. Tilo tries to convince them that the amicable balance in the life of American immigrants is possible only through a fine synthesis of Indian and American styles of living. Geeta and her grandparents represent the two extreme sides of American life and sensibility. Tilo advises Geeta, "Who is India and America all mixed together into a new melody; be forgiving of an old man who holds an to his past with all the strength in his failing hand" (90). Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni admits that the presence of racial consciousness in the mind of immigrants shakes the feeling of otherness. She never felt herself in the mode of a complete identification. By and large, it is a distinction of the vision of Divakaruni in Mistress of Spices that she constructs the entire phenomenon with the ease and excitement of child without being a prey to self-imposed "otherness" often to be found in the life of immigrants and the underneath echoing voice of immigrant writers. Reference: 1. Qtd. Asian Review of books on Internet ( the mistress of spices) 2. Divakaruni, Chitra Banerjee's.The Mistress of spices, Abacus London, 1997 P-03 3. lbid.;P-78 4. lbid.;P-05 5. Ibid.; P-39 6. lbid.;P-120 7. lbid.;P-120 8. Contours of the Heart: South Asians Map North America, ed. Sunaina Maira and Rajni (New York, 1996), P 303. 9. Divakaruni, Chitra Banerjee's.’The Mistress of Spices’, Abacus London, 1997 P-75 10. Ibid.; P-78 11. lbid.;P- 12. lbid.;P-103 13. Contours of the Heart: South Asians Map North America, ed. Sunaina Maira and Rajni (New York, 1996) 14. Divakaruni, Chitra Banerjee's.The Mistress of spices, Abacus London, 1997 P-59 15. lbid.;P-69 16. lbid.;P- 70 17. Busia, Abena. "What is your Nation? Reconnecting Africa and Her Diaspora through Marshall's Praise song for the widow".Rutgers University Press. 1989).


Dr. D. B. Gavani C. B. Divakaruni a brilliant story teller; She eliminates the world with her artistry and shakes the reader with her love. Divakaruni profoundly exhibits the themes, such as Indianness, immigrant experiences, Sisterhood, Mysticism, Fantasy in her novels. She highlights the-cultural conflicts in the Indian diaspora. "We laugh - [for we have learned to laugh also, loudly and in your face.] we know we can have it all and are ready to fight for it ,we the Indian women in America. Watch us hold the world, like a great gold brown gulab jamun juicy and sweet as a promise in our land - and bite in."1 Divakaruni seems to say that if the Indian woman is to be relevant in the United States, she must ground her struggles in the heart of whiteness, rather than graft on cultural components which make no sense in the New World. They should re - invent their personality, which takes "The best of the both together" in order "to raise hell globally". C. B. Divakaruni, a woman with immense care on Indianness in her novels, depicts the Indian mysticism and fantasy and realism in her best selling novel, Sister of My Heart and The Vine of Desire, where she visualize on sisterhood, Womanhood and immigrant experiences through the lives of Anju and Sudha of Calcutta chaterjee family. An intensely rich and complex novel, Sister of My Heart is a virtual tapestry of plots. The underlying tension between the desires of the mothers, who embrace traditional Indian culture and Indianness and those of the cousins, who are more enticed by western philosophies are under the scrutiny. This western philosophy is the central evaluation of the work. The disturbing truth about the circumstances under which Sudha and Anju were born secretly tortures Sudha and weaves a menacing thread through the friendship. And, when the cousins fall in love and are physically separated by arranged marriages, their uncommon bond faces its hardest test. As the novel evolves we follow the women through their lives, experiencing their joy, sorrow, jealousy, loss, depression, surprised and prolonged separation and find that these battles and triumphs hold a universal thread with which women of many cultures can easily identify in the end, the strength of their friendship and the novel culminates in an emotional reunion, one filled not only with intense joy but also with lingering uncertainty as the Indianness is dealt with feminist approach to the novel. Sister of My Heart develops from the novelist's own consciousness on Indian concept of view - "The subtle dowry transactions, hectoring mothers - in - law, abusive fathers - in law, caring yet insensitive husbands" Characteristic of much writing on India and on women, the way in which Divakaruni focuses on what she calls "the particular nature of women's friendships, what makes them special and different", it is very much in the tradition of pre-feminist Bengali woman's fiction. Nevertheless, she is right about one thing at least: in the earlier days, women were unlikely to meet anyone due to orthodoxical religious bonds, where she visions not even other women were likely to meet another without the prior permission of their elders. But now due to the influence of western philosophies is somewhat flexible in Indian mindset. Divakaruni's Sister My Heart is in Indian contextual - Anju and Sudha are cousins belonging to the same patrilinear family and would obviously be called "sisters", not friends. Divakaruni has clearly addressed her novel to a western audience for whom this kind of bonding would be as foreign as this kind of family structure. Sister My Heart exhibits, in fact, many of the features of novels dealing with the bonds between sisters, such as Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility, Shoba De's - Sisters, which are part dealing on Indian feminine sensibility. Women's friendships in western fiction have undoubtedly suffered when women have weighed them against feminine duties and responsibilities towards parents, lovers and husbands and children women friendship is the main theme in Sister My Heart. More than a century later Toni Morrison set out to write what she believes is the first novel about female friendship: note how Morrison's comments anticipate Divakaruni's by about twenty years: "Friendship between women is special, different, and has never been depicted as the major theme of a novel before Sula. Nobody ever talked about friendship between women unless it was homosexual, and there is no homosexuality in Sula, Relationships between women were always written about as though they were subordinate to some other roles they're playing".2 Divakaruni focuses on self centered attitudes which are nevertheless be crossed the limitations, where no one can feel absolute freedom, for which they feel and act - no woman is desired to love and get married, as if it is a great deal of breaking religious and traditional bonds in Indian phenomenon. Even Sudha has to escape from such deal (eloping with Ashok and get married) and getting 'Arranged Marriage' with Ramesh. Divakaruni shows relevant issues which are of Indian mindset. The ancient epics Ramayana and Mahabharata, myths, folk tales are sources on which Divakaruni writes Indian mysticism in Sister of My Heart. Divakaruni gives references in her novel on myths i.e., "The princess in the palace of snakes": "Once there was a princess, who lived in an under water palace filled with snakes. The snakes were beautiful - green and yellow and gold and gentle. They fed her and played with her and sang her to sleep".3 The above resemblance of the myth is to show, how Anju loves Sudha very much, as Sudha is a princess and Anju herself a snake, to take care of Sudha. Here, Divakaruni wanted to portray how Indian myths are born and to picturises the world readers, about the richness of Indianness. Divakaruni emphasizes on Indian bridal preparations how they are trapped in religious and traditional motives.[Bride has to undergo the beauty tips] "Each morning we start eating almonds which have been soaked overnight in milk improve both our dispositions and our complexions and have yoga to our body, which calms our minds, applying turmeric to face and oil to hair, 'Nothing enhances a husband's affections like silk - soft skin', Aunt says to have the kamasutra like wisdom". 4 Indian cultural Heritage is immensely picturised in Divakaruni's novel Sister of My Heart, - which she narrates mythical aspects: "When a child is born, Bidhata Purush comes down to earth himself to decide, what its fate and fortune is to be religious ceremonials had a great attempt in describing Indian phenomenon."5 The simplicity of the plot also allows Divakaruni to more thoroughly explore themes of womanhood, such as the limits of female social and economic freedom as a wife in and outside of India. In addition, the novel focuses on female character forced to re – visit and re - frame common theories of Indian American female identity solely in terms of female - female relationships - Indian womanhood perceptive of Anju and Sudha. Sister of My Heart merely portrays the tradition, al Indian Hindu life, through the lives of Anju and Sudha, living in India and America -the cultural intermingling of their lives extracts foreign as well as Indian feelings and emotions. The Indian society or the social life of Indians are class of patriarchal and matriarchal grounds, but always male dominated society is revealed in Indian context, Sunil and Ramesh, who are dominated over their wives, [Anju and Sudha] are of Indian male egoism, on the other hand, Divakaruni speaks of Dayita, daughter of Sudha, who is orphanage with loosing her father shows the new will of womanhood, fighting for the right cause to hold on matriarchal grounds, Sudha is praised for breaking traditional bonds, by taking care of her own child on her shoulders. Amitav Ghosh's vision over Divakaruni's writings is for new generation, which depicts cultural and traditional grounds in new trend "C. B. Divakaruni's account of family life in Bengal is warm and rich by detailed. Hers is one of most strikingly lyrical voices writing about the lives of Indian woman today".6 Sister of My Heart spans many years and zigzags between India and America as the cousins first grow apart and then eventually reunite. Divakaruni invests this domestic drama with poetry, as she traces her heroine's lives from infancy to motherhood, but it is Sudha and Anju which is backbone of the story. Anju might spell for both when she says, "Inspite of all my insecurities, in spite of the oceans that'll be between us soon and the men that are between us already, I can never stop loving Sudha. It's my habit, and it's my fate".7 Divakaruni emphasizes on Indian abrupt culture i.e., abortion of female child, as we witness with Sudha, forced by her in - laws to get rid of having female child for this, she has to pay a high price, by giving divorce to her, Divakaruni sketches the Indian odd cultures which hurts the feeling of inner most sense on humanity grounds. Sister of My Heart is an emotional journey of love, jealousy, frustration, fear, and angerness of Anju and Sudha the family sentiments, reputation, clash of superiority and inferiority all which faces by Indian girls, Anju and Sudha. Divakaruni expertly juxtaposes the challenges, freedoms and crossness of modern - day America with the issues, both personal and cultural, each woman faces i.e. Indo - American relationships. Divakaruni's The Vine of Desire is a striking novel of extraordinary depth and sensitivity which is also considered as a sequel to her novel, Sister of My Heart. With sequels one can trace the growth of the characters, where immigrant experience is revealed through the lives of Anju and Sudha. The Vine of Desire is a story of two young women [Anju and Sudha] for from Calcutta, the city of their childhood, who after a year of living separate lives is rekindling their friendship in America. The deep - seated love they feel for each other provides the support they need: it gives Anju the strength to pick up the pieces after a personal tragedy, and Sudha the confidence to make life for herself and her baby daughter, Dayita - without her husband. The unlikely relationships they form with men and women in the world outside the immigrant Indian community as well as their families in India profoundly transform them, forcing them to question the central assumptions of their lives. The zeal of Indianness is seen in the vine of desire through the lives of Anju and Sudha. The immigrant experience between both shows the love and jealous, on foreign grounds where each one escaping from their bond of friendship and sisterhood: Divakaruni's The Vine of Desire is written in epistolary form, diary entries stream - of - conscious dream sequences - powerfully convey the pain and confusion Anju and Sudha feel during their moments of life - changing awareness. Her skillful use of different techniques and styles allow the reader a unique access into the complex consciousness of each of the characters including men, we discover, that Sunil isn't the womanizer portrayed in Sister of My Heart but a lonely man suffering from an absent father who has been afraid to take risks has led an incomplete life. Divakaruni's technical innovation, when the narrator attempts to describe the pre - language imaginings of the infant Dayita, can fall flat. This said, Divakaruni's The Vine of Desire is a powerful story that lifts characters from its pages and opens the reader's imagination to an emotionally rich landscape filled with the secrets, lies, truths and passions that tear people apart and bring them back together. Indian immigrants Sudha, Anju, Sunil fight for their intention of fulfilling desired ends by helping each other, depicts the Indian phenomenon of the Humanity. Anju, who is to take care of Sudha after getting in her life of American world for her future settlement, and Sudha too, look after Anju, who lost her child? Sunil is shown on sensitive grounds as Indian male character express their intentional fatherhood loves Dayita. Divakaruni's The Vine of Desire explores the real sense of Indianness, though the Indian immigrants are in America, Indian lives never forgets their motherland and love and affection towards it. When Sunil is indulged in the party celebrated by Mr. Chopra's family, Sunil made angry of listening abusive words from American guy, he slaps the guy, where the guy utters on Indians: "Fucking Indians, showing off What did you say? Hey, man, let go my arm! I asked, what did you say? Didn't say nothing to you, "Fucking Indians, huh"? Says Sunil "I will show you exactly how fucking Indians can be"8 The Vine of Desire's characters resembles in each other, Lalit, Trideep, Sara - are supported by giving Indian concept of living. Divakaruni wants to expose the Indian style of living in abroad, with their own identification which we say i.e., Indians and Indianness. Sunil, Anju and Sudha are involved in their own way of life to proceed for future securities in America, who are tackling the problems one another. The feel of motherland i.e., India and Indianness poses a great deal in Divakaruni's writings, where she visualize the Indian customs, traditions and even food and nature (atmosphere) of her birth place, she gives the description of Indian food, Dal, Parota, and more on pickles. Indian costumes like Sari, Kurta, Paijama, Indian flowers Jasmine and the traditional and religious symbols i.e., wearing Bangles, Bindi and Sindhur at the levels of immigrant experience, where all these are not found in American culture. Divakaruni emphasizes on Indian movies before the foreign audience to portray what Indian movies are, through the life of Anju. When one of the women writer's in group asks Anju, to watch the movie, its Indian of you Anju stiffens slightly and gives the answer - as Indian movies and directors are, "No, we don't eat monkey brains or bugs either. Yes, we do worship Goddess kali, but no not usually by sacrificing beautiful virgins. Yes we do have street children. Yes they really live hard lives. Yes the police are brutal. Yes famine happens, and then people starve. Yes widows are often repressed wives also. But here's a lot more to India than what you've seeing here, there's."9 The Vine of Desire is a novel of extra ordinary depth and sensitivity. Through the eyes of people caught in the clash of cultures, Divakaruni reveals the rewards and the perils of breaking free from the past and the complicated often contradictory emotions that shape the women's passage to independence, where they struggle for individual identity in alien shore i.e., American right of living as we say Indo-American relationships. The Vine of Desire, as we felt that unfortunately almost from the beginning we found ourselves not only being irritated in the way she presented the story but actively disliking one of the main characters, Anju. It seemed that whatever situation she was placed in, made her bitterer and angrier. Through her character, we feel as though the author had succumbed to the temptation of creating an image of India and its society, as backward, miserable, and oppressive. Through Anju, the reader has made to feel as though what happened to her was the result of centuries of tradition. (The arranged marriage process, the need to have child but feeling guilty because she really didn't feel she wanted one; then feeling guilty and beating up on herself figuratively - when she loses the baby) gone wrong; that if she had come from a different society (namely, western society seem as more progressively forward thinking), she would not have gone through the emotions and reactions that she went through, her own task of imagination is seen through Indo - American cultures. Divakaruni's ‘Sister of My Heart’ and ‘The Vine of Desire’ are two novels which merely depicts both Indian and western cultures and philosophies where, sister of my Heart stands for Indian Hindu life and traditional, religious perceptive. The vine of desire is a novel of immigrant in alien shores. The Vine of Desire is sequel to Sister of My Heart. Sister of My Heart emphasizes on Indian traditional customs and duties and attitudes of Indians. The Vine of Desire reflects only Indian motivation of life in America. Both the novels give relevantly immense sources to collect the idea of Indianness to the world readers. Divakaruni highlights the beauty and charm of Indianness and immigrant life in foreign land, fighting for their identification. Exceptionally moving, dramatic, and exquisitely rendered, Sister of My Heart is a passionate novel about the extraordinary bond between two women, and the jealousies love, and family histories that threaten to tear them apart. The Vine of Desire force the reader to reexamine his or her views on adultery, divorce and marriage where Ashok tries several times to propose and get married to Sudha but she often refuses on the other hand, Sunil, who infatuated towards Sudha, tries to give divorce to Anju but marriage seems to be noble cause in their lives. Sister of My Heart is a novel of story telling frequently, with long chapters and often myth, tradition fantasy is seen, while, in the developing of the characters and enhance on Indian families, social, economic and religious life of India and its phenomenon. Where as The Vine of Desire evaluates, only the Indian form and its approach through the immigrants, Anju, Sudha and Sunil all the lives which are interlinking with each other falls in chaos and confusion regarding their central assumptions of their lives. The Vine of Desire is a novel of epistolary exchange, technical writing of third narrative person, interior monologue, and prologue. Characters are hanging between their lives of identification. Sister of My Heart is somewhat different, where its narrative technique is of first person narrative long narrative dialogues and characters are more comparing to The Vine of Desire. The dual novels deals compares and contrast the Indian mindset, where Indianness is a fragrance in Indo - American literature. Divakaruni picturizes the Indian concept and its context to a great extent. At the heart of Chitra Divakaruni's novels, Sister of My Heart and The Vine of Desire, is the belief that story telling not only lights the path for succeeding generations but also possesses shamanistic powers. Both speaker and listener may be healed or transformed, cursed of freed. For the Chaterjee's, an upper - caste Calcutta family fallen on hard times, but tenaciously remaining in their decaying mansion of mystery and faded glory. Story telling is a lifetime cast from aunt to niece, mother to daughter, cousin to cousin, past to present, and the life of immigrant experience in the book's climax, continent to continent. As critics view on Divakaruni's writings: "Divakaruni is gifted with dramatic inventiveness, lyrical, sensual language, where she depicts the beauty of India and Indianness and womanhood in her writings and writing on immigrant experience on alien shores". 10 Divakaruni's both novels Sister of My Heart and The Vine of Desire are the magical prose. These stories within stories, with their sights and smells and enchanted imagery transport the reader to India that is at once timeless and evocative of the present day. Theblend of realism, fantasy, mysticism on Indianness is visualized through Divakaruni's writings, in one way or the other the Indian phenomenon is seen in both Indian and American literatures by immigrant writer as Divakaruni is. Reference: 1. Divakaruni, Chitra Banerjee's poem, "We the Indian Women in America". Pg: 268. 2. Morrison, Toni. Sula. Ny. Knopf, 1974. 3. Divakaruni, Chitra Banerjee's, Sister of My Heart. Black swan 1999. p. 101 4. .Ibid. P.108. 5. Ibid., P.15 6. Qtd. Amitav Ghosh on Internet ( of my heart) 7. Divakaruni, Chitra Banerjee's, Sister of My Heart. Black swan 1999.p.2l4 8. Divakaruni, Chitra Banerjee's, The Vine of Desire, Abacus London 2003 , P. 138 9. Ibid. P.214 10. Qtd., Los Angles Times on Internet ( vine of desire)

Thursday, 20 October 2011

KING LEAR - William Shakespeare

King Lear - The aging king of Britain and the protagonist of the play. Lear is used to enjoying absolute power and to being flattered, and he does not respond well to being contradicted or challenged. At the beginning of the play, his values are notably hollow—he prioritizes the appearance of love over actual devotion and wishes to maintain the power of a king while unburdening himself of the responsibility. Nevertheless, he inspires loyalty in subjects such as Gloucester, Kent, Cordelia, and Edgar, all of whom risk their lives for him. Cordelia - Lear’s youngest daughter, disowned by her father for refusing to flatter him. Cordelia is held in extremely high regard by all of the good characters in the play—the king of France marries her for her virtue alone, overlooking her lack of dowry. She remains loyal to Lear despite his cruelty toward her, forgives him, and displays a mild and forbearing temperament even toward her evil sisters, Goneril and Regan. Despite her obvious virtues, Cordelia’s reticence makes her motivations difficult to read, as in her refusal to declare her love for her father at the beginning of the play. Read an in-depth analysis of Cordelia. Goneril - Lear’s ruthless oldest daughter and the wife of the duke of Albany. Goneril is jealous, treacherous, and amoral. Shakespeare’s audience would have been particularly shocked at Goneril’s aggressiveness, a quality that it would not have expected in a female character. She challenges Lear’s authority, boldly initiates an affair with Edmund, and wrests military power away from her husband. Read an in-depth analysis of Goneril. Regan - Lear’s middle daughter and the wife of the duke of Cornwall. Regan is as ruthless as Goneril and as aggressive in all the same ways. In fact, it is difficult to think of any quality that distinguishes her from her sister. When they are not egging each other on to further acts of cruelty, they jealously compete for the same man, Edmund. Read an in-depth analysis of Regan. Gloucester - A nobleman loyal to King Lear whose rank, earl, is below that of duke. The first thing we learn about Gloucester is that he is an adulterer, having fathered a bastard son, Edmund. His fate is in many ways parallel to that of Lear: he misjudges which of his children to trust. He appears weak and ineffectual in the early acts, when he is unable to prevent Lear from being turned out of his own house, but he later demonstrates that he is also capable of great bravery. Edgar - Gloucester’s older, legitimate son. Edgar plays many different roles, starting out as a gullible fool easily tricked by his brother, then assuming a disguise as a mad beggar to evade his father’s men, then carrying his impersonation further to aid Lear and Gloucester, and finally appearing as an armored champion to avenge his brother’s treason. Edgar’s propensity for disguises and impersonations makes it difficult to characterize him effectively. Edmund - Gloucester’s younger, illegitimate son. Edmund resents his status as a bastard and schemes to usurp Gloucester’s title and possessions from Edgar. He is a formidable character, succeeding in almost all of his schemes and wreaking destruction upon virtually all of the other characters. Kent - A nobleman of the same rank as Gloucester who is loyal to King Lear. Kent spends most of the play disguised as a peasant, calling himself “Caius,” so that he can continue to serve Lear even after Lear banishes him. He is extremely loyal, but he gets himself into trouble throughout the play by being extremely blunt and outspoken. Albany - The husband of Lear’s daughter Goneril. Albany is good at heart, and he eventually denounces and opposes the cruelty of Goneril, Regan, and Cornwall. Yet he is indecisive and lacks foresight, realizing the evil of his allies quite late in the play. Cornwall - The husband of Lear’s daughter Regan. Unlike Albany, Cornwall is domineering, cruel, and violent, and he works with his wife and sister-in-law Goneril to persecute Lear and Gloucester. Fool - Lear’s jester, who uses double-talk and seemingly frivolous songs to give Lear important advice. Oswald - The steward, or chief servant, in Goneril’s house. Oswald obeys his mistress’s commands and helps her in her conspiracies. King Lear Lear’s basic flaw at the beginning of the play is that he values appearances above reality. He wants to be treated as a king and to enjoy the title, but he doesn’t want to fulfill a king’s obligations of governing for the good of his subjects. Similarly, his test of his daughters demonstrates that he values a flattering public display of love over real love. He doesn’t ask “which of you doth love us most,” but rather, “which of you shall we say doth love us most?” (1.1.49). Most readers conclude that Lear is simply blind to the truth, but Cordelia is already his favorite daughter at the beginning of the play, so presumably he knows that she loves him the most. Nevertheless, Lear values Goneril and Regan’s fawning over Cordelia’s sincere sense of filial duty. An important question to ask is whether Lear develops as a character—whether he learns from his mistakes and becomes a better and more insightful human being. In some ways the answer is no: he doesn’t completely recover his sanity and emerge as a better king. But his values do change over the course of the play. As he realizes his weakness and insignificance in comparison to the awesome forces of the natural world, he becomes a humble and caring individual. He comes to cherish Cordelia above everything else and to place his own love for Cordelia above every other consideration, to the point that he would rather live in prison with her than rule as a king again. Cordelia Cordelia’s chief characteristics are devotion, kindness, beauty, and honesty—honesty to a fault, perhaps. She is contrasted throughout the play with Goneril and Regan, who are neither honest nor loving, and who manipulate their father for their own ends. By refusing to take part in Lear’s love test at the beginning of the play, Cordelia establishes herself as a repository of virtue, and the obvious authenticity of her love for Lear makes clear the extent of the king’s error in banishing her. For most of the middle section of the play, she is offstage, but as we observe the depredations of Goneril and Regan and watch Lear’s descent into madness, Cordelia is never far from the audience’s thoughts, and her beauty is venerably described in religious terms. Indeed, rumors of her return to Britain begin to surface almost immediately, and once she lands at Dover, the action of the play begins to move toward her, as all the characters converge on the coast. Cordelia’s reunion with Lear marks the apparent restoration of order in the kingdom and the triumph of love and forgiveness over hatred and spite. This fleeting moment of familial happiness makes the devastating finale of King Lear that much more cruel, as Cordelia, the personification of kindness and virtue, becomes a literal sacrifice to the heartlessness of an apparently unjust world. Edmund Of all of the play’s villains, Edmund is the most complex and sympathetic. He is a consummate schemer, a Machiavellian character eager to seize any opportunity and willing to do anything to achieve his goals. However, his ambition is interesting insofar as it reflects not only a thirst for land and power but also a desire for the recognition denied to him by his status as a bastard. His serial treachery is not merely self-interested; it is a conscious rebellion against the social order that has denied him the same status as Gloucester’s legitimate son, Edgar. “Now, gods, stand up for bastards,” Edmund commands, but in fact he depends not on divine aid but on his own initiative (1.2.22). He is the ultimate self-made man, and he is such a cold and capable villain that it is entertaining to watch him work, much as the audience can appreciate the clever wickedness of Iago in Othello. Only at the close of the play does Edmund show a flicker of weakness. Mortally wounded, he sees that both Goneril and Regan have died for him, and whispers, “Yet Edmund was beloved” (5.3.238). After this ambiguous statement, he seems to repent of his villainy and admits to having ordered Cordelia’s death. His peculiar change of heart, rare among Shakespearean villains, is enough to make the audience wonder, amid the carnage, whether Edmund’s villainy sprang not from some innate cruelty but simply from a thwarted, misdirected desire for the familial love that he witnessed around him. Goneril and Regan There is little good to be said for Lear’s older daughters, who are largely indistinguishable in their villainy and spite. Goneril and Regan are clever—or at least clever enough to flatter their father in the play’s opening scene—and, early in the play, their bad behavior toward Lear seems matched by his own pride and temper. But any sympathy that the audience can muster for them evaporates quickly, first when they turn their father out into the storm at the end of Act 2 and then when they viciously put out Gloucester’s eyes in Act 3. Goneril and Regan are, in a sense, personifications of evil—they have no conscience, only appetite. It is this greedy ambition that enables them to crush all opposition and make themselves mistresses of Britain. Ultimately, however, this same appetite brings about their undoing. Their desire for power is satisfied, but both harbor sexual desire for Edmund, which destroys their alliance and eventually leads them to destroy each other. Evil, the play suggests, inevitably turns in on itself. Themes, Motifs & Symbols Themes Themes are the fundamental and often universal ideas explored in a literary work. Justice King Lear is a brutal play, filled with human cruelty and awful, seemingly meaningless disasters. The play’s succession of terrible events raises an obvious question for the characters—namely, whether there is any possibility of justice in the world, or whether the world is fundamentally indifferent or even hostile to humankind. Various characters offer their opinions: “As flies to wanton boys are we to the gods; / They kill us for their sport,” Gloucester muses, realizing it foolish for humankind to assume that the natural world works in parallel with socially or morally convenient notions of justice (4.1.37–38). Edgar, on the other hand, insists that “the gods are just,” believing that individuals get what they deserve (5.3.169). But, in the end, we are left with only a terrifying uncertainty—although the wicked die, the good die along with them, culminating in the awful image of Lear cradling Cordelia’s body in his arms. There is goodness in the world of the play, but there is also madness and death, and it is difficult to tell which triumphs in the end. Authority versus Chaos King Lear is about political authority as much as it is about family dynamics. Lear is not only a father but also a king, and when he gives away his authority to the unworthy and evil Goneril and Regan, he delivers not only himself and his family but all of Britain into chaos and cruelty. As the two wicked sisters indulge their appetite for power and Edmund begins his own ascension, the kingdom descends into civil strife, and we realize that Lear has destroyed not only his own authority but all authority in Britain. The stable, hierarchal order that Lear initially represents falls apart and disorder engulfs the realm. The failure of authority in the face of chaos recurs in Lear’s wanderings on the heath during the storm. Witnessing the powerful forces of the natural world, Lear comes to understand that he, like the rest of humankind, is insignificant in the world. This realization proves much more important than the realization of his loss of political control, as it compels him to re-prioritize his values and become humble and caring. With this newfound understanding of himself, Lear hopes to be able to confront the chaos in the political realm as well. Reconciliation Darkness and unhappiness pervade King Lear, and the devastating Act 5 represents one of the most tragic endings in all of literature. Nevertheless, the play presents the central relationship—that between Lear and Cordelia—as a dramatic embodiment of true, self-sacrificing love. Rather than despising Lear for banishing her, Cordelia remains devoted, even from afar, and eventually brings an army from a foreign country to rescue him from his tormentors. Lear, meanwhile, learns a tremendously cruel lesson in humility and eventually reaches the point where he can reunite joyfully with Cordelia and experience the balm of her forgiving love. Lear’s recognition of the error of his ways is an ingredient vital to reconciliation with Cordelia, not because Cordelia feels wronged by him but because he has understood the sincerity and depth of her love for him. His maturation enables him to bring Cordelia back into his good graces, a testament to love’s ability to flourish, even if only fleetingly, amid the horror and chaos that engulf the rest of the play. Motifs Motifs are recurring structures, contrasts, and literary devices that can help to develop and inform the text’s major themes. Madness Insanity occupies a central place in the play and is associated with both disorder and hidden wisdom. The Fool, who offers Lear insight in the early sections of the play, offers his counsel in a seemingly mad babble. Later, when Lear himself goes mad, the turmoil in his mind mirrors the chaos that has descended upon his kingdom. At the same time, however, it also provides him with important wisdom by reducing him to his bare humanity, stripped of all royal pretensions. Lear thus learns humility. He is joined in his real madness by Edgar’s feigned insanity, which also contains nuggets of wisdom for the king to mine. Meanwhile, Edgar’s time as a supposedly insane beggar hardens him and prepares him to defeat Edmund at the close of the play. Betrayal Betrayals play a critical role in the play and show the workings of wickedness in both the familial and political realms—here, brothers betray brothers and children betray fathers. Goneril and Regan’s betrayal of Lear raises them to power in Britain, where Edmund, who has betrayed both Edgar and Gloucester, joins them. However, the play suggests that betrayers inevitably turn on one another, showing how Goneril and Regan fall out when they both become attracted to Edmund, and how their jealousies of one another ultimately lead to mutual destruction. Additionally, it is important to remember that the entire play is set in motion by Lear’s blind, foolish betrayal of Cordelia’s love for him, which reinforces that at the heart of every betrayal lies a skewed set of values. Symbols Symbols are objects, characters, figures, and colors used to represent abstract ideas or concepts. The Storm As Lear wanders about a desolate heath in Act 3, a terrible storm, strongly but ambiguously symbolic, rages overhead. In part, the storm echoes Lear’s inner turmoil and mounting madness: it is a physical, turbulent natural reflection of Lear’s internal confusion. At the same time, the storm embodies the awesome power of nature, which forces the powerless king to recognize his own mortality and human frailty and to cultivate a sense of humility for the first time. The storm may also symbolize some kind of divine justice, as if nature itself is angry about the events in the play. Finally, the meteorological chaos also symbolizes the political disarray that has engulfed Lear’s Britain. Blindness Gloucester’s physical blindness symbolizes the metaphorical blindness that grips both Gloucester and the play’s other father figure, Lear. The parallels between the two men are clear: both have loyal children and disloyal children, both are blind to the truth, and both end up banishing the loyal children and making the wicked one(s) their heir(s). Only when Gloucester has lost the use of his eyes and Lear has gone mad does each realize his tremendous error. It is appropriate that the play brings them together near Dover in Act 4 to commiserate about how their blindness to the truth about their children has cost them dearly. Summary: Act 1, scene 1 Unhappy that I am, I cannot heave My heart into my mouth. The play begins with two noblemen, Gloucester and Kent, discussing the fact that King Lear is about to divide his kingdom. Their conversation quickly changes, however, when Kent asks Gloucester to introduce his son. Gloucester introduces Edmund, explaining that Edmund is a bastard being raised away from home, but that he nevertheless loves his son dearly. Lear, the ruler of Britain, enters his throne room and announces his plan to divide the kingdom among his three daughters. He intends to give up the responsibilities of government and spend his old age visiting his children. He commands his daughters to say which of them loves him the most, promising to give the greatest share to that daughter. Lear’s scheming older daughters, Goneril and Regan, respond to his test with flattery, telling him in wildly overblown terms that they love him more than anything else. But Cordelia, Lear’s youngest (and favorite) daughter, refuses to speak. When pressed, she says that she cannot “heave her heart into her mouth,” that she loves him exactly as much as a daughter should love her father, and that her sisters wouldn’t have husbands if they loved their father as much as they say (1.1.90–91). In response, Lear flies into a rage, disowns Cordelia, and divides her share of the kingdom between her two sisters. The earl of Kent, a nobleman who has served Lear faithfully for many years, is the only courtier who disagrees with the king’s actions. Kent tells Lear he is insane to reward the flattery of his older daughters and disown Cordelia, who loves him more than her sisters do. Lear turns his anger on Kent, banishing him from the kingdom and telling him that he must be gone within six days. The king of France and duke of Burgundy are at Lear’s court, awaiting his decision as to which of them will marry Cordelia. Lear calls them in and tells them that Cordelia no longer has any title or land. Burgundy withdraws his offer of marriage, but France is impressed by Cordelia’s honesty and decides to make her his queen. Lear sends her away without his blessing. Goneril and Regan scheme together in secrecy. Although they recognize that they now have complete power over the kingdom, they agree that they must act to reduce their father’s remaining authority. Summary: Act 1, scene 2 Thou, nature, art my goddess; to thy law My services are bound. … Now, gods, stand up for bastards! Edmund enters and delivers a soliloquy expressing his dissatisfaction with society’s attitude toward bastards. He bitterly resents his legitimate half-brother, Edgar, who stands to inherit their father’s estate. He resolves to do away with Edgar and seize the privileges that society has denied him. Edmund begins his campaign to discredit Edgar by forging a letter in which Edgar appears to plot the death of their father, Gloucester. Edmund makes a show of hiding this letter from his father and so, naturally, Gloucester demands to read it. Edmund answers his father with careful lies, so that Gloucester ends up thinking that his legitimate son, Edgar, has been scheming to kill him in order to hasten his inheritance of Gloucester’s wealth and lands. Later, when Edmund talks to Edgar, he tells him that Gloucester is very angry with him and that Edgar should avoid him as much as possible and carry a sword with him at all times. Thus, Edmund carefully arranges circumstances so that Gloucester will be certain that Edgar is trying to murder him. Summary: Act 1, scene 3 Lear is spending the first portion of his retirement at Goneril’s castle. Goneril complains to her steward, Oswald, that Lear’s knights are becoming “riotous” and that Lear himself is an obnoxious guest (1.3.6). Seeking to provoke a confrontation, she orders her servants to behave rudely toward Lear and his attendants. Summary: Act 1, scene 4 Disguised as a simple peasant, Kent appears in Goneril’s castle, calling himself Caius. He puts himself in Lear’s way, and after an exchange of words in which Caius emphasizes his plainspokenness and honesty, Lear accepts him into service. Lear’s servants and knights notice that Goneril’s servants no longer obey their commands. When Lear asks Oswald where Goneril is, Oswald rudely leaves the room without replying. Oswald soon returns, but his disrespectful replies to Lear’s questions induce Lear to strike him. Kent steps in to aid Lear and trips Oswald. The Fool arrives and, in a series of puns and double entendres, tells Lear that he has made a great mistake in handing over his power to Goneril and Regan. After a long delay, Goneril herself arrives to speak with Lear. She tells him that his servants and knights have been so disorderly that he will have to send some of them away whether he likes it or not. Lear is shocked at Goneril’s treasonous betrayal. Nonetheless, Goneril remains adamant in her demand that Lear send away half of his one hundred knights. An enraged Lear repents ever handing his power over to Goneril. He curses his daughter, calling on Nature to make her childless. Surprised by his own tears, he calls for his horses. He declares that he will stay with Regan, whom he believes will be a true daughter and give him the respect that he deserves. When Lear has gone, Goneril argues with her husband, Albany, who is upset with the harsh way she has treated Lear. She says that she has written a letter to her sister Regan, who is likewise determined not to house Lear’s hundred knights. Summary: Act 1, scene 5 Lear sends Kent to deliver a message to Gloucester. The Fool needles Lear further about his bad decisions, foreseeing that Regan will treat Lear no better than Goneril did. Lear calls on heaven to keep him from going mad. Lear and his attendants leave for Regan’s castle. Summary: Act 2, scene 1 In Gloucester’s castle, Gloucester’s servant Curan tells Edmund that he has informed Gloucester that the duke of Cornwall and his wife, Regan, are coming to the castle that very night. Curan also mentions vague rumors about trouble brewing between the duke of Cornwall and the duke of Albany. Edmund is delighted to hear of Cornwall’s visit, realizing that he can make use of him in his scheme to get rid of Edgar. Edmund calls Edgar out of his hiding place and tells him that Cornwall is angry with him for being on Albany’s side of their disagreement. Edgar has no idea what Edmund is talking about. Edmund tells Edgar further that Gloucester has discovered his hiding place and that he ought to flee the house immediately under cover of night. When he hears Gloucester coming, Edmund draws his sword and pretends to fight with Edgar, while Edgar runs away. Edmund cuts his arm with his sword and lies to Gloucester, telling him that Edgar wanted him to join in a plot against Gloucester’s life and that Edgar tried to kill him for refusing. The unhappy Gloucester praises Edmund and vows to pursue Edgar, sending men out to search for him. Cornwall and Regan arrive at Gloucester’s house. They believe Edmund’s lies about Edgar, and Regan asks if Edgar is one of the disorderly knights that attend Lear. Edmund replies that he is, and Regan speculates further that these knights put Edgar up to the idea of killing Gloucester in order to acquire Gloucester’s wealth. Regan then asks Gloucester for his advice in answering letters from Lear and Goneril. Summary: Act 2, scene 2 Outside Gloucester’s castle, Kent, still in peasant disguise, meets Oswald, the chief steward of Goneril’s household. Oswald doesn’t recognize Kent from their scuffle in Act 1, scene 4. Kent roundly abuses Oswald, describing him as cowardly, vain, boastful, overdressed, servile, and groveling. Oswald still maintains that he doesn’t know Kent; Kent draws his sword and attacks him. Oswald’s cries for help bring Cornwall, Regan, and Gloucester. Kent replies rudely to their calls for explanation, and Cornwall orders him to be punished in the stocks, a wooden device that shackles a person’s ankles and renders him immobile. Gloucester objects that this humiliating punishment of Lear’s messenger will be seen as disrespectful of Lear himself and that the former king will take offense. But Cornwall and Regan maintain that Kent deserves this treatment for assaulting Goneril’s servant, and they put him in the stocks. After everyone leaves, Kent reads a letter that he has received from Cordelia in which she promises that she will find some way, from her current position in France, to help improve conditions in Britain. The unhappy and resigned Kent dozes off in the stocks. Summary: Act 2, scene 3 As Kent sleeps in the stocks, Edgar enters. He has thus far escaped the manhunt for him, but he is afraid that he will soon be caught. Stripping off his fine clothing and covering himself with dirt, he turns himself into “poor Tom” (2.3.20). He states that he will pretend to be one of the beggars who, having been released from insane asylums, wander the countryside constantly seeking food and shelter. Summary: Act 2, scene 4 Lear, accompanied by the Fool and a knight, arrives at Gloucester’s castle. Lear spies Kent in the stocks and is shocked that anyone would treat one of his servants so badly. When Kent tells him that Regan and Cornwall put him there, Lear cannot believe it and demands to speak with them. Regan and Cornwall refuse to speak with Lear, however, excusing themselves on the grounds that they are sick and weary from traveling. Lear insists. He has difficulty controlling his emotions, but he finally acknowledges to himself that sickness can make people behave strangely. When Regan and Cornwall eventually appear, Lear starts to tell Regan about Goneril’s “sharp-toothed unkindness” toward him (2.4.128). Regan suggests that Goneril may have been justified in her actions, that Lear is growing old and unreasonable, and that he should return to Goneril and beg her forgiveness. Lear asks Regan to shelter him, but she refuses. He complains more strenuously about Goneril and falls to cursing her. Much to Lear’s dismay, Goneril herself arrives at Gloucester’s castle. Regan, who had known from Goneril’s letters that she was coming, takes her sister’s hand and allies herself with Goneril against their father. They both tell Lear that he is getting old and weak and that he must give up half of his men if he wants to stay with either of his daughters. Lear, confused, says that he and his hundred men will stay with Regan. Regan, however, responds that she will allow him only twenty-five men. Lear turns back to Goneril, saying that he will be willing to come down to fifty men if he can stay with her. But Goneril is no longer willing to allow him even that many. A moment later, things get even worse for Lear: both Goneril and Regan refuse to allow him any servants. Outraged, Lear curses his daughters and heads outside, where a wild storm is brewing. Gloucester begs Goneril and Regan to bring Lear back inside, but the daughters prove unyielding and state that it is best to let him do as he will. They order that the doors be shut and locked, leaving their father outside in the threatening storm. Summary: Act 3, scene 1 A storm rages on the heath. Kent, seeking Lear in vain, runs into one of Lear’s knights and learns that Lear is somewhere in the area, accompanied only by his Fool. Kent gives the knight secret information: he has heard that there is unrest between Albany and Cornwall and that there are spies for the French in the English courts. Kent tells the knight to go to Dover, the city in England nearest to France, where he may find friends who will help Lear’s cause. He gives the knight a ring and orders him to give it to Cordelia, who will know who has sent the knight when she sees the ring. Kent leaves to search for Lear. Summary: Act 3, scene 2 Meanwhile, Lear wanders around in the storm, cursing the weather and challenging it to do its worst against him. He seems slightly irrational, his thoughts wandering from idea to idea but always returning to fixate on his two cruel daughters. The Fool, who accompanies him, urges him to humble himself before his daughters and seek shelter indoors, but Lear ignores him. Kent finds the two of them and urges them to take shelter inside a nearby hovel. Lear finally agrees and follows Kent toward the hovel. The Fool makes a strange and confusing prophecy. Summary: Act 3, scene 3 Inside his castle, a worried Gloucester speaks with Edmund. The loyal Gloucester recounts how he became uncomfortable when Regan, Goneril, and Cornwall shut Lear out in the storm. But when he urged them to give him permission to go out and help Lear, they became angry, took possession of his castle, and ordered him never to speak to Lear or plead on his behalf. Gloucester tells Edmund that he has received news of a conflict between Albany and Cornwall. He also informs him that a French army is invading and that part of it has already landed in England. Gloucester feels that he must take Lear’s side and now plans to go seek him out in the storm. He tells Edmund that there is a letter with news of the French army locked in his room, and he asks his son to go and distract the duke of Cornwall while he, Gloucester, goes onto the heath to search for Lear. He adds that it is imperative that Cornwall not notice his absence; otherwise, Gloucester might die for his treachery. When Gloucester leaves, Edmund privately rejoices at the opportunity that has presented itself. He plans to betray his father immediately, going to Cornwall to tell him about both Gloucester’s plans to help Lear and the location of the traitorous letter from the French. Edmund expects to inherit his father’s title, land, and fortune as soon as Gloucester is put to death. Summary: Act 3, scene 4 Kent leads Lear through the storm to the hovel. He tries to get him to go inside, but Lear resists, saying that his own mental anguish makes him hardly feel the storm. He sends his Fool inside to take shelter and then kneels and prays. He reflects that, as king, he took too little care of the wretched and homeless, who have scant protection from storms such as this one. The Fool runs out of the hovel, claiming that there is a spirit inside. The spirit turns out to be Edgar in his disguise as Tom O’Bedlam. Edgar plays the part of the madman by complaining that he is being chased by a devil. He adds that fiends possess and inhabit his body. Lear, whose grip on reality is loosening, sees nothing strange about these statements. He sympathizes with Edgar, asking him whether bad daughters have been the ruin of him as well. Lear asks the disguised Edgar what he used to be before he went mad and became a beggar. Edgar replies that he was once a wealthy courtier who spent his days having sex with many women and drinking wine. Observing Edgar’s nakedness, Lear tears off his own clothes in sympathy. Gloucester, carrying a torch, comes looking for the king. He is unimpressed by Lear’s companions and tries to bring Lear back inside the castle with him, despite the possibility of evoking Regan and Goneril’s anger. Kent and Gloucester finally convince Lear to go with Gloucester, but Lear insists on bringing the disguised Edgar, whom he has begun to like, with him. Summary: Act 3, scene 5 Inside Gloucester’s castle, Cornwall vows revenge against Gloucester, whom Edmund has betrayed by showing Cornwall a letter that proves Gloucester’s secret support of a French invasion. Edmund pretends to be horrified at the discovery of his father’s “treason,” but he is actually delighted, since the powerful Cornwall, now his ally, confers upon him the title of earl of Gloucester (3.5.10). Cornwall sends Edmund to find Gloucester, and Edmund reasons to himself that if he can catch his father in the act of helping Lear, Cornwall’s suspicions will be confirmed. Summary: Act 3, scene 6 Gloucester, Kent, Lear, and the Fool take shelter in a small building (perhaps a shed or farmhouse) on Gloucester’s property. Gloucester leaves to find provisions for the king. Lear, whose mind is wandering ever more widely, holds a mock trial of his wicked daughters, with Edgar, Kent, and the Fool presiding. Both Edgar and the Fool speak like madmen, and the trial is an exercise in hallucination and eccentricity. Gloucester hurries back in to tell Kent that he has overheard a plot to kill Lear. Gloucester begs Kent to quickly transport Lear toward Dover, in the south of England, where allies will be waiting for him. Gloucester, Kent, and the Fool leave. Edgar remains behind for a moment and speaks in his own, undisguised voice about how much less important his own suffering feels now that he has seen Lear’s far worse suffering. Summary: Act 3, scene 7 Back in Gloucester’s castle, Cornwall gives Goneril the treasonous letter concerning the French army at Dover and tells her to take it and show it to her husband, Albany. He then sends his servants to apprehend Gloucester so that Gloucester can be punished. He orders Edmund to go with Goneril to Albany’s palace so that Edmund will not have to witness the violent punishment of his father. Oswald brings word that Gloucester has helped Lear escape to Dover. Gloucester is found and brought before Regan and Cornwall. They treat him cruelly, tying him up like a thief, insulting him, and pulling his white beard. Cornwall remarks to himself that he cannot put Gloucester to death without holding a formal trial but that he can still punish him brutally and get away with it. Admitting that he helped Lear escape, Gloucester swears that he will see Lear’s wrongs avenged. Cornwall replies, “See ’t shalt thou never,” and proceeds to dig out one of Gloucester’s eyes, throw it on the floor, and step on it (3.7.68). Gloucester screams, and Regan demands that Cornwall put out the other eye too. One of Gloucester’s servants suddenly steps in, saying that he cannot stand by and let this outrage happen. Cornwall draws his sword and the two fight. The servant wounds Cornwall, but Regan grabs a sword from another servant and kills the first servant before he can injure Cornwall further. Irate, the wounded Cornwall gouges out Gloucester’s remaining eye. Gloucester calls out for his son Edmund to help him, but Regan triumphantly tells him that it was Edmund who betrayed him to Cornwall in the first place. Gloucester, realizing immediately that Edgar was the son who really loved him, laments his folly and prays to the gods to help Edgar. Regan and Cornwall order that Gloucester be thrown out of the house to “smell / His way to Dover” (3.7.96–97). Cornwall, realizing that his wound is bleeding heavily, exits with Regan’s aid. Left alone with Gloucester, Cornwall’s and Regan’s servants express their shock and horror at what has just happened. They decide to treat Gloucester’s bleeding face and hand him over to the mad beggar to lead Gloucester where he will. Summary: Act 4, scene 1 As flies to wanton boys are we to the gods; They kill us for their sport. Edgar talks to himself on the heath, reflecting that his situation is not as bad as it could be. He is immediately presented with the horrifying sight of his blinded father. Gloucester is led by an old man who has been a tenant of both Gloucester and Gloucester’s father for eighty years. Edgar hears Gloucester tell the old man that if he could only touch his son Edgar again, it would be worth more to him than his lost eyesight. But Edgar chooses to remain disguised as Poor Tom rather than reveal himself to his father. Gloucester asks the old man to bring some clothing to cover Tom, and he asks Tom to lead him to Dover. Edgar agrees. Specifically, Gloucester asks to be led to the top of the highest cliff. Summary: Act 4, scene 2 Goneril and Edmund arrive outside of her palace, and Goneril expresses surprise that Albany did not meet them on the way. Oswald tells her that Albany is displeased with Goneril’s and Regan’s actions, glad to hear that the French army had landed, and sorry to hear that Goneril is returning home. Goneril realizes that Albany is no longer her ally and criticizes his cowardice, resolving to assert greater control over her husband’s military forces. She directs Edmund to return to Cornwall’s house and raise Cornwall’s troops for the fight against the French. She informs him that she will likewise take over power from her husband. She promises to send Oswald with messages. She bids Edmund goodbye with a kiss, strongly hinting that she wants to become his mistress. As Edmund leaves, Albany enters. He harshly criticizes Goneril. He has not yet learned about Gloucester’s blinding, but he is outraged at the news that Lear has been driven mad by Goneril and Regan’s abuse. Goneril angrily insults Albany, accusing him of being a coward. She tells him that he ought to be preparing to fight against the French invaders. Albany retorts by calling her monstrous and condemns the evil that she has done to Lear. A messenger arrives and delivers the news that Cornwall has died from the wound that he received while putting out Gloucester’s eyes. Albany reacts with horror to the report of Gloucester’s blinding and interprets Cornwall’s death as divine retribution. Meanwhile, Goneril displays mixed feelings about Cornwall’s death: on the one hand, it makes her sister Regan less powerful; on the other hand, it leaves Regan free to pursue Edmund herself. Goneril leaves to answer her sister’s letters. Albany demands to know where Edmund was when his father was being blinded. When he hears that it was Edmund who betrayed Gloucester and that Edmund left the house specifically so that Cornwall could punish Gloucester, Albany resolves to take revenge upon Edmund and help Gloucester. Summary: Act 4, scene 3 Kent, still disguised as an ordinary serving man, speaks with a gentleman in the French camp near Dover. The gentleman tells Kent that the king of France landed with his troops but quickly departed to deal with a problem at home. Kent’s letters have been brought to Cordelia, who is now the queen of France and who has been left in charge of the army. Kent questions the gentleman about Cordelia’s reaction to the letters, and the gentleman gives a moving account of Cordelia’s sorrow upon reading about her father’s mistreatment. Kent tells the gentleman that Lear, who now wavers unpredictably between sanity and madness, has also arrived safely in Dover. Lear, however, refuses to see Cordelia because he is ashamed of the way he treated her. The gentleman informs Kent that the armies of both Albany and the late Cornwall are on the march, presumably to fight against the French troops. Summary: Act 4, scene 4 Cordelia enters, leading her soldiers. Lear has hidden from her in the cornfields, draping himself in weeds and flowers and singing madly to himself. Cordelia sends one hundred of her soldiers to find Lear and bring him back. She consults with a doctor about Lear’s chances for recovering his sanity. The doctor tells her that what Lear most needs is sleep and that there are medicines that can make him sleep. A messenger brings Cordelia the news that the British armies of Cornwall and Albany are marching toward them. Cordelia expected this news, and her army stands ready to fight. Summary: Act 4, scene 5 Back at Gloucester’s castle, Oswald tells Regan that Albany’s army has set out, although Albany has been dragging his feet about the expedition. It seems that Goneril is a “better soldier” than Albany (4.5.4). Regan is extremely curious about the letter that Oswald carries from Goneril to Edmund, but Oswald refuses to show it to her. Regan guesses that the letter concerns Goneril’s love affair with Edmund, and she tells Oswald plainly that she wants Edmund for herself. Regan reveals that she has already spoken with Edmund about this possibility; it would be more appropriate for Edmund to get involved with her, now a widow, than with Goneril, with whom such involvement would constitute adultery. She gives Oswald a token or a letter (the text doesn’t specify which) to deliver to Edmund, whenever he may find him. Finally, she promises Oswald a reward if he can find and kill Gloucester. Summary: Act 4, scene 6 Still disguised, Edgar leads Gloucester toward Dover. Edgar pretends to take Gloucester to the cliff, telling him that they are going up steep ground and that they can hear the sea. Finally, he tells Gloucester that they are at the top of the cliff and that looking down from the great height gives him vertigo. He waits quietly nearby as Gloucester prays to the gods to forgive him. Gloucester can no longer bear his suffering and intends to commit suicide. He falls to the ground, fainting. Edgar wakes Gloucester up. He no longer pretends to be Poor Tom but now acts like an ordinary gentleman, although he still doesn’t tell Gloucester that he is his son. Edgar says that he saw him fall all the way from the cliffs of Dover and that it is a miracle that he is still alive. Clearly, Edgar states, the gods do not want Gloucester to die just yet. Edgar also informs Gloucester that he saw the creature who had been with him at the top of the cliff and that this creature was not a human being but a devil. Gloucester accepts Edgar’s explanation that the gods have preserved him and resolves to endure his sufferings patiently. Lear, wandering across the plain, stumbles upon Edgar and Gloucester. Crowned with wild flowers, he is clearly mad. He babbles to Edgar and Gloucester, speaking both irrationally and with a strange perceptiveness. He recognizes Gloucester, alluding to Gloucester’s sin and source of shame—his adultery. Lear pardons Gloucester for this crime, but his thoughts then follow a chain of associations from adultery to copulation to womankind, culminating in a tirade against women and sexuality in general. Lear’s disgust carries him to the point of incoherence, as he deserts iambic pentameter (the verse form in which his speeches are written) and spits out the words “Fie, fie, fie! pah! pah!” (4.6.126). Cordelia’s people enter seeking King Lear. Relieved to find him at last, they try to take him into custody to bring him to Cordelia. When Lear runs away, Cordelia’s men follow him. Oswald comes across Edgar and Gloucester on the plain. He does not recognize Edgar, but he plans to kill Gloucester and collect the reward from Regan. Edgar adopts yet another persona, imitating the dialect of a peasant from the west of England. He defends Gloucester and kills Oswald with a cudgel. As he dies, Oswald entrusts Edgar with his letters. Gloucester is disappointed not to have been killed. Edgar reads with interest the letter that Oswald carries to Edmund. In the letter, Goneril urges Edmund to kill Albany if he gets the opportunity, so that Edmund and Goneril can be together. Edgar is outraged; he decides to keep the letter and show it to Albany when the time is right. Meanwhile, he buries Oswald nearby and leads Gloucester off to temporary safety. Summary: Act 4, scene 7 In the French camp, Cordelia speaks with Kent. She knows his real identity, but he wishes it to remain a secret to everyone else. Lear, who has been sleeping, is brought in to Cordelia. He only partially recognizes her. He says that he knows now that he is senile and not in his right mind, and he assumes that Cordelia hates him and wants to kill him, just as her sisters do. Cordelia tells him that she forgives him for banishing her. Meanwhile, the news of Cornwall’s death is repeated in the camp, and we learn that Edmund is now leading Cornwall’s troops. The battle between France and England rapidly approaches. Summary: Act 5, scene 1 In the British camp near Dover, Regan asks Edmund if he loves Goneril and if he has found his way into her bed. Edmund responds in the negative to both questions. Regan expresses jealousy of her sister and beseeches Edmund not to be familiar with her. Abruptly, Goneril and Albany enter with their troops. Albany states that he has heard that the invading French army has been joined by Lear and unnamed others who may have legitimate grievances against the present government. Despite his sympathy toward Lear and these other dissidents, Albany declares that he intends to fight alongside Edmund, Regan, and Goneril to repel the foreign invasion. Goneril and Regan jealously spar over Edmund, neither willing to leave the other alone with him. The three exit together. Just as Albany begins to leave, Edgar, now disguised as an ordinary peasant, catches up to him. He gives Albany the letter that he took from Oswald’s body—the letter in which Goneril’s involvement with Edmund is revealed and in which Goneril asks Edmund to kill Albany. Edgar tells Albany to read the letter and says that if Albany wins the upcoming battle, he can sound a trumpet and Edgar will provide a champion to defend the claims made in the letter. Edgar vanishes and Edmund returns. Edmund tells Albany that the battle is almost upon them, and Albany leaves. Alone, Edmund addresses the audience, stating that he has sworn his love to both Regan and Goneril. He debates what he should do, reflecting that choosing either one would anger the other. He decides to put off the decision until after the battle, observing that if Albany survives it, Goneril can take care of killing him herself. He asserts menacingly that if the British win the battle and he captures Lear and Cordelia, he will show them no mercy. Summary: Act 5, scene 2 The battle begins. Edgar, in peasant’s clothing, leads Gloucester to the shelter of a tree and goes into battle to fight on Lear’s side. He soon returns, shouting that Lear’s side has lost and that Lear and Cordelia have been captured. Gloucester states that he will stay where he is and wait to be captured or killed, but Edgar says that one’s death occurs at a predestined time. Persuaded, Gloucester goes with Edgar. Summary: Act 5, scene 3 Howl, howl, howl, howl! O, you are men of stones . . . Edmund leads in Lear and Cordelia as his prisoners. Cordelia expects to confront Regan and Goneril, but Lear vehemently refuses to do so. He describes a vividly imagined fantasy, in which he and Cordelia live alone together like birds in a cage, hearing about the outside world but observed by no one. Edmund sends them away, giving the captain who guards them a note with instructions as to what to do with them. He doesn’t make the note’s contents clear to the audience, but he speaks ominously. The captain agrees to follow Edmund’s orders. Albany enters accompanied by Goneril and Regan. He praises Edmund for his brave fighting on the British side and orders that he produce Lear and Cordelia. Edmund lies to Albany, claiming that he sent Lear and Cordelia far away because he feared that they would excite the sympathy of the British forces and create a mutiny. Albany rebukes him for putting himself above his place, but Regan breaks in to declare that she plans to make Edmund her husband. Goneril tells Regan that Edmund will not marry her, but Regan, who is unexpectedly beginning to feel sick, claims Edmund as her husband and lord. Albany challenges Edmund to defend himself against the charge in a trial by combat, and he sounds the trumpet to summon his champion. While Regan, who is growing ill, is helped to Albany’s tent, Edgar appears in full armor to accuse Edmund of treason and face him in single combat. Edgar defeats Edmund, and Albany cries out to Edgar to leave Edmund alive for questioning. Goneril tries to help the wounded Edmund, but Albany brings out the treacherous letter to show that he knows of her conspiracy against him. Goneril rushes off in desperation. Edgar takes off his helmet and reveals his identity. He reconciles with Albany and tells the company how he disguised himself as a mad beggar and led Gloucester through the countryside. He adds that he revealed himself to his father only as he was preparing to fight Edmund and that Gloucester, torn between joy and grief, died. A gentleman rushes in carrying a bloody knife. He announces that Goneril has committed suicide. Moreover, she fatally poisoned Regan before she died. The two bodies are carried in and laid out. Kent enters and asks where Lear is. Albany recalls with horror that Lear and Cordelia are still imprisoned and demands from Edmund their whereabouts. Edmund repents his crimes and determines to do good before his death. He tells the others that he had ordered that Cordelia be hanged and sends a messenger to try to intervene. Lear enters, carrying the dead Cordelia in his arms: the messenger arrived too late. Slipping in and out of sanity, Lear grieves over Cordelia’s body. Kent speaks to Lear, but Lear barely recognizes him. A messenger enters and reveals that Edmund has also died. Lear asks Edgar to loosen Cordelia’s button; then, just as Lear thinks that he sees her beginning to breathe again, he dies. Albany gives Edgar and Kent their power and titles back, inviting them to rule with him. Kent, feeling himself near death, refuses, but Edgar seems to accept. The few remaining survivors exit sadly as a funeral march plays.

Sunday, 17 July 2011


Prof.S.D.Balaji Rao
Dept. of English,
BEMS Arts &Com.
College, BYADGI.
His new bicycle was moving very fast down the slope of the black, straight tar road. He was sitting very comfortably on the smooth sponge cushion seat and his feet, with worn out slippers, were kept firmly on the pedals. The ‘trrrr….trrrrr…’ sound of the clutch- wheel of the bicycle was like a melodious music to his ears. Hearing the sound, he slowly slipped in to the world of trance. He never had expected that a happy moment in his life like this of riding a new bicycle would come to him. He was fed up with the sound ‘ rup…tup…’ of his very feeble, worn out slippers while walking from his home to his office and back every day on the road. Whenever some riders drove their bicycles beside him, he would feel very sad. Because he thought that he would never get such an opportunity of riding a bicycle, at least once, in his life time. But what is to be done? For everything one should have luck. Every month, after getting the payment, adjusting the family budget was a great circus for him. He had to set the money for the necessities of his wife and children. On the day of his salary he and his wife would sit together to set the salary to the expenses of rent, milk, groceries, books, fees ctc,.
But a glorious day came in his family like spring after winter in nature. He felt exited when he was informed by the superintendent of the office that arrears of fifteen hundred rupees were remitted to his account in the bank. After drawing some money from his account, he went straight to the market and bought a loaf of bread, half a kilogram of grapes and some flowers and came home. It was a great surprise to his wife and children for he never had brought home such things so far. Anyhow, dragging an old iron chair he sat on it like a king as if he had done a great thing. The chair creaked ‘krrrrr…..rrrr….’ Bending a little he examined the chair and thought to himself that it was too old to keep at home. He decided to throw it off and buy a new fiber chair. He slowly raised his head and looked at his children. They were happily enjoying the taste of grapes and bread. Further, he turned his attention towards the dresses of his children. His wife had stitched the torn parts very dexterously here and there. “Oh! I must get new cloths for children from Babulal’s Cloth Shop today” he said to himself.

“What! Would you like to sit like a maharaja on this old chair today? Don’t you want to drink your evening tea now?” He came to the reality when his wife obstructed him holding the tea cup in her hand.
“Not only tea but bread also. Get me a piece of bread. I’ll dip it in the tea and eat it today”, he said changing his position on the old chair. ‘turrrr…rrr…’ the usual sound from the chair filled the room. His wife gave a piece of bread and tea. He took it from her and dipped the bread and sat enjoying tea with bread. His wife sat in a corner to stitch her torn out sari.
“Don’t you remember that I had told you a month back that some arrears amount is due to me? Today I have brought it from the bank. See here….. Fifteen hundred rupees…… You do one thing. You get ready. We will go to the market and buy a new fiber kursi and cloths for our children. What do you say?!” he said. Though his wife felt happy, when she heard her husband’s words, she did not like his idea.
“What necessity is there for you to buy a new kursi and sit on it like an officer? Even you need not bring new cloths for kids. I’ll manage it anyhow……First you get a new bicycle… I can’t see you walking every day to the office”, she said suppressing his idea.
He felt that the idea of his wife was right. Every day he had to walk half a mile to reach the office and while coming back in the evening he would be dog tired. In fact, it was not a great distance that he would walk. But as he was a peon in the office, he had to keep standing through out the day. It was his duty to carry hundreds of files from one table to another. Even it was not a great task for him. But in the office many superiors would assign many works to him. “Go and get me half a pack Bristol cigarette”, one would say. “Take this money and bring me areca nut and pan” another would order. “I will give you a cheque, get the money from the bank while you are coming back”, the office manager would say. Thus he was assigned a dozen of works and for all those he had to go by walk. By the time he finished them all, he would lose all the strength in his legs. In the evening, after locking up all the doors, he would return as if he had fought a great war. When he reached home he would be so tired that he had no mood to speak either to his wife or children.

He accepted the suggestion of his wife. It was Sunday. He bought a new bicycle and kept it in front of his house. His children and wife seemed to have an extra energy in their veins. Even a small ceremony of pooja was performed for the new bicycle. His children had already informed all the people in the lane about their new bicycle.
Next day, getting up very early in the morning, he got a fresh shave and went to the office riding his own new bicycle. His wife stood at the front door of the house and looked at the sight of her husband riding the new bicycle till he disappeared at the corner of the road. She felt an inexpressible joy in her heart.
In no time, the news of his new bicycle spread in the office. The senior employees were very happy not because that he has bought a bicycle but because they could assign some urgent and important tasks like getting gas cylinders, bringing groceries and taking their children to the schools in case of emergency. Earlier they would not assign such responsibilities to him. But now, as he has a vehicle of his own, they thought that they could.
It was Saturday. It was a market day of the town. He took his bicycle and went to the vegetable market. On the way he met his senior office clerk.

“Ohoho! What Eerappa ? Going to the market? … It’s good. Anyhow you have got your new bicycle, haven’t you? So you do one thing. Go to our Nadaf Kirani Shop. There I have kept a small bag of rice. You bring it to our house on your bicycle. I have told them in the shop that I would send you there. Can you?” asked the clerk.
“You don’t worry sir, I’ll do it”, Eerappa said and moved towards the market on his bicycle.
Near the vegetable market there was a big peepal tree. Usually people would park their cycles, scooters and motor-cycles under the tree before entering the busy, crowded vegetable market. Eerappa parked his bicycle under the tree. He kicked the spring of the stand of the bicycle to confirm himself if it is alright. Then he took the plastic bags which were striped red and yellow from the handle of the bicycle and shouldered him into the crowed vegetable market.

After an hour he came back with brinjals, sweet gourd, drum sticks, onion, carrot, tomato etc, in one bag and rice, wheat and other cereals in another. But when he came to the spot where he had parked his bicycle, it was not there. He looked here and there. “Are?!.... I had parked my bicycle here itself”, he said to himself. He was perplexed and scared. His felt his head reeling and his legs losing their strength. But slowly he managed to recover himself. Further, he enquired some people who had come there to take their vehicles about his bicycle. No! Nobody knew. People gathered around him. They asked him hundred questions. He tried his best to answer their questions. But he could not. Suggestions- free of cost began to flow profusely towards him. Some began explaining their own experiences to the persons standing beside them.
“Was it locked or not”, asked a young man with a mobile in his hand.
He nodded his head to suggest him that he had not.
“Oh! It is sure that some rouge has stolen it and gone”, declared the young man keeping his mobile into a small pouch which he had stuck in his belt.
“You don’t leave it. Straight away you go to the police station and give a complaint. Thefts have been increasing now a days in the town”, said a middle aged man with pyjamas, setting his black cap on his head and left the place after giving his valuable suggestion. By that time there came Shivya who was Eerappa’s bosom friend. No sooner did he know the matter than he took Eerappa towards the direction of the police station. Like a lamb going to the altar, Eerappa followed Shivya to the police station.
“Namaskara sir”, both uttered the words and hesitatingly entered the chamber of sub-inspector of the crime branch…. first Sivya and then Eerappa.
“Hum. Why didyu come? Wats the matter?” asked the head constable glaring at them.
“Today he had parked his new bicycle under that papal tree near the Eerbhadra temple that is near the vegetable market and had gone to buy vegetable. Some one has stolen it and gone. Therefore we have come to give a complete” Shivya said in one breath.
“At watime? Wasn’t it locked?” interrupted a constable standing nearby.

“No…. Sahib……It didn’t flash to my head. It was…my new….new… bicycle sahib. Only a week back I had bought it. Full one thousand five hundred rupees I had thrown for it, sir”. Eerappa said stammering.
“Your house is destroyed. You say that you paid one and a half thousand. Didn’t you know that it should properly be locked?” interrogated the head constable authoritatively. Hum……alright…..give a complaint. We’ll find the thief and drag him kicking. Understand” said the head constable with an air of conformity.
Eerappa had never gone to the school. He stood blinking and scratching his head. At last he looked at his friend not knowing how to give a complaint.
“You get it written for uverself sir. He don’t know anything. He is a thumber” Shivya said laughing and exhibiting his teeth turned red because of chewing pan supari.
The head constable looked at the constable enigmatically.
“What? You say that we have to write the compliant for you and also find the burglar. It needs some money. Who will bear the expenses for it?” asked the constable.
Shivya and Eerappa looked at each other utterly confused.
“Don’t worry sir, anyhow we will manage it. How can we get the bicycle back if we look into the expenses? Our Eerappa will bear the expenses. What duyu say, Eerappa?” Shivya asked.
Both Shivya and Eerappa came out of the chamber and discussed something. Taking out a fifty rupee note from his pocket Erappa said,” Hum…..take this. I had barrowed hundred rupees from our office manager in the morning today. See…here, only fifty rupee is left after the purchase of the vegetables”.
Shivya took the money and giving it to the constable said, “Please take this sir and do whatever you want and our Eerappa should have his bicycle back. That’s all”.
“All right. Now you can go. But remember that you should come here whenever summoned”, the head constable ordered.

It was 9 o’clock when Eerappa reached home. He kept the vegetables bag near the wall and sat on the old iron chair. The chair creaked ‘trrr…’ In the bag the leaves of the turnip were withered and hanging out.
“Where is the bicycle? Where did you leave it?” the wife who had observed her husband coming home without bicycle asked a little agitated.
“It is all because of you only. That day I told you that we would better buy a new kursi and new dresses to our children. Did you listen to my words”? All of a sudden he shouted at her.
“If you shout like that how do I know the matter? Why don’t you explain it clearly?” retorted his wife angrily.
“It is nothing else. Our cycle is lost. I had kept it under the tree near Eeranna’s gudi. Someone has stolen it. What else? It is all our Fate” he said desperately.
The news was like a thunder bolt to her. She did not know what to say. Her sorrow rushed out from her heart in the form of tears and started rolling down on her cheeks. Eerappa was sitting silently on the chair. The children were in sound sleep. He saw the smooth skin of the body through the torn parts of their dresses. He moved a little to change his posture on the chair. It sounded as usual. He looked at it and felt very sad. He then looked at his wife who was sobbing. He could not control his feeling of sorrow. He began to weep silently. His eyes were filled with tears.
“Let it go…… Please you don’t weep……Gents shedding tears is not good for the family……. Please control yourself” said his wife sobbing.
The next day as usual he got ready and went to the office by walk. The incident of the previous day was all like a dream. The news of the theft of his bicycle was already spread in the office. They spoke a few words of sympathy. Days rolled into weeks and weeks into months. He was still going to the office by walk every day.
One day he was sipping his morning. He heard somebody calling his name. He got up and went towards the front door. Two policemen were in the civil dress?!
“You are Eerappa?” asked one of them.
Eerappa, who was a little amazed, nodded his head and suggested them that he was.

“Our sahib has told that you must come to the station. You must come urgently. Don’t delay. Did you understand?” saying this much they rode on their bicycles.
Thinking that his bicycle must have been traced and he could bring it back home, he immediately went to the police station. There he saluted the head constable and stood looking at him interrogatively.
“Oh! Eerappa…..come…come. See…. we have traced your bicycle and the thief also. But now you have to put a signature on this paper that’s all” looking at him the head constable said. He put a blank white paper before him. Eerappa put his signature. He was so eager to have a glance at his bicycle that he started looking here and there in the yard of the station.
“We can’t give it to you right now. You will have to get it released from the court. But it is not a great thing” said a policeman very easily.
He was suddenly depressed because he thought that he would go home riding his bicycle. Moreover he could not understand the meaning of the word ‘release’ which the head constable had uttered. So he stood dumb founded. The policeman understood that he has not grasped the point. So he explained him all about the legal procedure and told that ‘release’ means getting the bicycle to his possession. ‘Yes, a man who can wait till the rice is prepared, can’t he wait till it is cooled?’ he thought and straight away went home. Told all about the matter to his wife and asked her to get a cup of tea for him. After having the tea he went to the corner where use to keep the slippers. He gazed at them. They were fully worn out in the sole. He wore them and went out to meet the lawyer whom he knew well.
He explained in detail all about his bicycle from the beginning to the end requested the lawyer to get his bicycle released. The lawyer has already understood the point.
“Well the matter is understood. Anyway you want your property back. Isn’t it? You want to carry it back home. That’s all .But… is not as easy as you think. You see here Eerappa…….You will have to pay fees for it…….What do you say?” the lawyer asked very slowly.

“I’m ready to pay the fees. But I want my new bicycle back. How much will be your fees?” he asked the lawyer thinking that the fees might come around some fifty rupees.

“How can I say about it now itself…. Eerappa? Some records are to be prepared for it. So I need four days for the same. Well I’ll do it for myself. At present you give me five hundred rupees.
The words were like thunder to the ears of Eerappa. He felt as if a big boulder has dashed against him. But suddenly recovering himself he spoke humbly, “I’m……I’m very poor, please make some concession for me… sir, and show some mercy on this sinner…pli….please…..sir”.
Don’t I know about you? Eerappa….I’m very sorry….. It’s for you that I’m charging you only this much. Do you know how much I would take for a case like this?” said the lawyer pretending to be very sympathetic.
Eerappa fumbled in his pocket. Only two hundred rupees were left of the month’s salary. In the morning when he was sipping his tea his wife had told him about the fever of the daughter and told him to bring the medicine. But when he was about to go to the medical shop, the policemen had come. So he had gone to the station in a hurry. He had completely forgotten about the medicine. In the evening he went to meet the lawyer and had come late at night. Now he made up his mind. He took out two one hundred rupees notes and gave them to the lawyer. For the other three hundred rupees, he assured that he would give them in the next month’s salary and walked back in the darkness of the night to his home.
When he reached his home it was 9 O’clock. His wife was sitting on the edge of the torn mat beside her and putting a piece of cloth dipped in cold water on the forehead of the child. The son had already slept on the same mat. The mother had forgotten to cover him with a blanket as she was seriously concerned in treating the daughter. He entered the house and saw the child. He came near the child in panic and touched the body of the girl. It was burning. He stood silently bowing his head and after a minute or two he took a blanket which was torn in the middle and put it on the sleeping son. Then he sat on the old iron chair. The chair as usual creaked and ‘kurrr’ sound filled the whole house in the silence of the night. He felt very bad for not bringing the medicine. The money which he had kept with him was very safe with the lawyer.
Something flashes in his mind. He got up suddenly from the chair. Washed his legs and hands in the bath room and came back. He searched his shirt pocket and found one rupee coin. He washed it and putting it in front of the photo of Lord Hanuman in a small self in the wall of the house he said, “O God it is your responsibility to protect my daughter. When she is cured we will come to your temple and offer double coconuts”. Next he came and sat beside the daughter. He heard the loud sound of the whistle of the police who had come on their night beet. He touched the head of the daughter. The fever was diminished and there were beads of perspiration on the forehead. Now he was relived of his tension. He slept there on the edge of the same mat.
Next day evening he was returning with his wife and children from the Hanuman temple. Suddenly a car came very fast and halted beside him on the road. He looked in to the car and saw his lawyer. Immediately he saluted him. “What Eerappa, you seem to be very happy today? Oh! What? Had you been to the market for purchasing with your family? Ok. Let it be. You see, tomorrow there is your case in the court. Come to the court. Don’t forget” warned the lawyer peeping his neck out of the car. The lawyer drove the car and went very fast. Eerappa stood still and looked in to the direction of the car. “Earlier the lawyer had an old scooter but now in its place a frog shaped car has come” he thought to himself and then walked on with his small family towards his house.
Variety of people was walking up and down on the court campus. Each one had his case- murder, theft, quarrel, cheating….etc. Many had come there like him to get their property released through the court. The sight of lawyers wearing black coats and clients following them carrying their brief cases was common. Some were taking their clients to the nearby hotels discussing some thing and some were coming out of the hotel after having sumptuous food. Anyway hundreds were being diluted in to tens and tens in to mere coins. Eerappa had applied for a leave and had come to the court. He was sitting on a stone bench and simply observing the people in the premises of the court. At last he saw his lawyer coming towards him. He got up and went towards him. “The judge is on leave. Your case is adjourned. I will inform you later and then you have to come. Understand” the lawyer said and went away. Eerappa came back to his home.

The same thing had happened since two months. His case had come for the enquiry. For one or the other reason the case would be postponed. But the lawyer had already taken his fees in full.
At last one day his case came for the discussion. Entering in to the stable he saluted the judge and holding the Holy Book he said as the lawyer had trained him “I speak only the Truth and nothing else”. He answered aptly to prove that the bicycle was his own. Further there were some arguments between the lawyers in English which he could not make out. He was then asked to come out of the stable. He came out of the hall and sat on the same stone bench where he used to sit and waited for his lawyer. At last he saw his lawyer coming out of the court keeping his black coat on his left arm. He got up and went towards him.
“Eerappa ….The case is over. But I am so much tired by the time I made you get your bicycle back. Everything is concluded very easily. But….” the lawyer stopped and again continued “you will have to pay some extra fee. When will you give it” he questioned authoritatively.
It was so much for him. He wanted to get himself free from the clutches of the lawyer. So he said “I will not keep your debt sir, I will definitely pay sir”
“You’re very lucky. See, how soon you have got justice from the court. Anyhow you will get your cycle back. Now you come directly to the station and take it away. What will you do? And See here; in your happiness of having of your bicycle back don’t forget me” said the police who had come there by that time.
Eerappa was exited with the idea that the auspicious moments of riding the red bicycle is nearing. He took out money out of his pocket. There were only two red notes of twenty. He took one note in his right hand keeping the other in his left hand to give it to the police.
“What Eerappa!? We have strived so hard to enable you to get your cycle back which is worth one thousand and five hundred. You’re giving only twenty. Why don’t you give that also?” the constable snatched the other red note from his hand. Finally both went towards the station.
There were hundreds of bicycles were put in many rows under the big neem tree in front of the police station. But among those bicycles he could not find his own anywhere. He stood there searching it. Then there came a constable who opened a book and found a number and took a cycle. He gave it to Eerappa. He shuddered when he saw it.
“It is not my bicycle. It was a new one. You’ve given somebody’s bicycle to me” he said.
“That new bicycle has become an old one. You better take it and be gone” the constable said and went in to the office.
He stood looking at the police for a while and then turned his attention towards the thing in his hands. Yes! It was his own property. He felt like weeping when he saw it very closely. There was no air in the wheels, both the tires were pressed and torn. The rim had gone rusted and folks were cut. The cushion seat was torn and the sponge was spilled out. He looked at the bell. The outer cover was not there. The dynamo and the head light were missing. He moved it. No. The wheels were not moving easily. He used his strength and pushed it. He was tired very much when he brought his bicycle to his house.
In the afternoon when he was at home for lunch he had told his wife that he would bring the bicycle from the police station. She was very happy and had informed her children. So they were expecting the arrival of their bicycle.
The sound of the bicycle at the front door made both the children run out shouting “Our new bicycle has come … our new bicycle has come…..” Immediately they stopped shouting the moment they saw the bicycle. The mother who had followed their children also saw and stood like a pillar.
After keeping the bicycle near the front wall of his house, he entered the house and sat on the chair throwing all his weight on it. The iron sheet of the chair went down missing the grip on the edge. He got quickly and stared at it. He heard someone shouting out something on the road. He tried to listen to it clearly. “Old iron…….empty bottles…….plastic…old books …papers…, Old iron…….empty bottles…….plastic…..” Well, he came out with the chair, called the boy and gave it. Then he showed his old bicycle and asked him to take it also. The boy looked at it from top to toe. Took out four red notes from his pocket and handed it to Eerappa. Then the boy put the chair and the bicycle on his old bicycle and went shouting “Old iron…….empty bottles…….plastic…old books …papers…, old iron…….empty bottles…….plastic…..” The children and their mother stood gazing at their new bicycle moving on the old one.

The End