From Abuse to Apotheosis- Decoding The Trajectory of A Feminist Quest in Girish Karnad's Naga-mandala

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Madhukar Rai


This paper attempts to explore the idea of womanhood and feminine sexuality as it appears in Girish Karnad's remarkable play Naga-Mandala and discuss how the central protagonist of the play Rani manages to achieve a state of social respectability but at the cost of her individuality as a woman. We will also try to trace her journey from a state of patriarchal neglect and abuse to her final apotheosis and try to interrogate how to be a woman in India is to straddle two different imprisonments- the image of a Goddess and the image of a slut. This paper will highlight how Rani too gets absorbed in the pantheistic iconography of a deified mortal and thus manages to cut across the confinements of patriarchy which for many women is still an elusive dream. But what remains our chief contention is how such an ideological and contrived politics of feminine appropriation as a figure of divinity tends to reinforce the idea of a woman as a benign entity heralding notions of virtue and purity that others are ideally expected to conform to. The trajectory of Rani's life and struggles against the conventions of patriarchy thus bring forth quintessential questions about feminine desires and sensuality which needs greater attention within the mainstream discourse of feminism.

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