“Feminism” is an Ideology that demands equal rights for men and women in terms of politics decision-making, career, and having Children. It is considered a struggle to achieve the same rights, opportunities, and dignity as men have in society.
About half of the global human population is women. At every step, all over the world, women face inequality subordination, and secondary class status. Before the first Industrial Revolution, human life was not male-dominated and both men and women contributed equally in society. The Industrial Revolution began in England in about 1750-1760 and lasted sometime between 1820 and 1840. During this period women were restricted to the domestic atmosphere and men started to work in industries. As a result, women remain vulnerable socially politically, and economically.
Definition of Feminism
The term “Feminism” came into use during the 1890s but its origin can be traced to the late 17th century. There is no fixed definition of Feminism and it has a variety of meanings and interpretations. In different fields of life, we define feminism according to its own social, political, religious, and cultural perspective.
In short, “Feminism is a movement to end sexism, sexiest exploitation and oppression.”
According to the Cambridge Dictionaries, Feminism can be seen as “The belief that women should be allowed the same rights, power, and opportunities as men and be treated in the same way, or the set of activities intended to achieve this state.”
As a social movement, the main Characteristics and demands of Feminism include:
The Right of an Education.
Equal pay in work the workplace.
Fighting against gender stereotypes and performative behaviour.
Protection against sexual harassment and assault.
The rights of own property.
The general purpose of Feminism through centuries is to establish opportunities and results for women equal to those allotted to men. There are four distinct waves of feminism that align with the period of time.
These waves are –
19th to 20th Century
Right of Vote
1960s to 1980s
Domesticity & Sexuality
1990s to 2000s
Diversity & Intersectionality
2000 to present
The Portrayal Of Women and Feminism In India
Indian Women have been facing challenges in the form of Inequalities, and mental and physical violence acts. The portrayal of Feminism in Indian Literature is considered to be one of the most debated topics.
The portrayal of Feminism in Indian Literature goes back to ancient Indian History. “Ramayana” is considered to be one of the Greatest epics of Indian Literature written by Valmiki. In this epic, the Characters of women have depicted the real condition of Indian Women in the Ancient period. The Character of Sita who is the Wife of Lord Ram has justified the power and strength of her husband Rama. She has also been portrayed as vulnerable without her husband. The epic has made Lord Rama an Exemplary protagonist at the cost of the Rejection of his wife. She gave “Agni Priksha” to prove her purity to become Ram’s wife when she returned from Lanka.
Toru Dutt, a 19th-century Indian poet, expressed her pain and grief through her poem “Sita” and questioned the dominance of Indian Patriarchal society.
Feminism In The Indian Context
Feminism in the Indian Context can be divided into three Phase
First Phase – 1850 to 1915
The first phase of Indian feminism was started in the mid-nineteenth century. At this time India was to assimilate the Western idea of Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity. The first phase of Indian Feminism was initiated by men to uproot the social evils of Sati-Pratha and allow widow remarriage. Indian societies also forbid child marriage and to reduce illiteracy. However, as nationalist movements emerged in India, Indian society was improving the status of women by the late 19th century.
Second Phase – 1915 to 1947
During this period the struggle against colonial rule intensified. Nationalism became the pre-eminent cause. Gandhi legitimized and expanded Indian women’s public activities by initiating them into the non-violent civil disobedience movement against the British Raj. Peasant women played an important role in rural Satyagrah as of Borsad and Bardoli. Women-only organizations like ‘All India Women’s Conference’ and the ‘National Federation Od Indian Women’ emerged Women were grappling with issues relating to the scope of women’s political participation, women’s franchise, communal awards, and leadership roles in political parties.
Third Phase, Post 1947
Post-independence Indian literature has portrayed the condition of women in new dimensions. The real suffering of a peasant woman in rural India can be witnessed in ‘Nactor in a Sieve’ a novel by ‘Kamala Markandaya’. This novel has a story of woman and her husband in an Indian village who were exploited by money lenders.
‘Rukmani’ the lead female character of the Novel, is a rural Indian woman who did not receive, education, financial security, and societal support.
On the other hand the novel “Voices in the City” by ‘Anita Desai’ has stressed freedom and facing realities in the lives of Indian Women.
Depiction Of Women In the 21st Century
Indian Society has been going through several changes in establishing an identity for women. “The Binding Vine” a novel by ‘Shashi Deshpande’ has highlighted marital rape. Another contemporary author, ‘Shobha De’ has highlighted the emotional and sexual needs of an Indian middle-class woman through her story “Second Thoughts”.
Development of Feminism in West
The concept of Feminism Movement got proper prominence and importance in the 1960s. Earlier, Feminism was limited to some female writers but the increased number of Female writers and the representation of Women characters in the fiction world drew large attention in the Literature. The evolution of the feminist movement in Western literature is as follows:
First Wave Of Feminism
First-wave Feminism is mainly concerned with the treatment of women in a male-dominated society. The Major works that raised the issues of Feminism during this phase are Mary Ellman’s ‘Thinking about Women (1968), Kate Millet’s Sexual Politics, and Germaine Greer’s The Female Eunuch. Many important works of male writers have been studied in order to analyse the attitude of male towards women and society.
Second Wave Of Feminism
Second Wave is concerned with women’s writings including Ellen More’s Literary Women, Elaine Showalter’s, A Literature of Their Own, Nina Baym’s Women’s Fiction, Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar’s The Mad Woman in Attic, and Margaret Human’s Women Writers and Poetic Identity.
Elaine Showalter’s ‘A Literature of Their Own Published in 1970. This phase chiefly explores the relationship between females and literature and texts were analyzed to understand the treatment of female characters by the male in the society.
Showalter proposed three stages in the history of Women’s writing
Feminine Phase (1840-1880), in which women writers imitated dominant male artistic norms and aesthetic standards.
Feminist Phase (1880-1920), in which radical approach has been maintained and at last.
Female Phase (1920 to onwards), primarily focused on female writing focused on female writing and female experiences.
‘Mary Wollstonecraft’, one of the authors who wrote about Feminism, advocated in her ‘A Vindication of the Rights of Women that women must be treated equally because they have to play a crucial and vital role in society, especially in bringing up children.
She attacked male thinkers and scholars like Rousseau who argued that women did not need education but she supported education as a means of women’s improvement.
American activist, “Margaret Fuller” one of the famous female writers of the 19th century, in her Women in the Nineteenth Century, in her “Women in the Nineteenth Century” believed that education is the means of emancipation for women and her key planks are education, employment, and politics.
While in the 20th century ‘Virginia Woolf’ a modernist and Female Victorian author, explored gender reaction in her ‘A Room of One’s Own’ and ‘Three Guineas’. She remarks a woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction. She advocates for the liberation of women, financial independence, and the right to reveal feelings and experiences through words.
Whereas ‘Simone De Beauvoir favors that there is no essence of the woman and that a woman is constructed by men. She states in her feminism manifesto of The Second Sex, ‘One is not born a woman but become one.’
Feminism questions the long-standing, dominant, male, interpretations and patriarchal attitude. Feminism has empowered the confidence of women and provided individuality identification in Patriarchal Society.
“The Dicing” and “The Sequel to the Dicing” set the background for the Kurukshetra war in the Mahabharata. The Mahabharata originally written by Sage Veda Vyasa, is the largest epic in the world of Literature. It was first written in Sanskrit and later translated by many authors in English. It was composed between 300 BC & 300 AD. It has over 200,000 verse lines, 18 million words and it is believed that it is believed that it could have taken over 600 years to write. It is roughly four times the length of the Ramayana. It was first written by Lord Ganesha, at the request of Vyasa to write the tale as dictated by him.
The book is divided into a total of 18 chapters (Parva) Vyasa is written this epic in approx. 24,000 lines, under the title ‘Bharata’.
Important Characters of Mahabharata
Vyasa – Narrator of Mahabharata, father of Pandu & Dhritarashtra.
Bhisma Pitamaha (Ganga Putra)- Stepbrother of Vyasa, the grandfather of Pandavas and the Kauravas (100 brothers).
Pandu – Father of five Pandavas.
Kunti – Wife of Pandu and mother of five Pandavas & Karna.
Dhritarashtra – Born blind king of Hastinapur, father of Kauravas & Duryodhana.
Gandhari – Wife of Dhritarashtra, mother of Kauravas.
Yudhisthira – Eldest son of Kunti and rightful heir to the throne of Hastinapur.
Bhima – Second son of Kunti and Strongest of the Pandavas Brother.
Arjuna – The third son of Kunti, A Key warrior from Pandavas’ side who killed many warriors.
Nakul & Sahadeva – Pandavas twins brother.
Dropaudi – Wife of Five Pandavas.
Duryodhana – Eldest son of Dhritarashtra and Gandhari.
Dushsasana – Second Eldest son of Dhritarashtra & Gandhari.
Karana – Secret son of Kunti, a Great warrior, friend of Duryodhana.
Drona – Teacher of Pandavas & Kauravas.
Shakuni – Brother of Gandhari and maternal uncle of Kauravas, main villain of Mahabharata.
Krishna (The God) – Avatar of God Vishnu and Supporter of Pandavas.
The Book of The Assembly Hall
The Book of the Assembly Hall or A Sabha Parva is the pivotal one of the eighteen major books of Mahabharata. It is the second of eighteen books of Mahabharata. It has 10 parts and 81 chapters (9 parts and 72 Chapters). It starts with the description of the palace and assembly hall (Sabha) built by Maya at Indraprastha. It presents the glorious kingdom of Pandavas.
There are specifically ten sections in The Book of the Assembly Hall. It defines the principles of crime against humanity, where any unharmed human being must also stand up for any evil or injustice inflicted upon the society and people at large.
Introduction Of The Dicing
The Dicing or The Sequel to the Dicing are two subchapters from the second book, The Book of the Assembly Hall (Sabha Parva). This book is one of the books of Mahabharata written by Sage Veda Vyasa. Mahabharata is the largest epic in the world of literature. It was originally written in Sanskrit and later translated by many authors in English.
“The Dicing” and “The Sequel to the Dicing” set the background for the Kurukshetra war in the Mahabharata.
Duryodhana convinces Dhritarastra to offer the Khandava forest to the Pandavas. Initially, it was a useless forest. Maya built a majestic assembly hall in the uncultivated land with his 8000 kinkara rakshasas in 14 days. The useless forest turns into a beautiful kingdom, Indraprastha.
The Defeat of the Jarasandha who defeated 84 kings, makes Yudhisthira the king of 85 kings. God Krishna suggests that Yudhisthira conduct Rajasuya to declare complete independence from Hastinapura and Celebrate the king’s glory. They invite Duryodhana to the ceremony with other guests. He is jealous to see the magnificent hall. The palace is a palace of illusions. As a result, Duryodhana mistakes a glass floor for a pool, and he falls into a pool Bhima, Arjuna, Draupadi, and other women laugh of him.
Duryodhana returns home with memories of humiliation. He is distressed and silent. Therefore, his maternal uncle, Shakuni, asks him the reason. Duryodhana reveals the fact that he is jealous of the wealth of the Pandavas and resents that they humiliate him. Shakuni reminds him that the Pandavas are invincible for defeating in war. However, there is one way to snatch their wealth. That is in the game of Dice.
Shakuni is a master of dicing. Duryodhana asks Dhritarashtra for approval. Dhritarashtra tries to convince his son to listen to the advice of Vidura. The king tells his son that despite having privileges, there is no point in feeling sad. Duryodhana begs his father to approve the game of dice so that Shakuni can take over their wealth.
Dhritarashtra leaves the decision to Vidhura because he wants to consult with Vidura in this regard. Duryodhana tells him that Vidhura is partial to the Pandavas and will never approve of it. He pressurizes his father to kill himself if it does not happen. Therefore Dhritarastra orders Vidura to invite Yudhisthira to enjoy a family dicing game. Vidhura forbids the king’s proposal because he foresees that this would lead to destruction. Despite his advice, Dhritarashtra orders him to invite the Pandavas to the game.
Vidura reaches Indraprastha and gives the news of the king. Yudhisthira agrees because it is the king’s order. Yudhisthira soon prepares to go to Hastinapur. The Game starts the next day. Shakuni welcomes Yudhisthira to play dice with him. Yudhisthira warns him not to use any trickery in the game. Duryodhana says that Shakuni will play on his behalf. Bhisma, Drona, and others enter the Hall.
Yudhisthira stakes a hundred thousand gold pieces and loses. After that, he stakes his chariot, a thousand elephants, a hundred thousand male and female slaves, Gandharva horses, his army, and his treasury. Vidura tries to stop the game during the game but to no avail. Despite losing one after another, Yudhisthira keeps staking his people’s property. Nakula, Sahadeva, Arjuna, Bhisma with nothing in hand. Shakuni suggests that he should stake his wife, Draupadi. Everyone in the assembly is shocked to hear that. Unfortunately, he loses her too in the game.
Duryodhana orders Vidura to bring Draupadi to the hall, but Vidhura denies his order. He tells Dushasana to bring her. Despite Draupadi’s protest, Dushasana drags her by her hair to the hall. Duryodhana asks Dushasana to strip the clothes from the Pandavas and Draupadi. The Pandavas strip off their upper clothes and sit silently.
Dushasana undresses Draupadi. Surprisingly, her clothes are replaced by similar clothes, this is God Krishna’s Grace to Draupadi. The more he tries to undress her the more clothes appear. At last, Dushasana is tired and gives up. Upon the insult of Draupadi, Bhima is in rage and swears that he will drink the blood of Dushasana. Duryodhana exposes his left there to Draupadi and Bhima swears to break his thigh.
At last, Draupadi complains about the lowness of the Kauravas. Dhritarashtra gives Draupadi two boons. For the first boon, she chooses the freedom of Yudhisthira, and for the second the liberty of the remaining brothers. In this way, Draupadi becomes the saviour of the Pandavas. Dhritarastra wishes Yudhishthira good luck and advises him not to ponder the insult they have faced in the hall. They leave the place and return to Indraprastha.
Thus, The Dicing scene is used as a metaphor for the struggle between good and evil. Yudhisthira represents Dharma or righteousness, while Duryodhana and Shakuni represent Adharma or Unrighteousness. In the end, Dharma triumphs, but only after a great deal of suffering.
It is also a reminder of the importance of women’s rights and dignity. Draupadi is a strong and courageous woman, but she is also a victim of male violence and misogyny. The scene is a reminder of the need to protect women and girls from all forms of violence.
The Book “Gulliver’s Travels” was written by Johnathan Swift, who is known as a great Anglo Irish Satirist, essayist, and poet of English Literature. The full title of ‘Gulliver’s Travel’ is ‘Travels into Several Remote Nations of the World’ and it was first published in 1726. The protagonist of this novel is ‘Lemuel Gulliver’ and the whole story of this novel moves around him. It is Swift’s best full-length work. Swift claimed that he wrote ‘Gulliver’s Travel’ to vex the world rather than divert it.
The novel is written in Four Parts.
A Voyage to Lilliput
A Voyage to Brobdingnag
A Voyage to Laputa
A Voyage to the Land of the Houyhnms
About The Author “Jonathan Swift”
“Jonathan Swift” the author of Gulliver’s Travels was an Anglo-Irish Satirist, political pamphleteer, essayist, and poet. He is remembered for works such as – A Tale of Tub, An Argument Against Abolishing Christianity, Gulliver’s Travel, and A Modest Proposal. Swift is regarded as the greatest prose satirist in the history of English Literature.
The Book “Gulliver’s Travels” was an immediate success. The English dramatist ‘John Gay’ remarked ‘It is universally red from the Cabinet council to the nursery.
Themes In Gulliver’s Travels
The main themes in Gulliver’s Travels are – Hypocrisy, The Dangers of arrogance and excessive pride, the human condition, and Social and Political issues.
One of the most important themes in Gulliver’s Travels is that of Hypocrisy. Throughout the novel, Swift criticizes the various groups of people that Gulliver meets for their hypocrisy. For example, he condemns the politicians of Lilliput for their lies and manipulation, and the scientist of Laputa for their disregard for the well-being of other people.
Dangers of Arrogance and Excessive Pride
Another important theme in Gulliver’s Travels is that of The dangers of arrogance and excessive pride. Swift satirizes this theme by showing how the Characters in Gulliver’s travels who are the most proud are also the ones who are harmed the most. The Laputans, for example, are highly arrogant people who think they are superior to everyone else. As a result, they are completely blind to the dangers of their own actions, and they end up being destroyed by a storm.
Human Condition, and Social and Political Issues
Gulliver’s Travels is also an exploration of the different ways that societies can be structured. Swift uses Gulliver’s Travels to satirize the various political and social systems that he encounters. For example, the government of Lilliput is a monarchy, while the government of Blefuscu is a republic. Swift also criticizes, the social hierarchy treated like gods and the common people are treated like slaves.
Gulliver’s Travels is full of Swift’s clever irony and biting satire. Gulliver functions as a mouthpiece for Swift, allowing the author to voice his opinions on various political and social issues of his period. Swift criticizes the way that society can be hypocritical and unjust. He also satirizes the ways in which people are willing to blindly follow the conventions of their society, even if these conventions are harmful or wrong. In the novel, Swift also gives a glimpse of his view on humanity. In general Swift seems to believe that humans are inherently corrupt and selfish.
Thus, the themes of “Gulliver’s Travels” are important because they allow us to better understand the Author’s message and the motivation behind the work. In “Gulliver’s Travel” Swift uses satire to criticize various aspects of English society. By exploring the themes in Gulliver’s Travels, we can gain a better understanding of Swift’s views on society, humanity, and the human condition.
Gulliver’s Travels Part – 1
Gulliver’s Travels Part – 1 has a total of 8 Chapters.
Chapter – 1
The novel begins with Lemuel Gulliver recounting the story of his life. He was born to a family in Nottinghamshire, the third of five sons. He is sent to London to be a surgeon’s apprentice, during which time he also learns about navigation and Mathematics. Afterward, Gulliver married Mrs. Mary Burton and began his life as a Surgeon. When his business begins to fail, he takes a six-year trip to sea, where he serves as the surgeon to two ships and travels the East and West Indies. He spends much of his time on these voyages observing the people and learning their language.
Although he has planned to return home at the end of this time, he decides to accept one last job on a ship called Antelope. In the East Indies, the ship encounters a violent storm in which twelve crewmen die. Six of the crewmembers, including Gulliver, board a small row boat to escape. Soon the rowboat capsizes. Gulliver however swims safely to shore.
Gulliver lies down on the grass to rest and soon he falls asleep. When he wakes up, he finds that his arms, legs, and hair have been tied. He feels something move across her legs and over his chest. He looks like a six-inch-tall human carrying a bow and arrow. At least forty little people climb onto his body. He is surprised and shouts loudly frightening the little people.
Gulliver loosens the ropes and indicates that he is hungry, and the little people bring him baskets of meat. He devours it all and shows that he is thirsty, so they bring two large barrels of wine. Gulliver has made them a promise of goodwill and is grateful for their hospitality. When he falls asleep, the Lilliputians transport Gulliver to the capital. They use a large platform with twenty-two wheels pulled by dozens of four-and-a-half-inch horses. More than one hundred thousand Lilliputians come out to see Gulliver.
The emperor of Lilliput comes to visit Gulliver. The two attempt to converse, though they cannot understand each other’s language. After two weeks, a bed is made for Gulliver. It consists of 600 small beds sewn together. News of his arrival spreads throughout the kingdom and curious people come to see him. The emperor arranged to deliver a large amount of food to Gulliver every morning, hire tailors to make his clothing, and offer teachers to instruct him in their language.
Every morning Gulliver asks the emperor to set him free, but the emperor refuses, saying that Gulliver must be patient. The emperor also orders him to be searched to ensure that he does not have any weapons. Gulliver agrees to this search, all of his weapons are taken away.
Chapter – 3
The Lilliputians begin to like and trust Gulliver. Gulliver is granted his freedom, but he has to follow certain conditions, including the following – he is forbidden to leave the island without permission, he must be an ally to the Lilliputians in wars, and he must help with construction projects.
Chapter – 4
Gulliver visits the Lilliputian capital city of Mildendo and the emperor’s palace. Reldresal, an official in the Lilliputian government tells Gulliver about religious and political division. He also tells Gulliver about his enemies – the Kingdom of Blefuscu. Gulliver agrees to help defend Lilliput against their enemies. He honours his promise to defend Lilliput from a Blefuscu attack.
Chapter – 5
Three weeks later Lilliput makes a peace treaty with Blefuscu and Gulliver asks the emperor for permission to visit Blefuscu in the future. The emperor agrees but remains cold toward Gulliver. A fire breaks out in the empress’s apartment. Gulliver extinguishes the fire by relieving himself in the building. This disgusts the empress, as public urination is illegal in Lilliput. She vows revenge on Gulliver.
Chapter – 6
Gulliver is invited to have dinner with the emperor. Flimnap, the royal treasurer, also attends the dinner. Flimnap dislikes Gulliver and complains that feeding and housing Gulliver is bankrupting the kingdom.
Chapter – 7
A government official tells Gulliver that members of the council, including Flimnap, have charged Gulliver with treason. The Charges include public urination, refusing to destroy Blefuscu, and aiding the emperor of Blefuscu. Gulliver learn his sentence will be carried out three days. He leaves Lilliput for Blefuscu, where its people welcome him.
Chapter – 8
After three days, Gulliver receives orders to return to Lilliput for his punishment, but Gulliver decides to leave for home. He takes with him food, drink, and some tiny animals from Blefuscu. After two days at sea, he was picked up by a British vessel and returned to his family in England.
Thus, “Gulliver’s Travels” is a story about the human condition, and how human struggles with their own weakness. Swift makes it clear that there is no one right way to do things and no perfect solution to life’s problems. This story is an indictment of man’s vanity and his struggles to find order in a Chaotic World. Swift also uses Gulliver’s Travels as a way to comment on the social and political issues of his time.
The term “Theatre of The Absurd” was first derived by Albert Camus in an essay, ‘The Myth of Sisyphus’ (1942) in which he derived the philosophy of the absurd. According to Camus, this philosophy says,
“Mom is trying to pursue the meaning of life and this pursuance has no meaning in its own. So the men quest for the existence and to derive meaning for life is meaningless and is of no use.”
Later in 1961, this term was coined by “Martin Esslin” in his book “Theatre of Absurd”. It is a literary movement that began with a group of dramatists around the 1950s and continued till the 1980s. It was the death of Samuel Beckett in 1989 that marked the end of this movement. This literary movement spread across America and Other European countries during the 1950s to 1960s. It is the movement that simply expresses the thought of human existence that has no meaning or purpose. In it, the playwright also discussed the changed behavior of human beings which they saw in their surroundings, because of the impact of World War II.
Definition Of The Theatre of the Absurd
Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines the term as,
“Theatre that seeks to represent the absurdity of human existence in a meaningless universe by bizarre or fantastic means.”
History Of The Theatre of The Absurd
This movement influenced by existentialism, began in the form of experimental theatre in Paris and consequently, the spread of the absurd form in other countries. Absurdist plays were written in French. Absurd elements first came into existence after the rise of Greek Drama in the plays of ‘Aristophanes’ in the form of Wild humor and buffoonery of the old comedy.
Then, morality plays of the Middle Ages can also be called a precursor of ‘The Theatre of the Absurd’. In 19th century. Ibsen and Strindberg also included some elements of absurd theatre in their plays, but the real precursor of the present Theatre of Absurd is ‘Alfred Jerry’s play ‘Ubu Roi’.
World War II finally brought the Theatre of Absurd to life because the Chaotic atmosphere during that time was compelling them to think about their absurd existence.
Features & Characteristics of the Theatre of the Absurd
Absence of a real story or plot.
No action since all actions are insignificant.
The value of language is reduced, in fact, what happens on the stage transcends and often contradicts, the words spoken by the characters.
Extensive use of pauses, silences, miming, and absurd situations reflect a sense of anguish.
Incoherent babbling makes up the dialogue.
Characteristics and Features in Detail
Following are the chief characteristics of the Theatre of Absurd, but all these characteristic cannot necessarily be found in all the absurdist play because it is not necessary that the playwright must have used all the characteristic of Absurd plays:
1. Questions of Existence
Absurd plays raise some basic questions of existence like why we are alive, why we have to die, and why there is injustice and suffering.
2. Distrust In Language
For the absurdist playwrights, language is only a meaningless communication and stereotyped exchange of Ideas because words fail to express the essence of human existence.
3. Illogical Speeches and Meaningless Plots
Through illogical speeches and meaningless plots, they wish to establish a feeling of freedom to make their own words. Dr. Culik Says,
“Rationalist thought, like language, Only deals with the superficial aspects of things, Nonsense, On the other hand, opens up a glimpse of the infinite.”
4. Re-establishment of Man’s communion with the Universe
They attempt to restore the importance of myth and rituals in the life of man and make them aware of the ultimate realities of their life.
5. Emphasis on Abstract values of Life
Absurdists force us to look at our abstract values of life like love and family. Thus, we may hope to accept the absurdity of life and try to find values in a world devoid of them.
6. Vagueness about Time, Place, and Character
Absurdists have no time, place, or character in their plays as they feel that there is no past or future, only the repetition of the present.
7. Lack Of communication Amid Characters
Each character lives an egoistic life and attempts to get another character to understand him which results in more alienation.
Playwright of Absurd Drama
Martin Esslin considered four playwrights: – Samuel Beckett, Eugene Ionesco, Arthur Adamov, and Jean Genet as leaders of the movement. After some time, ‘Harold Pinter’ was also introduced to this group, as some of the works of Albert Camus, and Edward Albee.
Beckett is an Irish dramatist and novelist, who came from an ‘Anglo-Irish’ Protestant family. Beckett uses formless language deliberately to present the absurdity in his work. Some of his highly popularised fiction novels, originally written in French, Scored success are ‘Murphy’. ‘Molloy’ and ‘Watt’ which also follow his story “More Pricks than Kicks”.
His masterpiece in drama is ‘Waiting For Godot’ which is the English version of the French Play En Attendant Godot’. Beckett also wrote a ‘monologue’. “Krapp’s Last Tape” in which Krapp attempts to recapture the greatness of earlier days by listening to recordings of days when she was young.
Ionesco is a Rumanian – French dramatist, write in French. Eugene Ionesco is a central figure in this genre and the foremost figure of the French Avant-Grade Theatre. His plays basically focus on criticizing the meaningless existence of human beings while offering a subtle solution to change this situation. In Rhinoceros, Ionesco tries to build hope at the end of the play by making Berenger, the protagonist, stick to his human self and not follow the mass movement.
His famous works are ‘The Bald Prima’, ‘The Lesson’, ‘The Chair’ an absurdist tragic force, ‘The Killer’, ‘Rhinoceros’, ‘The Victim of Duty’, ‘How to Ged Rid of It’, and ‘Macbeth’ written during the cold war. The Chairs and The Lesson are the most notable works of Ionesco.
He was a Russian-born dramatist who lived in France and wrote in French Adamov wrote an autobiographical volume L’Avew, where he for the first expressed the deep sense of alienation, one of the significant features of ‘Theatre of the Absurd’.
Some of his famous plays are ‘La Paradise’, ‘Professor Taranne’, ‘Le Ping-Pong’, and ‘Printemps 71’.
A famous French novelist, dramatist, and poet. Genet’s contribution can be classified both as an Absurd dramatist and as a follower of Art and in his ritualistic ‘Theatre Of Cruelty’.
His very famous plays are “Deathwatch”, “The Maids”, “The Balcony”, and “The Screens.”
Pinter was a great English Playwright screenwriter, Director, Actor, and a Novel Prize winner for literature in 2005. Harold Pinter became the most influential modern British dramatist. His writing career continued for more than 50 years. His early works were described by critics as “Comedy of Menace”.
His first full-length play was ‘The Birthday Party (1958)’, which ran for three nights in London. It later made a strong impression on Television and was successfully re-staged in 1964.
Printer’s other most famous works are “The Room”, “The Homecoming”, and “Betray.”
Some of his one-act plays are ‘The Dumb Waiter’, ‘A Slight Ache’, ‘The Collection, and The Lover’ which have been produced in the theatre.
Camus was an Algerian and French philosopher. He was the youngest writer who won the Nobel Prize in 1957 in Literature. His philosophical work came out as absurdism. His essay ‘The Rebel’ which treats both the metaphysical and the historical development of rebellion and revolution in societies, especially in Western Europe.
‘The Myth of Sisyphus’ (1942) an essay by Camus, where he described meaningless things happening around him through the concept of ‘absurdism’ and this absurdist concept was first time seen in his work.
Edward Albee is an American playwright related to the theatre of the Absurd. He is known for his works written as one-act plays such as ‘As Zoo Story’, ‘The Sandbox’, and ‘The American Dream’. His first full-length play, “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf.”
He won the Pulitzer Prize for three works – ‘A Delicate Balance’, ‘Three Tall Women’, and ‘Seascape’, written in the form of Drama.
Besides these, other playwrights like ‘Tom Stoppard’, ‘Arthur Kopit’, ‘Friedrich Durrenmatt’, ‘Fernando Arrabal’, ‘N. E. Simpson’, and also many dramatists associated with this theatre.
Thus, the Absurdist play or The Theatre of Absurd only demonstrates the absurdity and illogicality of the world in which we live but does not provide any solution to the problem. Through these plays, man is again and again reminded that his existence in the world is in fact absurd and meaningless.
“Man and Superman” by George Bernard Shaw is regarded as a philosophical play due to its exploration of several philosophical themes. It was first published in 1903. The play is subtitled “A Comedy and a Philosophy” and it reflects Shaw’s views on a wide range of topics, especially on the hypocrisy of Victorian society. It is a four-act play.
The first performance of Man and Superman in 1905 at the Royal Court Theatre in London, did not include the third act. Though subsequent productions have typically omitted the scene, “Don Juan in Hell”, it’s often performed as a separate play. ‘Eric Bentle’ a birth born American theatre critic & playwright called Man and Superman:
“The Supreme triumph of Shaw’s dramaturgical dialects.”
Character of the play
Ramsden is a middle-aged gentleman who considers himself as an intellectual pioneer and a progressive thinker.
Octavius is a young, orphaned bachelor in the social circle of the social circle of Ramsdens, the Whitefield, and Jack Tanner.
Ann is the older daughter of Mr. Whitefield, She is based on the Character of Dona Ana.
Jack/ John Tanner
Jack Tanner, a left-wing thinker and author of the book The Revolutionist’s Handbook, is one of the men left in charge of Ann Whitefield after her death.
Violet is the sister of Octavius. She becomes pregnant at the beginning of the play and is secretly married to Hector Malone.
Henry Straker, Mendoza, Hector Malone Jr., Hector Malone Sr., Mrs. Whitefield, and Susan Ramsden are more characters, which is present in the play.
About G. B. Shaw
George Bernard Shaw, commonly known as G. B. Shaw was an Irish playwright, Critic, and political activist. After unsuccessful attempts at novel writing, Shaw turned to drama. He wrote over sixty plays in the course of his life, including – “Man and Superman”, Pygmalion, and Saint Joan. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1925. Shaw’s golden period as a dramatist was from 1903 to 1925, the time when he wrote his best and most famous play. Arthun Bingham Walkey praised Shaw as,
“A man who gives us a refined intellectual pleasure.”
Man and Superman as a Comedy or Philosophy
In the sub-title of the play, Shaw himself calls Man and Superman a comedy and a philosophy. We may designate the drama as a biological comedy with spiritual overtones. The central theme of the play is Shaw’s anthropologic myth that woman is the primary mover in the evolutionary process. In Act I, II, and IV we find the ruthless pursuit of Tanner by Ann that constitutes the comedy of the drama. The play is a rich storehouse of Shavian thoughts, but this thought content is treated in the vein of the most light-hearted comedy.
The play contains Shaw’s view on everyday subjects. He expressed his views on love, women, marriage, Sex-relationship, socialism, democracy, etc. In fact, the play is Shaw’s finest statement of his idea of a life force. Shaw’s life force is a spiritual power in the universe. Don Juan says in the play.
“Life is a force which has made innumerable experiments in organizing itself.”
Shavian Don Juan is the spokesman of Shaw himself in the play. He is a philosophic man with intellect. In conversation with the statue Don Juan says: “……….. to life, the force behind the Man, Intellect is a necessity, because without it he blunders into death.”
On women, in the play, Shaw’s comment is that a woman is not a Poet’s dream. She has to play an important role in the evolutionary process. Shaw thinks that biologically woman is primary and non-secondary in the process of keeping the human race running.
All the philosophical implications of the play have been illustrated through the story of Tanner and Ann with utmost levity and this makes the play comedy as well. Ann Whitefield is a vital genius, Tanner, on the other hand, is a man who does not tolerate women’s company. Tanner avoids Ann and regards her company as dangerous, Ann. On the other side, considers Tanner as “Biologically” preferable.
Thus, we may say that Shaw is logically right to call “Man and Superman” a comedy and a philosophy. Shaw, in the play, expressed his philosophical views on serious subjects but the way he has gone is comical.
Themes of “Man and Superman”
The themes of Man and Superman by George Bernard Shaw are:
The conflict between man and Woman
Shaw believed that men and women are fundamentally different creatures, with different goals and desires. In ‘Man and Superman’, this conflict is embodied in the characters of John Tanner and Ann Whitefield. Tanner is a brilliant but impractical idealist, while Ann is a ruthless social climber. Their relationship is a battle of wills, with each trying to manipulate the other to get what they want.
The Nature of the Superman
Superman is Shaw’s ideal of a human being, someone who is intellectually and morally superior to the rest of humanity. Superman is someone who has achieved self-mastery to their own values, regardless of what society expects of them.
The importance of free will
Shaw believed that humans have the power to choose their own destiny. In ‘Man and Superman’, this is represented by the Character of Don Juan. Don Juan is a legendary womanizer who has rejected the conventions of society. He believes that humans should live life to the fullest and experience everything that it has to offer.
The Role of Women in Society
Shaw was a strong advocate for women’s rights. In Man and Superman, he challenges the traditional view of women as being inferior to men. He argues that women are just as capable, as men of intellectual and moral leadership.
The Importance of Education
Shaw believed that education was essential for the improvement of the human race. In Man and Superman, he argues that education should be used to teach people how to think for themselves and question authority.
Analysis & Summary of the Play
The play starts with a dedication, in the form of a letter, addressed to Arthur Bingham Walkley, Shaw’s friend, who according to the letter had once asked Shaw why he did not write a ‘Don Juan’ play.
The play is an example of a comedy of manners that explores the themes of love, marriage, and the nature of “Superman”. The play is divided into four acts. The first three acts are set in the real world, and they follow the story of John Tanner, a womanizing, philosopher and who is determined to marry him. The fourth act is set in Hell and it takes the form of a dream that Tanner has.
When a man named Mr. Whitefield dies, he entrusts the guardianship of his daughter, Ann to two men; the revolutionary young ‘Jack Tanner’ and the stodgy rich ‘Roebuck Ramsden’. Jack, a sworn bachelor, has chosen to devote his life to philosophical pursuits. Meanwhile, Octavius Robinson, who was like a Son to Mr. Whitefield, becomes infatuated with Ann and determined to marry her, unaware that Ann is truly in love with Jack.
In the first three acts, Shaw explores the conflict between Tanner’s intellectual idealism and Ann’s biological determinism. Tanner believes that humans are capable of great things but he also believes that they are often held back by their animal instincts.
In the fourth act, Tanner’s dream takes him on a journey through Hell, where he meets a variety of Characters who are human nature. These characters include ‘Don Juan’ a symbol of the life force, ‘Dona Ana’, a symbol of the intellect, and the Devil, a symbol of evil.
The dream helps Tanner to understand the true nature of the conflict between himself and Ann. He realizes that he cannot escape his biological instincts, but he also realizes that he can use his intellect to control them. The play ends with Tanner and Ann agreeing to marry, but on the condition that they will remain free individuals.
Thus, through the play, Shaw explores the complex relationship between men, women, and the Life force. Some critics have seen it as a pessimistic view of marriage, suggesting that it is a trap that prevents men from achieving their full potential. Others have seen it as an optimistic view, suggesting that marriage can be a positive force for good if it is based on mutual understanding and respect.