Alienation in the Novels of Namita Gokhale

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“ There is no religion in which everyday life is not considered a prison, there is no philosophy or ideology that does not think we live in alienation”- Eugene Ionesco.

The concept of alienation involves a complex chain of development. It is not a recent coinage. It is as old as the society itself. Kehler is perfectly right in his observation that “the history of man could well be written as the history of the alienation of man.” In common parlance,alienation means turning away or keeping away from one’s immediate surroundings. The origin of the idea is found in the works of Plotinous and in theology of St Augustine and Martin Luthur who expressed the view that in the struggle (of senses) one is to dissociate or alienate oneself from one’s own imperfections by identifying oneself with a transcendent perfect being. Thinkers, who use this term differ In the ways in which they understand and use it.

Hegal was the most effective explicator of the term. He elaborated the concept of alienation philosophically. For him, alienation was an onto- logical fact, inherent in the nature of man’s existence in the world. Thus, it is an inherent dissociation between man as a subject and man as an object ( i.e man as a creative subject seeking to realize himself and man as an object influenced and manipulated by others) so that man’s own creation ( his art, language, Science etc ) stands outside him as alien object i.e Objectification of what is essential and prior, namely, mind and individual consciousness . Accordingly, through their activity, people created a culture which then confronted them as an alien force , But for Hegal human activity was itself but the expression of the sprint ( or Zeitgeist) which acted through people. Most widely popular interpretations of the term ‘ alienation’ are given by Karl Marx , in the historical and philosophical perspectives. Taking clue from Hegal, Marx imparted secular and materialistic dimensions to the interpretations of alienation. He conceptualized that the term, “ stems from his consideration of what man is capable of becoming”(But couldn’t become). He has condemned these social features which do not allow man to achieve a sociey of free, creative individuals, society of artists, in which each individual is free to realize his nature through spontaneous activity in the spheres of productive life, social life and sensual life. The Classical sociological thoughts point out a source of the term and the concept of alienation different from that of Marx in the history of ideas although entries on alienation did not appear in the reference books of social sciences until as late as 1935. However, it cannot be denied that the concept had existed implicitly or explicitly in classical sociological works. For instance, Tonnies,uses the term alienation in the sense of isolation. According to Tonnies, this growth of isolation is foremost among the great moments and cultural processes which mark the modern age. Durkheim, another sociological thinker has not used the term, alienation, but dwells upon the concept of ‘anomie’ a social state of relative normlessness within a society occurs when traditional moral norms are weakened or destroyed. A person who lacks norms of conduct also leads a life which has no purpose or meaning. Thus anomie, in Durkheim’s sense, refers to meaninglessness. Still another dimension was imported to the meaning of the word alienation, by psychoanalytical thought inaugurated by Freud.Though Freud did not specifically use the term,alienation,yet his views are considered as quite seminal. According to the Freudian ethic, an individual is placed in a position of antagonism to his society and consequently he is alienated and incomplete. The Freudian man is fundamentally, socially irresponsible. The Freudians think...
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