"Dakghar": a Metaphysical Tragedy

Topics: Rabindranath Tagore, Tragedy, Catharsis Pages: 9 (2522 words) Published: February 18, 2013

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জীবনমরণের সীমানা ছাড়ায়ে, বন্ধু হে আমার, রয়েছ দাঁড়ায়ে॥ Transcending the boundary of life and death, There my friend stands motionless.

Dakghar or The Post Office was written in the year 1911 but was published on 16th January 1912. This is the post-Geetanjali period and during this period of Rabindranath’s life one finds spiritualism gradually taking the centre of the stage. Some have classified the play as allegorical while others called it symbolic, but the theme of the play written in a language which he called lyrical prose(gadyo lyric), is a celebration of life and acceptance of death as a call from beyond. Dakghar does not adhere to Aristotelian models of Tragedy primarily because of the playwright’s ideological opposition to the Western models of literature. But that does not rob the play of its intense elegiac element and the extreme pathos weaved into this play forces one to consider the play as one possessing a pure, unadulterated tragic tone. I would like to make a reading of Dakghar as a tragedy of the repressed soul. Amal’s death is the death of a young, imaginative mind repressed by the opposing forces of an unimaginative, prosaic social structure. The element of tragedy is not located as much on the physical death of the child as much in the metaphysical death.

II In Poetics, Aristotle defines Tragedy as “an imitation of an action that is serious, complete, and of a certain magnitude; in language embellished with each kind of artistic ornament, the several kinds of being found in separate parts of the play; in the form of action, not of narrative; with incidents arousing pity and fear; wherewith to accomplish its catharsis of such emotions…” From a reading of Poetics, the characteristics of an Ideal Tragic Hero that can be enumerated are as follows: 1. He must be an eminent man.

2. He must be a noble man(should be neither immoral nor vicious) 3. His character must be appropriate to his station in his life. 4. He must possess a likeness to human nature.

5. He must be consistent even in his inconsistency. How many of the aforementioned criteria hold good for Amal? Is Amal an Ideal Tragic Hero? If not, what is Amal’s tragedy? From start to finish Amal has been portrayed as the terminally ill young orphan boy whose physical actions and movements have been restricted to the four walls of his room. The window in his room is the only medium of communication between Amal and the outside world. There is no clear mention about Amal’s disease in the text of the play but he is constantly forbidden from opening the window or talking to strangers. An excerpt from the conversation between Madhav, Amal’s foster uncle and the Physician reveals their flawed attitude towards tackling a disease. Physician: [Taking snuff] The patient needs the most scrupulous care.

Madhav: That's true; but tell me how.

Physician: I have already mentioned, on no account must he be let out of doors.

Madhav : Poor child, it is very hard to keep him indoors all day long.

Physician: What else can you...
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