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Halfway House

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“Halfway House” by Mohan Rakesh
Is “Halfway House” primarily about a search for meaning and identity? Give a reasoned answer. “The crisis of identity and breakdown of communication in human relations and resultant tragic effect of boredom and despair constitute the theme of Rakesh’s play, Aadhe Adhure, which is by far is best play, devastatingly exposing the fragmented personalities and broken images in a disintegrated society.” — N.Choudhuri, (Hindi Drama, Contemporary Indian Literature) Mohan Rakesh’s “Halfway House” can be viewed as an exploration of meaning and identity in the turmoil of changing social and familial structures. Although the play seeks to construct the search for identity within the unfulfilling, incomplete nature of bourgeois existence as a universal non-gendered experience along Existential lines as its primary concern, it eventually deals with many questions on a broader socio-economic context on Realist lines. In the Prologue itself, the theme of exploration of identity is introduced, when ‘the Man in a Black Suit’ exclaims, “Who am I?” Immediately the declaration takes an Existential tangent as the fruitlessness of such a search for meaning is asserted with the speaker claiming, “This is a question I have given up trying to face.” He establishes the absurdity of identity by calling himself “amorphous” and “undefined”, as someone who like all of us puts on a new mask and gives a new meaning to himself for different occasions – “The fact is that there is something of me in each one of you and that is why, whether on or off stage, I have no separate identity.”He then asserts that no matter what the circumstance, what the situation and the gender, man’s search for identity and meaning in life would always remain an absurd, indescribable, undefined and irrational oddity. Even the characters of the play are seen to engage in a constant search of meaning and identity in life. In his essay, “Uncertain circumstances, Undefined Individuals: A...

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