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Play Analysis - "Shakuntala" by Kalidasa

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Play Analysis - "Shakuntala" by Kalidasa

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A story of gods, nymphs, ancient Indian mythology, spells and love, the romantic comedy Shakuntala by Kalidasa is a timeless classic. Similar plots are still being used in plays, TV shows and movies today, over two thousand years later; man falls in love with girl, something happens that doesnt allow them to be together, another event happens that allows them to be together with a happy ending. Shakuntala tells the story of the protagonist, King Dushyanta, falling for a young woman named Shakuntala. Their love brings us on a journey that makes us laugh, cry tears of mirth and sorrow, and even blows us away by some of the beautiful imagery/poetry.

The play commences with King Dushyanta on a hunt, then finding himself in the presence of three women at an ashrama (sacred place). One of these women is Shakuntala, whom Dushyanta falls immediately in love with. Their mutual attraction eventually blossoms into a romance, but one day as Dushyanta is away, a hermit puts a curse on Shakuntala. She was too distracted by thoughts of Dushyanta to receive him as a guest, and so he cursed whoever/whatever she was thinking of. The curse caused Dushyanta forget all about Shakuntala. However, the hermit had a slight change of heart. Because Shakuntala was too busy thinking of Dushyanta, the hermit told her friends that if Dushyanta were presented with a meaningful object representing his relationship with Shakuntala, he would regain his memory of her. Unfortunately, as Shakuntala greeted Dushyanta once more, she discovered that he did not remember her. She remembered that he had given her a ring while they were together, but as she looked down to give it to him she realized it had slipped off her finger, probably while she was in the Ganges River. Shakuntala was then taken away by an invisible nymph up into the sky. Later on, a fisherman (who was taken prisoner for thievery) returned to the king the ring he had found and stolen from the Ganges. The king suddenly remembered...