Abhijñānaśākuntalam and The Scarlet Letter : A critical analysis
ENG 434 Term paper
Submitted by: D.Vamsi Krishna (Y5173) Instructor In-charge: Dr. Neelankantan G.
Abhijñānaśākuntalam is a well known Sanskrit play written by Kalidasa. It means “token-recognised- Śakuntalā” ("Śakuntalā recognized by a token"). It is an elaboration upon an episode mentioned in the Mahabharata, protagonist of which is Śakuntalā, the daughter of Vishwamitra and Menaka . Its date is uncertain, but Kalidasa is often placed in the period between the 1st century BC and 4th century AD. In this paper the thematic, structural and other similarities and differences between the play and the modernist novel The Scarlet Letter (1850) written by Nathaniel Hawthorne are discussed. Also, the other literary aspects of the play are critically analysed.
Elements of Similarity:
There is a great deal of similarity between the play and the novel. To begin with, both of them are adaptations of the previously existing stories. In the case of the play the source was an episode from the Mahabharata whilst for the novel the source was a set of papers found by the author about a woman who lived about two hundred years ago (from novelist’s time) in New England. The protagonists in both the literary masterpieces are women, Śakuntalā and Hester Prynne respectively. They both are characterised as sweet, loving women, trustful, forging despite cruelest breaches of confidence – models of devoted wives with their reserve endurance of sorrow and spiritual discipline. Śakuntalā entered into a “gandharva vivaha” (an instant marriage by mutual consent of participants only, without any need for even a single third person as witness) with Dushyanta whilst her counterpart Hester was involved in a secret albeit sinful (in the puritanical society) relationship with Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale. A component each of King Dushyanta’s character can be viewed at as the traits of the...
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