Smita Ray- Reflection of Supressed Status of Woman in Indian Drama in English: A Socio-Cultural Study

Reflection of Supressed Status of Woman in Indian Drama in English: A Socio-Cultural Study

Seema Dhoble

The essay discusses in detail the heteronormative principles of the society where the male, being the bread earner of the family enjoys a superiority and dominance over the female who irrespective of education and money are expected to stay silent and obedient. The essayist points out how language acts like a metaphorical penis as has been put forth by Jean Jacques Lacan, to limit the territories of woman in a patriarchal society as in a ‘Patrilingual marriage’ the wife should not only live in the house where her husband has been brought up but also use the language of her husband in speaking to her children.

The paper aims to bring forth to its readers the ‘man-woman’ distinctions which are considered as discriminations to establish male as the better half, someone to be respected and revered at any cost and under all circumstances. In this patriarchal society, where a girl is always taught to be a girl, is also tutored the importance of marriage as a bond for not only social validity but economic security as well. The essayist divides the writing into several sections where she elaborates in minute details the constitutional set up for this male-female relationship in a society where “marriage is the most unavoidable and sensitive institution.”(Dhoble, 313) The essay also talks about how women in the name of religion and beliefs of dharma are kept as marginalised, illiterate and suppressed. Her voice is unheard even in the family as she is either illiterate to understand the realities of this world or she is educated enough to stay silent and hence modest.

The woman is expected to balance between her individuality and the societal expectations where she is not just a girl, but is expected to act like a mother, sister, wife or daughter-in-law. The heteronormative rules of the society limits the behaviours of men and women as appropriate and inappropriate in terms of gender identities and social expectations. A woman is expected to control her emotions and maintain boundaries of licit and illicit forms of sexuality, as she is the guardian of a family and thereby a nation’s morality. Women are dictated to be chaste and proper as chastity has been used as a mode to oppress and dominate for ages. The essayist has projected how these stereotypes have found mention in Indian Literature especially in Indian Drama. She used Girish Karnad’s Nagamandala to explain how these issues have been challenged in the writings of Modern Indian dramatists like Girish Karnad, Mahesh Dattani, Vijay Tendulkar among several others. In their essays if men are portrayed to be more concerned with power, then women are with maintaining solidarity and balance in the society The author has also brought to her reader’s notice how this discrimination is not only imposed by the male members of the society but rather by both the male and female individuals of the family which establishes it as a fight between the individual and society.

The researcher hence with the help of this essay will try to study the family culture in Mahesh Dattani’s plays Bravely Fought the Queen and Tara. In Dattani, the family instead of being the shaper of a society is an image of the very society- a product of the value system that the society stands for. He exposes the patriarchal underpinnings of this institution that has often denied freedom to its individual members. The individual in Dattani hence largely suffers as a consequence of an oppressive ideology which with all its prejudice and hypocrisy, determines the moral fabric of the family. This traditional family attaches great value to absolute obedience to and respect to the elders, marital fidelity and premarital chastity. In such families it has been often been noticed that the measures meted out to the aberrant female is deemed justified by none other than but one who has herself been the victim of domestic violence and emotional privation. Dattani’s characters in these two plays are shown to have fractured conjugal lives and troubled relationships, sometimes vehemently protesting against all the self-indulgent and unscrupulous men who treat them as commodities but towards the end they do not find a resolution, rather succumb to the already existing situation and submit to the heteronormativity and the socially ordained roles of a mother, sister, daughter in law, man and woman. The researcher hence will attempt to study the dichotomy between subversion and submission to the established norms of the society. He shows how paternalistic dominance is mitigated by mutual obligations and reciprocal rights, thereby exposing the dichotomy in characters who though subverts but finally submits to the normativity of the so called Modern Indian society.


Dhoble. Seema. “Reflection of Supressed Status of Woman in Indian Drama in English: A Socio Cultural Study”. Indian Theatre in English and Literary Feminism. Authorspress. 2013. (310-324)


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