Alienation in the Novels of Namita Gokhale Paper

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ALIENATION IN THE NOVELS OF NAMITA GOKHALE “ There is no religion in which everyday life is not considered a prison, there is no philosophy or ideology that does not think we live in alienation”- Eugene Ionesco. The concept of alienation involves a complex chain of development. It is not a recent coinage. It is as old as the society itself. Kehler is perfectly right in his observation that “the history of man could well be written as the history of the alienation of man. In common parlance,alienation means turning away or keeping away from one’s immediate surroundings. The origin of the idea is found in the works of Plotinous and in theology of St Augustine and Martin Luthur who expressed the view that in the struggle (of senses) one is to dissociate or alienate oneself from one’s own imperfections by identifying oneself with a transcendent perfect being. Thinkers, who use this term differ In the ways in which they understand and use it. Hegal was the most effective explicator of the term.
He elaborated the concept of alienation philosophically. For him, alienation was an onto- logical fact, inherent in the nature of man’s existence in the world. Thus, it is an inherent dissociation between man as a subject and man as an object ( i. e man as a creative subject seeking to realize himself and man as an object influenced and manipulated by others) so that man’s own creation ( his art, language, Science etc ) stands outside him as alien object i. e Objectification of what is essential and prior, namely, mind and individual consciousness .
Accordingly, through their activity, people created a culture which then confronted them as an alien force , But for Hegal human activity was itself but the expression of the sprint ( or Zeitgeist) which acted through people. Most widely popular interpretations of the term ‘ alienation’ are given by Karl Marx , in the historical and philosophical perspectives. Taking clue from Hegal, Marx imparted secular and materialistic dimensions to the interpretations of alienation. He conceptualized that the term, “ stems from his consideration of what man is capable of becoming”(But couldn’t become).
He has condemned these social features which do not allow man to achieve a sociey of free, creative individuals, society of artists, in which each individual is free to realize his nature through spontaneous activity in the spheres of productive life, social life and sensual life. The Classical sociological thoughts point out a source of the term and the concept of alienation different from that of Marx in the history of ideas although entries on alienation did not appear in the reference books of social sciences until as late as 1935.
However, it cannot be denied that the concept had existed implicitly or explicitly in classical sociological works. For instance, Tonnies,uses the term alienation in the sense of isolation. According to Tonnies, this growth of isolation is foremost among the great moments and cultural processes which mark the modern age. Durkheim, another sociological thinker has not used the term, alienation, but dwells upon the concept of ‘anomie’ a social state of relative normlessness within a society occurs when traditional moral norms are weakened or destroyed.
A person who lacks norms of conduct also leads a life which has no purpose or meaning. Thus anomie, in Durkheim’s sense, refers to meaninglessness. Still another dimension was imported to the meaning of the word alienation, by psychoanalytical thought inaugurated by Freud. Though Freud did not specifically use the term,alienation,yet his views are considered as quite seminal. According to the Freudian ethic, an individual is placed in a position of antagonism to his society and consequently he is alienated and incomplete.
The Freudian man is fundamentally, socially irresponsible. The Freudians think that man’s “ drives are only subverted by his society” and this gives birth to diseases. Hence, he suggests that there is no sense in extending one’s being into society. Yet, without this extension which is a social responsibility, man remains incomplete without any identification. This makes him feel alienated. Thus Freud attributes man’s alienation from society to the basic and unalterable contradiction between human and society.
Eric Fromm has elaborated and expanded Marx’s and Freud’s conceptions of alienation. In the light of Marxist approach and psychoanalysis, he defines ‘ alienation’ as a mode of experience in which the person does not experience himself as the centre of his world, as the creator of his own acts, but his acts and their consequences become his masters whom he obeys, or whom he may even worship. Freud’s discussion of the concept is implicit and indirect. He holds that alienation is rooted in man’ psyche and not is society.
The inner most concerns of the novelists of the recent past in India have been, human relationships, especially men- women relationships, betrayal in the relationships of love and faith, sense of alienation and the functioning of the female psyche. The nature of themes has changed from social to individual. Today writers tend to probe into personal and private relations, rather than general or social. The contemporary novelists are entangled in the complexities of men women relationships and the subtleties of subconscious and unconscious mind, which are reflected through human behavior.
The movers and Shakers of our society are often on page three but not often between the foreword and the footnote. Namita Gokhale has managed the rare feet with rare dignity. She says, “Everybody has two novels in him. ” One is “the story of life as it is,”the other “life as it might have been. ” She would know. After all, she has not had only good things happening to her. She has had her brush with adversity,and much of the pain emanating from the loss of near and dear ones has provided her with fuel to pen together some stories,some novels,some essays.
Ranging from “Paro-Dreams of Passion” to “Gods,Graves and Grandmother”to “Shakuntala” affable Namita Gokhale has always found writing “a catharsis”and storytelling quite “a therapeutic exercise. ” Now,she attempts to use this therapeutic exercise to put together an anthology that is a refreshing change from the dumb page three personalities one is saddled with first thing in the morning. ‘Paro-Dreams of Passion’ is the story of a tall, sexy , green eyed temptress named Paro . The novel is narrated by the observant Priya, who records not only the loves and failures of her friend but also her own.
In this novel, the novelist tries to prove how the inner feelings of alienation guide the activities of the human beings . Both , Priya Sharma and Paro are alienated . Where Paro finds an outlet to get rid of her alienation through adultery,Priya keeps brooding , all through her life. Paro’s assumed happiness and success is fake indeed and we realize very well how very much aliented she has been . Priya can not pretend to show what she is not indeed , so her character is real and lifelike. The researcher will try to find out the causes of their alienation , by applying Freud’s theory of psychoanalysis.
In Gods, Graves and Grandmother , Namita Gokhale has used irony to unravel the every day details of poverty , ignorance , illiteracy and the supernatural realm in life of downwardly mobile class of the Indian metropolises. Gudiya , the heroine of Gods, Graves and Grandmother is also alienated . The reason of her feeling alienated is justified , when her mother runs away with another man . But when Gudiya lives in the temple with her grandmother , there is no reason for her being alienated . She too like Priya Sharma of Paro-Dreams of Passion is unable to relate herself to anybody around her .
Gudiya’s life is different altogether from that of Priya Sharma , but the feeling of alienation is there in her, in spite of so much hustle and bustle , the festive activities and happiness around . The researcher will try to analyze the character of Gudiya , in the light of Marxian theory of alienation . The term “Social alienation “ coined by Karl Marx will be related to this novel. The Book Of Shadows investigates the nature of reality, love and faith. Scarred by her lover’s suicide and an acid attack that has left her permanently disfigured , Rachita Tiwari has sought refuge in a remote house in the Himalyan foothills .
In this house built by a missionary over a hundred years ago , she lives alone painting and repainting her nails , bright red , careful not to look into mirrors . As she retreats into herself, battling for her sanity and fearful of a world she no longer trusts, a different dimension claims her and the tremendous history of the house is played out before her. With its idyllic settings and intriguing history, the house and its nostalgic link to her childhood prove to be therapeutic. Rachita Tiwari feels all alone in the whole world. She is unable to relate herself with anybody around.
Her alienation is not due to society or any other outer activities. She could live a happy life only if she had thought of. Her alienation is what Eric Fromm explains, “rooted in man’s psyche and not in society. ” With the haunting novel about romantic loss and fatalism, A Himalayan Love Story Namita Gokhale confirms her reputation as one of India’s finest writers. This is the story of Parvati,young, beautiful and doomed, and Mukul Nainwal , the local boy, who returns to the Nainital of his youth in search for the only woman he has ever loved Here, Parvati is isolated.
From her childhood to youth she couldn’t get whatever she desired. Although in Masterji’s house she spends some good time but a gloomy picture is always reflected from her attitude. She spends her life in morose resignation. She has no arguments, no comments. Her daughter Ira also represents a picture of alienation. But Ira is not ready to live a life of silent acceptance. She has a spark in her personality. Here, the researcher will try to identify the categories of alienation in Parvati and Ira, separately. Psychoanalytical study of human behavior will be referred to in this chapter.
Original and heart rending Shakuntla enthralls in its vived portrayal of the tragic life of a woman whose desire to live on her own terms is thwarted at every turn by circumstance and the age in which she lives . Shakuntala – ‘the eternal outsider ‘ is the little girl hovering by the door seeking to glean knowledge as her brother is being taught the rules of grammar , the wife who does not belong , the whore who is ruled by shame . Eventually Shakuntala seeks redemption . Almost lovingly written all through , in its finale , the story suddenly acquires the leanings of a morality tale …. Shakuntala’ forlorn , bewildered woman of tragic integrity deserves better. Over and over again Gokhale ‘s Shakuntala stresses the fact that having been named Shakuntala , after Kalidasa’ s heroine , she carried within herself the samakars of abandonment . So we meet a woman who has always seen herself aloof from her life. To understand or evaluate the corpus of fiction, produced by Namita Gokhale, it is important to study the master theme of all the novels i. e “alienation”. The most important aspect of Gokhalian heroines is alienation. Her heroines are always aloof, alone, alienated.
They never have companions to share their ups and downs of life. They always feel that nobody in the world understands them. Gokhalian heroine creates an impression of being lonely ascetic brooding over the world around her and finding herself a misfit in it. Her life is a story of “ an inheritor of unfulfilled desires. ” She quite often displays an inclination for withdrawal from the real world, though there is facade of involvement in the activities of life. Inherent morbidity intensified by her surroundings makes her a split personality and life to her becomes meaningless.
She is always in a fix to decide her course of life. She carries her relationships without relatedness. The main cause of these women being alienated is their non-adjusting behavior. They want everything and everyone as they wish it to be. They are sad when they are given circumstances otherwise. These women are not ready to accept the social norms set up for women, i. e. not equal opportunists of education (“ Shakuntala”) concept of arranged marriage (“Paro-Dreams of Passion” and “ A Himalayan Love Story”) patience and tolerance (“The book of Shadows”) self identification (“ God Graves and Grand Mother” and “ Shakuntala”).
Namita Gokhale’s woman is always at war with the worldliness. She is always in search of joy, the grounds of which are true to life, true to nature and true to human beings. Unfortunately, she never finds it in the world and suffers from the meaninglessness (generalized sense of purposelessness in life), Cultural estrangement (sense of removal from the established values of society), social isolation (sense of loneliness or exclusion of social relations) and self estrangement (the gap between the work and the attitude or the maladjustment of desire and attitude).
Consequently, she is never in tune with the society and its degenerated rules, regulations, customs and products and with herself. The researcher will make an effort to study “ alienation” by examining the causes and effects of various external and internal factors affecting the psychology of the female protagonists in Gokhale’s fiction. The external factors are betrayal, loss of virginity, discrimination, economic inequalities and social boundations. The internal factors whereas include, the disillusionment in love and marriage, the quest for identity, high expectations, aspirations and a hunger to belong.
These psychological factors contribute to the action of the central figure and to the climax of the novel. The researcher will try to account for the animal instincts and other actions of the central figure and their influence on the climax . Gokhale, feels that a lack of understanding of a situation leads a character to disaster, resulting from passion, greed and a sense of alienation. But a better understanding of life and people, resulting from psychological development of a character will provide ways to happiness and a healthy relationship.
SELECT BIBLIOGRAPHY (A) PRIMARY SOURCES Gokhale, Namita. Paro-Dreams of Passion. New Delhi: Panguin Books India, 1999. ______________ Gods , Graves and Grandmother. New Delhi: Panguin Books India, 2001. ______________ A Himalayan Love Story. New Delhi:Panguin Books India,2002. _______________The Book of Shadows. New Delhi: Panguin Books India, 2001. _______________Shakuntala The Play of Memory. New Delhi: Panguin Books India, 2005. (B) SECONDARY SOURCES Aptheker, Herbert. Marxism and Alienation. New York : Humanities Press, 1965. Berdeav, Nicolas.
Solitude and Society. London : Geoffrey Bles, 1947. Buckner, H. Talyor. Deviance, reality and change. U. S. A. : Random House, 1971. Dhawan, R. K. Indian Women Novelists. New Delhi : Prestige, 1981. Fichte, J. G. The Vocation of Man. Ed. Roderic R. M. Chisholm. New York : Bobbs -Merrill, 1956. Hook, Sidney. From Hegal to Marx. Ann Arbor : University of Michigan Press, 1962. Iyengar, K. R. Srinivasa. Indian Writings in English. New Delhi : Sterling Publishers Pvt. Ltd. , 2005. Josepnson, Eric and Mary. Man Alone. New York : Bell Publishing Co. , 1962.
Jung, C. G. Aspects of the feminine. London : Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1982. Naik, M. K. and Narayan, Shyamala A. Indian English Literature 1980-2000. A critical Survey. New Delhi : Pencraft International, 2004. Sahacht, Richard. Alienation. London : George Allen and Unwin Ltd. , 1970. Sharma, Shrawan K. Alienation in the poetry of Matthew Arnold. New Delhi : K. K. Publications, 1996. Torrance, John. Estrangement, Alienation and Exploitation. London : The Macmillon press Ltd. , 1977. Urick, Ronald V. Alienation – Individual or Social Problem.
New Jeresy : Prentice Hall, 1977. (C) Internet Sources : http://www. indiaclub. com/shop/search Results. asp? ProdStock=19502 http://www. indiaclub. com/shop/search Results. asp? ProdStock=7628 http://www. indiaclub. com/shop/search Results. asp? ProdStock=15582 http://www. indiaclub. com/shop/search Results. asp? ProdStock=7380 http://www. redhotcurry. com/entertainment/books/ngokhale1. htm. http://www. anitanair. net/reviews/review_22. htm http://www. marxists. org/glossary/terms/a/1. htm http://www. hinduonnet. com/thehindu/mp/20…

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