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Value of Suffering in Markandaya’s Nectar in a Sieve

Value of Suffering in Markandaya’s Nectar in a Sieve

Kamala Markandaya’s Nectar in a Sieve portrays its positive woman characters as ideal sufferers and nurturers. “[T]he cause of her suffering springs mainly from poverty and natural calamity. The women are from the rural sections of society. They are the daughters of the soil and have inherited age-old traditions which they do not question. Their courage lies in meek or at times cheerful way [sic] of facing poverty or calamity” [Meena Shirdwadkar, Image of Woman in the Indo-Anglian Novel (New Delhi: Sterling, 1979), 49].

Rukmani, the main character, and her daughter Ira display suffering hroughout the novel. Rukmani works hard and is devoted to her gentle husband. She endures blow after blow from life: poverty, famine, the divorce of her barren daughter, the deaths of her sons, her daughter’s prostitution, and finally her husband’s death. When she finds te emotional cener of her life, her relationship with her husband, threatened by the discovery that he fathered another woman’s sons, she neither strikes out at him nor crumbles:

Disbelief first; disillusionment; anger, reproach, pain. To find out, after so many years, in such a cruel way. … He had known her not once but twice; he had gone back to give her a second son. And between, how many times, I thought, bleak of spirit, while her husband in his impotence and I in my innocence did nothing.

. . .At last I made an effort and roused myself…

“It is as you say a long time ago,” I said wearily. “That she is evil and powerful I know myself. Let it rest.”

She accepts the blow and moves on in life. In addition, when her son Raja is murdered, even her thoughts do not express rebellion. She moves from nu…

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…osites of Kunthi. Their goodness originates in their acceptance of suffering, whereas Kunthi’s evil originates in her refusal to sacrifice herself for others. As ideal images, Markandaya’s heroines correlate with Shirwadkar’s conception of how early Indo-Anglian novels portray women as Sita-like characters. By fulfilling cultural values, however, Rukmani and Ira find in their way of lifenot only suffering but also a sureness and inner peace. Shirwadkar claims that women in later novels lose even the satisfaction of this fulfillment, because they find themselves trapped between the traditional and modern requirements for women. Earlier images of calm, enduring women change to new ones, of frustrated women caught between the Sita-Savitri figure and the modern, Westernised woman.

Works Cited:

Markandaya, Kamala. Nectar In A Sieve. New York: Signet Fiction, 1995.

Freedom and Virtue in John Milton’s Comus and Areopagitica

Freedom and Virtue in John Milton’s Comus and Areopagitica

The martyred author of Utopia, Sir Thomas More-executed for treason against the king-is credited with the final words, “If I must live in a world in which I cannot act within my conscience, I do not wish to live!” Generations later, the fiery patriotism and explicit candor of Patrick Henry led him to utter the renowned “Give me Liberty or give me death!” Along the same lines of these two men, John Milton’s “Areopagitica” argues that the essence of life is freedom to choose how one lives it. In another of Milton’s works, the masque play Comus, the Elder Brother’s statements concerning virtue establish some of the foundations for his argument in the work he wrote “in order to deliver the press from the restraints with which it was encumbered” (716).

The root of Milton’s assertions lies in his complete hope in the prevailing of virtue. In these two works, confidence in virtue and in the ability of good men to practice it is crucial. The first part of the Elder Brother’s statement is, in fact, a comment on confidence, in response to his brother’s question concerning the unfavorable odds stacked against the Lady, their sister. He says, “Yes, and keep [confidence] still,/ Lean on it safely . . . against the threats/ Of malice or of sorcery, or that power/ Which erring men call Chance” (584-588). The Elder Brother’s remarks show that he believes in the triumph of the Spirit against all odds, including the Fates and Fortune. As he states, “this I hold firm;/ Virtue may be assail’d but never hurt,/ Surpris’d by unjust force but not enthrall’d,” because it is founded upon the “will and arm of Heav’n” (588-600). Milton’s argument in the “Areopagitica” holds true to these ideas also, that we must have confidence in virtue and its ability to triumph over all trials and temptations because-if it is truly of God-it will stand predominant over all evils. In outlining his argument, Milton reminds his audience over and over of the duty they have to trust in the virtue of their fellow men; just as God allowed Adam to have the choice to err, so must the state give men the right to choose, to try their own ideas of virtue.

The Spirit describes:

Great Comus . . . whose pleasing poison

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