Dolls In Karnad's Hayavadana

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Karnad’s Hayavadana explores the fashionable dilemma of identity crisis from a modern outlook based on Indian mythical folklore. In the play, Karnad uses dolls as a significant conventional motif of folk theatre to create a bizarre mythical world. Through the presence of dolls, Karnad presents Hayavadana with elements of Brechtian epic theatre such as alienating effect and problematizing empathy. By engaging the audience with a fictional world that is distanced from a reality, Karnad draws links to the contradictions about female sexuality in an oppressive Indian patriarchal society, specifically about the social issues regarding women’s existence within complicated marital relationships. In this essay, I argue that dolls in Hayavadana function…show more content…
Through the presence of dolls, the capability of women in adopting an authoritative gaze on objects is emphasised. This potentially signifies the agency that women have to instil an autonomy on their sexuality where they can freely and outwardly reveal their sexual desires in a patriarchal space. However, Padmini’s gaze on the dolls is posited as less powerful than the masculine gaze on women in a patriarchal society although her gaze may be authoritative on dolls. Ultimately, Padmini is rendered as helpless and significantly objectified like the dolls in the play. Also, while Padmini refuses to accept the tattered dolls because it may bring bad luck to the house, she is ignorant to the fact that her husband Devadatta is also a disoriented human being with Devadatta’s head and Kapila’s body. The incomplete being of Devadatta living in the same space with Padmini, forces the blame on her as an unrighteous woman in the public’s eyes, rather than for them to understand the transposition of heads that happened before. This is also due to the objectification of women, even after they are married because they retain a sexual appeal for another man’s masculine gaze in a patriarchal society and they are not entirely unavailable for feeding into the masculine sexual fantasies. This objectification of women is more prominent when the potential of masculine gaze as oppressive to women’s sexual autonomy is derived from the failure of the husband as a “complete” man as defined and accepted by patriarchal ideology. Although the play presents a subversion of masculine gaze when Padmini asserts her female sexuality through her sexual desires and fantasies and having a completeness in her experience by having the best

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