Summary Of Chira Banerjee Divakaruni's The Palace Of Illusions

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Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni’s The Palace of Illusions retells the Mahabharata through the eyes of Draupadi. The title itself serves as a general metaphor for life. “Maya” is an illusion that we humans continue to sustain with much efforts and pains, through conflicts, meanness, and humiliation, while we certainly lack understanding about the laws that govern our lives. This novel positions its readers even more completely in a world that is old and new, magical and real at the same time. Its importance for studies lies partly in what it tells us of the epic’s popular reception and partly for its potential to enliven our reading of the original. Also of interest is how the modern rendering fits into the centuries-old tradition of Draupadi-centered…show more content…
She rejects thus the egotistic name her father gave her and refuses to believe that her identity is to be bound by the men in her life. There are many who believe that it was her headstrong actions that brought about the destruction of the Third Age of Man (Dhuapara Age), and she is known to be a kritya, one who brings doom to her clan. But Chitra Banerjee moves away from such interpretations to provide a new outlook on Panchali. She portrays Panchali as a powerful, strong and independent woman, an equal to the men around her, rather than subservient. The novelist presents Panchali’s life as a series of choices made by herself, and not by the people around her, giving her a voice in the overwhelmingly patriarchal society in ancient India. Divakaruni’s interpretation of the epic provides a complete narrative, sometimes missing from the original epic, giving a stronger role to women of the story, and portraying them as equals in society. This approach of the author emboldens one to argue safely, without much fear of contradiction, that The Palace of Illusions is feminist reading of the…show more content…
It is an attempt to describe and interpret women’s experience as depicted in various kinds of literature – especially the novel, and to lesser extent, poetry and drama. It questions the long standing, dominant, male, phallocentric ideologies, patriarchal attitudes and male interpretations in literature. It attacks male notions of value in literature – by offering critiques of male authors and representations of men in literature and also by privileging women writers. In addition it challenges traditional and accepted male ideas about the nature of women and about how women feel, act and think, or are supposed to feel, act and think, and how in general they respond to life and feeling. It thus questions numerous prejudices and assumptions about women made by male writers, mainly the tendency to cast women in stock character roles. . The status of women in the epic as a whole is pitiable though one finds women like Satyavati, Kunti, Gandhari, Draupadi, holding influence in their family circles, women like Sulabha with scholarly pursuits, those like Savitri changing destinies of their husbands; there are on the other hand women like Ambika and Ambalika, the wives of Vichitravirya, Sudesna, Madayantika, who are so much devoid of any freedom that they have to submit to the embrace
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