Comparison of A Doll’s House and Raktakarabi (Blood-Red Oleander))
Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House and Rabindranth Tagore’s Raktakarabi (Blood-Red Oleander) both of them are feminist play but they define freedom of women differently. Ibsen empowered women positioning them in the place of man because heroism is the standardization of power in western world. However, Tagore excludes the strength of the inherent power of women because in Indian philosophy women already had a strong position. In Indian philosophy every element of the universe consists of Prakriti (nature, the embracer) and Purusha (consciousness) and women are the representation of Prakriti and men are the representation of Purusha. In my paper I will analyze the paper how they define the freedom of women differently with the impact of regional philosophy.
Synopsys of A Doll’s House:
Henric Ibsen is the writer of A Doll’s House. The play premiered at the Royal Theatre in Copenhageen, Denmark, on 21 December 1879.
At the beginning of the play, Nora and Torvald Helmer appear quite happy together with the preparation of Christmas. The Helmer family is excited because Torvald got a new job as the manager of a bank and thus they don’t need to worry about money anymore. Torvald provides a job for Mrs. Christine Linde, a school friend of Nora who recently widowed, with the request of Nora. Nora confesses a secret to her school friend that she borrowed money to save Torvald life without letting Torvald.
Then the weird man Krogstad showed up in the novel. He started to threaten Nora that if Mr. Helmer rejects him from the job of Bank he will disclose Nora’s crime to Torvald that Nora signed her father’s signature to loan money. Nora frightens and thus she cried to Torvald to let Krogstad keep his job when Torvald came home. But Torvald gets angry for the request and send the resign later of Krogstad. Nora becomes so upset imagining terrible happening if Torvald knows the secret. To get some light she tells everything to her Christine. Christine says her that she had a relationship with Krogstad and she may be able to change Krogstad’s mind. In the meantime, Nora pretends to Torvald that she needs help about the dance for the party to stop opening the mail.
In Act Three, it is disclosed that Krogstad became immoral when Christine ditched him married a rich man. Christine says that she want to be with him again. Krogstad become happy and he said that he will demand the blackmail letter back. When Helmers has come back home and open the mail box Torvald found the secret and became so angry. He says to Nora that Nora is not to be allowed near the children anymore. However, Torvald forgives Nora when he found withdrawal of blackmailing later from Krogstad. However, this massacre changes Nora into a different person. She understands that there are no positions of love in the society, there are no lows to expose women in that society and she left home.
Synopsys of Raktakarabi (Blood-Red Oleander):
The play is written in 1923-24 by Rabindranath Tagore. The Bengla version of the play was staged in Tagore’s life time in their Jorasanko residence. The play shows a place named Yakasapuri. The center character of the Roktokorobi is Nandini. Nandini is bought from Rangan to Yakasapuri, a place of gold mine. The labors of this place work for gold mine. The king of this place stay inside a net, no one can see him.
The scene stars with blood-red oleander flower. Nandini needs Blood-Red Oleander everyday because his lover Ranjon calls her Roktokorobi, Blood-Red Oleander. A labor of the goldmine, Kishar, gifts the flower to Nandini stalling some time of his work. Though Nandini forbid him to gift the flower because Kishar is beaten sometimes for the stall but still he love to gift the flower. Then a professor comes to Nandidni and says that she is the only light of this dark town. Nandini ask him that why the king brought her only instead of bringing Nandini and Ranjan together. The professor answer that the method of the place is collecting only the broken part of something not the entire part of that. Then he wants a flower to realize the inside theory of the flower. Nandini give one flower because Ranjan her lover is coming that day.
Nandini goes to talk with the king of Yakasapuri and want to see him but the king do not let her see. Nandini try to let him understand the beauty of the nature instead the greed of gold but she failed. Nandini provide the news that Ranjan is coming today to the king. Then the writer introduce different characters of Yakasapuri of the play such as, Gokul (a doubtful labor) Fagulal and Chandra (a drank labor of goldmine and his wife), Bishu (a singer, Nandini listen song from him), Gosai (religious leader), Sardar (leader), Paloan (shoulder), Cikitshak (doctor) etc. All of them are talking with each other about the spontaneity of Nandini because spontaneity is the only thing that absence of this place.
Again Nandini come to the king with the singer, Bishu. That time the king comes in front of them with a fossil of frog. He said that a frog enter into stone and stayed three thousand years. He said that this frog taught him how to exist but it does not know how to live, thus he break the net and come to the town. She said to the king that Ranjan, the spirit of freedom, is coming today, all stone wall will break down, and everything will turn into happiness when Ranjan come. The king then asks if he smash Ranjan in the sand what will happen. Nandini became afraid and ask the reason of his cruelty. He said that he will get something or destroy something instead of compassion but the king wants to see them together due to interest.
The leaders of the town are conspiring against Ranjan. They are planning how they restrict Ranjan from their town, because Ranjan is harmful for them. In the meantime, Nandini search Ranjan in the whole town. At the end, she come to the king and sees the dead body of Ranjan. She ask the reason of the killing but the king realize that he is betrayed by his machine; he did not know that the name of this boy is Ranjan. Then Nandini wants to fight with him with her all energy. Then the king breaks the flag and invite her to destroy him. He says to her that the freedom of him hides inside of his distraction.
Analyze of A Doll’s House:
I analyze the play A Doll’s House from the end with questioning why Nora left home? Because she realizes that there is no space for love in the society where she lived. For instance, when Helmer said to her, “…no man would sacrifice his honor for the one he loves.” Then she replied, “It is a thing hundreds of thousand women have done.” (Ibsen. A Doll’s House. P.78) Again she said “…I find imposible to convince myself that the law is right. According to it a womam has no right to spare her old dying father, or save her husband life.” (Ibsen. A Doll’s House. P 77) She left the home that represent she left the society where has no place for love in with their laws.
In my analysis, the problem started with another woman Cristine. Cristine was educated from her society that women are recognized by their husband and women power was related to their father and husband. Thus she jilted Nils Krogstad and had to marry a lucrative person to save her mother and brother. When she jilted Nils Krogstad, ‘life had taught’ him ‘not to believe in fine speeches.’ (Ibsen. A Doll’s House. P 59) He stated that, “when I lost you, it was as if all the solid ground went from under my feet.” (Ibsen. A Doll’s House. P 58) It shows that when she left her he became so upset and started to be lucrative by any cost without thinking morality. We see that Torvalt Helmer resigns him due to his immorality. Torvald said to Nora that he cannot work with Mr. Krogstad because Krogsted “lies and hypocrite with everyone, how he has to wear a musk in the presence of near and dear him, even before his own wife and children… This Krogsted, now, has been persistently poisoning his own children with lies and dissimulation; this why I say he has lost all moral character.” (Ibsen. A Doll’s House. P. 58) That means Nils Krogstad started being immoral after the rejection from Cristine and Cristine reject him because she did not have another option to protect her mother and younger brother. So, the society forces women to have lucrative person and the lucrativeness of man is defined by the amount of money and power.
The writer shows in his play the helplessness of a widow with the character of Mrs. Linde. We see the women role and women existence in the society with Mrs. Linde’s conversation when she express the situation after her husband’s death to Nora, “I only feel my life unspeakably empty. No one to live for anymore. That was why I could not stand the life in my little backwater any longer. (Ibsen. A Doll’s House. P. 12) When a woman lost her husband her all lights of life turned off. She loses the inspiration to live. Therefore, Mrs. Cristine character shows the difficulties that face when a woman does not powered by a man.
On the other hand, Nora’s character shows the situation where a woman is powered by man, her husband Torvald. Nora does not care about the society like Mrs. Christine because the social things are decided by man and to think of society she has her husband. Thus she is disconnected with the tiresome society, she is thinking only for her husband, “What do I care about tiresome Society? I am laughing at something quite different, something extremely amusing?” (Ibsen. A Doll’s House. P. 19) But Nora has a little power over his husband that proves when she asked Mrs. Linde job to his husband and his husband gives her job. Therefore, the play explains a society where women have a little power in her family but still Torvald does not admit the request when she ask the job of Krogstad. Therefore, the main power is seized by man.
However, in my analysis, at the end when Nora left home, she provoke three question to the viewer. Where is the position of love in the society? What are the laws to expose women in the society? What is the foundation of the relation?
Analyze of Raktakarabi (Blood-Red Oleander):
The protagonist Nandini starts where Nora stops. Nandini is the only light of the dark colorless place Yakshapuri. Nora questioning that what the foundation of the relation is, and where the evaluation of love stays. Nandini starts with the evaluation of love. Nandini already free from the system and enlighten other from the darkness of system. In Raktakarabi Ranjan is the spirit. He is not any part of constriction. He is the sign of freedom of love, happiness. Nandini spread that spirit of love to Yakshapuri. Kishar, Professor, Fagulal, Bishu even the King love her with different outward appearance. This love means love of the spontaneity of one’s life love of Prana. Bishu knows his inside brightness in front of the light of Nandini. His spontaneity sparkle with the touch of Nandini. Thus he says when Nandini express the inability of purchasing the song, “I’ll hold your inability on my head like crown. I’ll not sell the song with money.”
Nandini comes in the dark down with the overflow of joy. She never hide herself, she has the courage of exposing herself with the strength of love. When her spirit Ranjan was killed she become furious and stands strongly for fight. The awful king has to surrender in front of the strength. The aim of the play is breaking the structure of the system that creates boundary over love with the energy of Prakriti, the nature. There is aspiration to go back to the agriculture based society where people could live connecting with nature. Indian philosophy of Prakriti and Purusha has impact in Tagore’s play. Nandini is the representation of Prakriti who is the preserver of spirit and Ranjan is the representation of the Purusha.
In conclusion, if we see the nature of Noeway, the place of writer of A Doll’s House, it is a cold country. They are successor of the ancient hunters, the great heros. Because of hunting they need to travel. It was really difficult traveling for women when they pregnant. Thus they had to rely on man. If we see the ancient western world, we see heroes were in the supreme place and all heroes were men. A Doll’s House has impact of his nature. On the contrary, the nature the place of Tagor is quite different. Bangla is the agriculture based place from the ancient period. They look the land as their mother. They women are the representation of nature. Thus they worship Kali, Laksmi, Basumoti the women deities. Roktokorobi (Red Oleander) has impact with that philosophy where he represent Nandini as Prakriti, the nature that embrace love, and Ranjan as Purusha, the consciousness, the spirit.
1.Ibsen, Henrik. A Doll's House. New York: Dover Publications, 1992. Print.
2.Tagore, Rabindranath, and Ananda Lal. Three Plays. New Delhi: Oxford UP, 2001. Print.
3.Templeton, Joan. "The Doll House Backlash: Criticism, Feminism, and Ibsen." JSTOR. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Dec. 2014.
4.Sen, Abhijit, and Subir Dhar. "Red Oleander: Rabindranath Tagore." Netaji Subhash Open University Publisher, 2007. Print.