Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Shakunatala's Rejection: Kalidasa’s presentation of complex moral dilemmas in this single scene

The situation of the curse taking Dushyanta's memory of Shakuntala sets the stage for one of the most poignant demonstrations of a moral dilemma that we read about in literature.
What are the moral choices in this scene?
Dushyanta has no memory of marrying Shakuntala. He sees her pregnant and since he does not remember his making love to her, he assusme (as anyone would) that she is the wife of another man.
Yet Shakuntala knows the truth of his actions, but does not know that he has no memory of them.
The scene sets up Dushyanta to be the arch-hero or the arch-scoundrel depending on the perspective with which one views the circumstances:

Not knowing whether I be mad Or falsehood be in her, which is the heavier sin: Shall I desert her having proven herself a faithful wife, or take her not knowing if she is mine and risk being an adulterer?

1 comment:

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