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Title: Resistance and defiance of patriarchy : a study of Anita Desai's female characters as fictional counterparts to Hindu mythical women and cultural traditions
Author: Akhtar, Rizwan
ISNI:       0000 0004 2743 0422
Awarding Body: University of Essex
Current Institution: University of Essex
Date of Award: 2013
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This doctoral project is an analytical study of Indian writer Anita Desai's four novels produced from 1965 to 1980: Voices in the City (1965), Where Shall We Go This Summer? (1975), Fire on the Mountain (1977), and Clear Light of Day (1980). In these novels, Desai presents the theme of female resistance to patriarchy. With extensive reference to Indian feminist theorists, I suggest that this patriarchy is inherent in many Hindu mythological and religious traditions. Notable amongst these are the myths of Sita, Draupadi, Kali, and sati (widow-burning). I demonstrate how some Indian feminists, theorists and novelists, notably Desai, co-opt these myths and traditions in order to recharge them to feminist ends. Consequently, this study establishes the ways in which Desai's female protagonists are fictional counterparts to the modified Sita and sati myths. Chapter one deals with the cultural and historical phenomenon of reinterpreting the Sita myth and sati from feminist perspectives. The story of Sita and her husband Rama figures in the Hindu religious epic, The Ramayana. Modem retellings of the Sita-Rama story present Sita a resourceful and resilient woman, compared with the authoritative versions in which she appears as a docile and submissive wife. The subsequent four chapters present close readings of Desai' s four novels. My textual analysis establishes that Desai's women reject the patriarchal versions of these myths and inscribe alternative or oppositional versions. Desai's women defy patriarchal structures of power, and embark upon journeys of self-discovery. Therefore, for example, she employs "departure" as a narrative strategy to illustrate women's resistance to a culture which demands conformity. Women leave their husbands, homes and conformist traditions. This study concludes that in India, literature and culture are intertwined discourses, to which the four novels that I analyse testify
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available