Roles in the Sakuntala

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Roles in the Sakuntala

Sakuntala is thought to have been based on true accounts that happened many years before it was written. King Dushyanta meets and falls in love with Sakuntala, a beautiful and graceful young lady who he meets while on a hunting expedition. He marries her without scriptural rites, though permitted by the social conventions of the time. The story emphasizes the role of women at the time using Sakuntala as the lead character.

Women are treated like slaves in the story though they are given more responsibilities, which is an indication that at the time women were capable of handling more chores which somehow shows their intelligence (Miller and Edwin 12). Sakuntala plays the disparaging role of doing all the chores by force, such as the manual labor around the house and food gathering. Sakuntala is helped do her chores by Priyamvada and Anasuya as well as Mother Gautami, her caregiver. 

The men do their role by showering love to the women by valuing them even though they perform all the meaningless work. King Dushyanta, for instance shows this through his love for Sakuntala especially through the despair he feels when he realizes he has turned her away. The men value the changing role of women close to them but not as much in society. However, they see women actually as regressing rather than progressing in the subservient roles they are made to play.

The protagonists and antagonist in the play may be harder to sort out at first but as the story unfolds, it is found that Sakuntala and King Dushyanta are the protagonists since the tale focuses on their love. The evil antagonist in the story is Durvasa, the sage who is narcissistic and vengeful shown by the curse he places on Sakuntala.

Comedy plays out when the ring is found in a fish stomach which makes the king happy thus reminding him of Sakuntala again. The scene is used to provide comic relief to the audience and draw interest into the character of King Dushyanta and Sakuntala as they are reunited above the clouds as they watch his remarkable son’s prowess. The finding of the ring and reunion of the protagonists gives the play a happy mood after suffering, which shows conflict resolution to the audience. The author puts the scene in such a manner so that the characters are not entirely responsible for their mess in their relationship since they overcome the sage’s curse.

Dharma is shown when the king marries Sakuntala, since it commands one to strive with endeavor to extend their family for the man’s own sake as well as that of his forefathers (Kalidasa 14). Moreover, it is at that moment the king lectures the goddess about the eight kinds of marriage including his own proposal to Sakuntala in accordance with dharma in which Sakuntala replies that she accepts the proposal (Kalidasa 16). After the long separation, the king accepts back his son and wife on the basis of dharma.

As the play ends there is a slight relation between the reunion of the king and Sakuntala and karma. The king is punished for acts he had not committed as Sakuntala failed to greet the sage solely because she was preoccupied with her love for the king (Miller and Edwin 28). The play can be read as karma since everyone gains back what they had lost. There is a cyclic view of karma as Sakuntala returns, after her escape from punishment for disrespect, to a reward for providing protection from evil for the gods.

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