Death as the ‘Datum’ in Alcestis and Svapnavāsavadattam: A Comparative Analysis
The IUP Journal of English Studies, Vol. X, No. 2, June 2015, pp. 37-53
17 Pages Posted: 23 Jun 2017
Date Written: June 22, 2017
Euripides (485 BC-406 BC) was the youngest of the great triad of Greek tragic poets. It is said that Euripides wrote the play, Alcestis as the fourth play in a tetralogy and Alfred Schone considers it “a parody, and finds it very funny.” But according to Gilbert Norwood, the play dealing “poignantly with the most solemn interests of humanity” and “imitating actual life more closely, belongs to the sphere of tragedy” though “presenting comic features.” Bhasa, who must have lived in the second half of the 4th century BC, is often referred to as the “Father of the Indian drama.” He is an accomplished Sanskrit poet of a very high order. He is known for his dramatic style and his plays are marked by profound psychological insight, striking figures of speech, brilliant epigrams and have all the navarasas — humor, heroism, surprise, anger, pity, terror, serenity, devotion and love. He wrote the play, Svapnavāsavadattam, by borrowing a theme from Gunādhya’s Brihatkatha. In both these plays that poignantly deal with the most solemn interests of humanity, the plot revolves around ‘death’ — real or faked. This paper attempts to analyze and comparatively evaluate the grace with which the playwrights handle the conflict with death and the challenges — unequal relationship of man to woman, death versus character, sacrifice versus self-interest and object versus subject, etc., — emerging therefore.
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