Saturday, December 13, 2014
Monday, December 08, 2014
ഒരു ശാന്തിഗീതം കൊതിച്ചെത്തിയപ്പോള്
പുഴ പാടിയതൊരു ചരമഗീതം.
ഓരോ തരിയിലും ഭൂതവും ഭാവിയും പേറി
മരിക്കാന് കിടക്കുന്നൂ പുഴ സ്വന്തം ചരമഗീതവും പാടി!
നീണ്ട കൊക്കുപിളര്ത്തിയൊരു പക്ഷി
തിളയ്ക്കുും മണല്പരപ്പില് കാത്തിരിക്കുന്നു,
ഒരുകൊത്തു പുഴമാംസം കൊണ്ടു വിശപ്പടക്കാനുമാവാം.
മരണം - അതെത്ര ഭീകരം!
ഒരു പുഴയ്ക്കൊക്കെ മരിക്കാനുമാവുമോ?
The Doll’s House is a short story written by Katherine Mansfield. It has about 2500 words and is within the norm of short story. The protagonist Kezia leads the reader through her innocent childhood experiences. The story speaks of and is knit around the social evil of class separation and propagation of class consciousness from generation to generation. The doll’s house, itself a symbol arrives the Burnell family and sets the story into motion.
The narrative mode used is description. The author uses picturesque language to paint a visual picture of the setting and characters. But she never is overgenerous with the number of words. Her descriptions are crisp and to the point. Sufficient details are given about situations, things and characters. However she takes extra care and space to describe the doll’s house which has central space and layers of significance in the story. Speech mode is used wherever verbal exchanges take place.
There are only two major scenes and one last scene- the Burnells’ house, the school and the last scene where the Kelveys sit and reflect. There are three scene shifts and all of them are natural and essential for the flow of the story.
There are about 10 characters named in the story. But if one counts only the active or significant ones, ignoring the mere mention of names, we get six which is within the norm of a short story. They are, Aunt Beryl, Isabel, Kezia, Lil, Else and Lena (in the order of appearance). Among them Kezia, Lil and Else are central to the story.
The story follows linear chronological progression. The incidents mentioned happen sequentially in order. The story begins on one fine summer day at the Burnells’ home when the doll’s house gifted by Mrs. Hay was brought in. Everyone is amazed at the beauty and details of the doll’s house. The three children of the house are lured by the novelty of the new plaything. The next day at school they tell their friends about it and all are amazed. Everyday two of them would visit the Burnells’ and see the doll’s house. The school also has the Kelvey children Lil and Else who are not of the same class as others. There is no one to speak to them, no one to like them. Except them all have seen the doll’s house. Kezia wants to show it to them, but has no permission. One day when everyone is busy with the guests, she leads the Kelveys to the doll’s house. But she is caught red handed and the Kelveys are chased away. The Kelvey children walk away in fear. When they sit to relax, they feel happy for the little they see of the doll’s house.
The author uses third person narrative to tell us the story. This technique is advantageous in letting us know of what is within characters’ minds. Narrator is a person other than the characters. This omniscient narrator lets us into the mental, psychological and emotional landscapes of all the characters. By looking at life from outside, the author has a bird’s eye view of the social mentality. Because of this point of view the evil of class segregation and its shameless perpetuation is evidently visible to the reader, but not to the characters.
In the beginning of the story we see that the doll’s house comes from outside. It is foreign. It is new and beautiful with all its red carpets, paintings with golden frames, red and green furniture, beds and bedclothes, cradle, stove, dresser and cutlery. The hook is stuck fast. It takes a bit of effort to open it. It also has a smell that is unbearable. Though it is well decorated and good looking, it emanates a stench so unbearable that it could make any one seriously ill according to Aunt Beryl. But when the attractions within are revealed, they were ready to ignore the stench to embrace the pleasure of the beauty of the doll’s house.
Here, the doll’s house represents the society itself. It has a stench very unbearable. But when opened- like the doll’s house- it reveals the pleasures within and makes everyone forget the stench. The stench is the cancer of social evil; to be precise, class separation and pride. People are ready to be blind to this evil because it gives them access to certain privileges and pleasures. People satisfy themselves with the artificial structures of the society while being inert to the stench of branding in the name of class.
What is the result? The members of the doll’s house become like the father and mother dolls- sprawling very stiff, insensitive and stiff as though they had fainted. And the children- asleep. All of them are unfit for the house. “They didn’t look as thought they belonged”.
There is another important consequence. Most of the observers were overwhelmed by the pomp of the doll’s house, but failed to see the most beautiful object in it- an exquisite lamp with white globe on the dining table, which was so life like. Everyone except Kezia missed the lamp. Why? What made her see it? Kezia is the only one in the family who is not yet indoctrinated with the evil of class system. In the innocence of her childhood, untainted by pretences of pride and prejudice she sees the lamp and liked it frightfully. It was the only thing- animate or inanimate- that fit in the doll’s house. The lamp seemed to smile to Kezia, to say, “I live here”. For her, “it was the best of all”. Even Isabel forgot to mention the lamp while boasting about it! It was the only real thing and it was the only thing unnoticed by the perpetrators of class system.
The school is a place where everyone mixes. It is the same place where innocent children practice the evil of class system learned at home. The Kelvey children- Lil and our Else- were the victims. They were the daughters of a poor but hardworking washerwoman. Her hard work doesn’t earn her respect, but is labeled by her poverty. Her poverty enabled the class society to decide that her husband was in prison. Even teachers looked down upon the Kelveys because they were daughters of a hardworking but poor woman. It is as if people couldn’t understand it was poverty that made Lil wear a dress assembled from curtains and table clothes! Else, an interesting and important character is always silent. No one has seen her smile. It seems she has accepted her fate of being hated. Or may be she represents her class whose heart is frozen because of centuries of being treated with hatred and arrogance.
Little Kezia desired to invite the Kelveys to see the doll’s house. “Certainly not. You know quite well why not” was the answer from her mother. Aunt Beryl also says the same in the end of the story. But truly, does anyone really know why not? I don’t think so. The myth of class is handed down generations as an abstract concept concretized in attitudes and actions. What is the reason? This is a relevant question, and I don’t think the stake holders have a reasonably convincing answer! Lena’s insensitive mockery at school is an evidence of this. Does that child know why she did so? No. She was only following what was instructed. Here we also see that the victims are also trained to take insult- with a silly, shame-faced smile.
Let’s come back to Kezia. She is innocent. Untainted by class system. When she got an opportunity she invited the Kelveys to see the doll’s house. She wanted to share the joy. She has a sense of justice; all have seen the doll’s house, so must the Kelveys. But the guardians of purity pounce on her innocent attempt and thwart her attempt. Aunt Beryl chases the Kelveys and gives Kezia a sermon, cold and proud.
Kelveys take the scolding without surprise and leave the scene. Even the omniscient narrator pretends as if she doesn’t know what’s going on in the Kelvey’s thoughts. But then the sweetest part of the story follows. Before falling silent, with a smile, our Else says, “I seen the little lamp”. The smile is rare, but real. Else shares something in common with Kezia- probably innocence of childhood which enables them to see the lamp. They are content with seeing the lamp. Else’s smile, together with Kezia’s innocence leaves the reader with the hope of a better tomorrow where everyone is equal.
Friday, December 05, 2014
വണ്ടിയിലോടാന് വേണം ലൈസന്സ്
വട വില്ക്കാനും വേണം ലൈസന്സ്
മോട്ടിക്കാനോ ബാങ്കിനു പറ്റും,
പറ്റിക്കാനോ കുത്തക പലത്,
അങ്ങനെ പലവിധ ലൈസന്സ് ലഭ്യം.
വ്യഭിചാരത്തിനു കിട്ടും ലൈസന്സ്
ലൈസന്സില്ലേല് തിരിമറി കുറ്റം