Tuesday, 4 June 2013

The Modern Woman in the Antique Society

It is seen in the drama Halfway House that the modern contemporary woman is lost in the chaotic and demanding world. The main protagonist Savitri is tied between household responsibilities and her tasks as a working woman. She is in a constant search for identity and individuality. Then again there is Savitri’s elder daughter Binni, who’s in a state of mental confusion as to who she really is and where she belongs. This is nothing but the existentialist dilemma – the absurd search for meaning in one’s life.

In the patriarchal society, the age-old traditions have always been such that woman never gets the upper-hand; they are not even considered equal. These traditions have been so heavy on women that they have accepted it without any complaints. In the new world where 3 out of every 7 women work and earn for their families, it is indeed confusing for the modern woman to find an identity for herself. But what is missing in their search for individuality is that the modern contemporary woman fails to look at herself as an 'independent' individual. She always looks for fulfillment in their male counterparts (as is the case with Savitri and Binni) and, never realizes that she is a totally independent character already. By earning for her family, creating a niche for herself in the big world, she already has the reins of her life in her own hands… if only every woman of the mankind can see that!

In fact, critique O P Sharma points out,

Halfway House is the search for individual dignity. The modern man demands both individual dignity as well as respect of his choice… it is the modern sensibility in all its intensity, form and dimensions.

The only solution to the modern woman’s dilemma might be a regenerated society in which the search for individuality is given more attention and, a world in which the “man” does not have the upper hand always.

In the movie 'The Devil Wears Prada', the main protagonist denounces all her fame to lead a simple life. On the other hand there is the character Miranda who denounces the family values for name and fame. Choosing one and rejecting the other is not the solution; that way the woman can only keep others happy, not herself. Then again, in the movie 'Sex and the City', the modern woman is shown to learn how to balance the modern and traditional. That is a far more creative and apt solution. One should learn to adopt the traditional as it is and modify it accordingly by adding modern vibes, just like the Arabian women as shown in the movie. I am not trying to judge the movies but providing my personal views on the matter of women and society.

The best example of modern thinking can be seen in the literary works of Victorian poet Christina Rossetti. In the poem 'Goblin Market'. she skillfully upholds the idea of sisterhood as a means of salvation for women; just like the concept of brotherhood for men. There she also blames the feminine-kind for their plight. According to her, women have always been meek and submissive. Moreover, they have always brought up their sons by giving them the notion that man is superior to woman. The girls have always been taught to be submissive to the men of the family. In fact, a common Victorian notion was 'girls are meant to be seen, not heard'. Their place was confined within the four walls of domesticity. No wonder women took to cross-dressing to transgress traditional boundaries, as shown in 'As You Like It' by Shakespeare.

This 'old as mankind' issue of individuality-independence-equality concerning women prevails- proving to be one of the foremost problems for the modern contemporary woman.

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