The Patriarchal notions in “Savitri” by Toru Dutt

Fatima Nighat


Gender is socially constructed rather than a matter of biology. Women and men usually behave in ways associated with their assigned gender because they are socially programmed to do so, not because it is natural for them to behave so. For example, aggressive behavior in males or care giving in women is generally considered an instinct, when they are a product of social programming. Women are oppressed by patriarchy, economically, politically and socially. The oppression includes women’s psychological repression at the level of the unconscious as well. The sight of their psychological subjugation is language. World is defined in terms of polar opposites, as head/heart, father/ mother, culture/ nature, strong/ weak, intelligent / palpable etc, and the woman occupies the right side of these opposites. In every domain where patriarchy reigns, woman is the other. She is objectified and marginalized, defined only by her difference from male norms and values. The desire to dominate the decision making is the projection of patriarchal society. This paper endeavors to explore the patriarchal and feminist agenda of Toru Dutt’s famous poem “Savitri”, taken from her volume, Ancient Ballads and Legends of Hindustan. The poem is ideologically conflicted. Race, class and other cultural factors also intersect here with gender and produce a unique woman’s experience.

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Dutt, Toru: Ancient Ballads Legends of Hindustan:

Allahabad, Kitabistan, 1941

Mitra, D : “The writings of Toru Dutt”

Indian Literature, IX , No 02, 1966


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