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Authors: Sumati
Keywords: FICTION
Issue Date: 2006
Abstract: This thesis explores and interprets the presence and significance of myths in the novels of Bharati Mukherjee. J. Chiari claims that science, philosophy, and the arts; all the audio, video, and printed versions, are various, complementary aspects of the human approach to truth. The pedagogical function of myths, as stated by the mythologist Joseph Campbell, serves as the yardstick to analyse the significance of myths in the lives of Mukherjee's protagonists: Tara Banerjee (The Tiger's Daughter), Dimple (Wife), Jasmine (Jasmine), Hannah Easton (The Holder of the World), Devi (Leave It to Me), Tara Bhattacharjee (Desirable Daughters), and Tara Lata (The Tree Bride). Myths are the containers of universal experiences, which engage across generations, and to whichevery individual can turn to discover a replica or reflection of his/her experiences. And literature, being both realistic and imaginative depiction of life, bears indelible marks of mythical contents in it. Bharati Mukherjee's novels are literary records of seven women of different backgrounds, out there on their adventures towards a new, self-defined identity. Each one of them takes up an inner or outer or both type of journey in the direction of their growth, transformation, and contentment. This study analyses these narratives from the perspective of the explicit or implied myths in them; it shows how mythic references define and explain the line of thought in Mukherjee's heroines, their fluctuating sensibility, their decisions, and also some crucial turns of events. It clarifies that the guidance and inspiration they draw from mythic tales alleviates their self-doubt and enables them to go ahead with 'viii confidence. Bharati Mukherjee has adopted directly from Hindu myths with religious and spiritual undertones; the tales related to Sita, the wife of Lord Rama in the Ramayana, and the myth of Devi, the mother goddess in her various forms like Kali, Mansa, Durga, play a vital role in Wife, Jasmine, Leave It to Me, and Desirable Daughters. Certain archetypes embodied in myths get reflected in all of her narratives. By setting an analogy between the circumstances in her protagonists' lives and these archetypes, I have tried to show that mythic contents in Mukherjee's novels serve as the vehicles of meaning in the narrative, providing insights into the protagonists' psyche and a window to the fuller understanding of certain crucial situations in the novels. The central part of the study is the application of the hero-archetype of Campbell's 'monomyth' to the dynamics of the transformative life-journeys of Mukherjee's protagonists. Maureen Mukrdock's hero-journey pattern for women has also been taken in account to make the analysis balanced. The discussion proceeds by setting Mukherjee's heroines against these twin models, displaying that during the perilous journey of self-exploration, Mukherjee's protagonists undergo a metamorphosis which takes its toll on the weak and undetermined while rewarding the persistent and flexible ones. By applying the hero-journey pattern to the modern context of the life-journey of these females, it becomes easier and clearer to understand and measure their failures and accomplishments. The models serve as a touchstone for the examination of the process of self-discovery of Mukherjee's protagonists as well as of any individual in general. IX Besides being females, Bharati Mukherjee's protagonists are immigrants as well, except Tara Lata in The Tree Bride. That makes for an intriguing study of these immigrants women in the light of the myth of American Dream. This myth of immense possibilities of an ideal existence is traditionally associated with immigrants to the USA. However, a comprehensive view of the phenomenon of immigration; the expectations and aspirations of immigrants, their bitter-sweet experiences of adjustment and establishment, and their hard-earned fulfilment in life, serves in universalizing the myth of American Dream. Although the fulfilment of this archetypal Dream still requires being 'American'; fitting, more or less, to the archetype of the American Adam, an embodiment of American character, the term 'American' is viewed in this study as a universal archetype, which bears no mark of a definite nationality. Bharati Mukherjee's protagonists move from one place to the other, dreaming of the greener pastures that shall enable them to get past the inner or outer inhibitions and restrictions, and be the master of their life. In the pursuit of this Dream, they get into touch with the core of their personality and get a clear perception of the scope of availing the resources to experience their full potential. Depending upon the extent of their forbearance in the face of challenges on the way, they either meet failure or emerge out successfully. The study encompasses the analysis of all possible mythic aspects of Bharati Mukherjee's novels and concludes on the note that myths serve as the anchors of the life-journeys of her heroines. She is in line with other major Asian American women writers like Maxine Hong Kingston and Hiromi Goto, who make myths the vehicle of meanings in their works. When investigated from Campbell's point of view, X1 which is the outcome of his study and inspiration from the psychologist Carl Gustav Jung, mythologist Heinrich Zimmer, anthropologist James C. Frazer etc., myths truly provide guidelines for Mukherjee's protagonists. It also facilitates the reader to evaluate the lives of these fictitious women as well as his/her own life in terms of its mythic significance, and get into touch with his/her self and with the global human fraternity.
Other Identifiers: Ph.D
Appears in Collections:DOCTORAL THESES (HSS)

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