Literature-Perceptions' Play


What is Literature? Why is it needed? What significance does it hold in our lives filled with hustle bustle? If so how?  These have always been the brow raisers to most of us when we try to delve into this entity.

  Literature to me, if I have to say, is the reflection of the world, the society and the family if it is perceived from  a farther end  and  it closes in as I proceed in depth and I finally realise it is nothing but  the reflection of ME.  It brings out the soul in me and through me my insight about my family, my society and at large, my world!!

Sounding crazy, am I not? Let me explain.

How do I see myself? As a woman who can stoop to the dust to see her beloved ones soar to heights, get hurt every time when the love shown doesn’t shine back at her and when her sincerity is taken advantage of. Now how does this reflect on my family? It tells that I was raised as a sensitive person by my family and as a daughter was cocooned by my parents from the society. My society is projected as one where noble people were not paid heed to, goodness and love were mocked upon and innocence was taken advantage of. In short, my world had shrunken into selfish pockets where the things seen and people met are used to seek one’s own benefit. The observations that are made above are merely through my perceptions of the world as I saw it through my eyes. Allow me to illustrate.

               Let us talk about people we all know well.  Say Shylock from The Merchant of Venice. How does Shakespeare present him to us? As a selfish, cut throat Jew whose love is money. One who doesn’t hold anyone close to his heart but money. He despises the Christians and never lets a chance of sneeringly jeer at them, slip from his hands. His policy of taking interest also substantiates his unjust life style. Isn’t this exactly what we also think about him? We are like the horses that have blinds tied. We see only what we are given to see. Let us, for some time, become rebellious steeds that wish to see differently! How about analysing the situation through his family? His wife passes away at a very early age leaving under his custody their daughter. His daughter who loves a Christian hates her dad for his ways and means of making money. The society he lived in was a discriminating one. The merchants of Venice under the leadership of the rich Antonio detested the Jews especially Shylock. They called him a dog and spat on him thus fanning the fire of discrimination among the Christians and hatred in the mind and heart of Shylock.  Shylock takes the insult that is personal to the most extreme level and transforms it into the insult against his whole community- the Jews. Thus he assimilates all the Jews in his fight against the Christians. The World- Venice the capital of trade was full of merchants who were wealthy and boisterous. This sets the ball rolling for Antonio’s friend Bassanio to seek help from Antonio the well to do Merchant friend, to seek his fortune. Antonio whose wealth was in the sea, borrows money from Shylock who gets a right opportunity to avenge his insult. His vengeance aggravates when his daughter robs him of his money and trust and elopes with a Christian. Crestfallen and hurt as an insulted Jew and a letdown father, he seeks retribution. Is he wrong? It is a tough probing.

            Hence we can conclude that it is perception that gives meaning to a literary piece. No doubt that Literature is the reflection of the society that saw the events mentioned, happen.  When we start seeing things with various perceptions, we get to understand things, people and situations in different ways which in turn add depth to the understanding we develop. Ultimately, good is not always good and bad isn’t always bad. Something has to be good to become bad and so is the case with good things also. We need to be discursive and have to see both the sides of the coin. 

Posted By: Sripriya Manuel Category: Literature

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About Sripriya Manuel

Mrs Sripriya Manuel, born in Mumbai, India, is an English Language Teacher currently based in Bangalore, Karnataka, India. She has been into to teaching career for about two decades now. Currently she works as the Principal, Kuvempu Adarsha Public School,RMV 2nd Stage, Bangalore. She has her B Ed from Indira Gandhi National Open University(IGNOU), and her Masters from Annamalai University, Tamilnadu. Apart from her academic actvitiess, Ms Manuel has also published her writings in well known magazines and newspapers including Times of India, All etc. Some of her poems have been made part of academic curriculum in the schools in Bangalore.

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