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Mayawati & Germaine Greer!

Two events last week, have left me dumbfounded.

The first is the proposal for TETRAFICATION of the state of Uttar Pradesh and the Cabinet recommendation by the UP cabinet. The second is the statement made by Germaine Greer in THE HAY FESTIVAL conducted in Kerala on the 18th inst. where Germaine had stated that in the plays of  Shakespeare the male characters depicted by the Bard, were boyish and not “manly” and “mature”.

Both the resolution and the statement made by the ladies suffer from “INCOMPETENCE”.

To take Madam Mayawati’s issue first, the Constitution of India, at Article 3 empowers the Parliament and also prescribes a procedure for bifurcation, trifurcation and tetrafication or pentafication etc. of the States of the UNION of India. The Parliament of India is the only body competent to send a bill with such proposal to the President and thereupon the President may send the Bill to the affected state for its views. Period. There is no other body or institution which is COMPETENT to INITIATE this division of State legally. Yet, the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh has got a resolution passed by the Cabinet. This is EXCEEDING the powers mandated under the Constitution of India.

Next is the preposterous “observation” made by Germaine Greer about the male characters in Shakespeare’s Plays. Yes, Shakespeare was married to Anne Hathaway, who was 8 years elder to Shakespeare, so naturally Shakespeare must have been very well acquainted with Oedipus Complex (as enunciated by Sigmund Freud!) at a personal level. Germaine might be right in her observation that Shakespeare had made his female characters very strong. The strength of these female characters get accentuated more by the fact that they in some way are responsible in putting their menfolk to sleep. For example, Cleopatra, in ANTONY & CLEOPATRA, by withdrawing her forces at the crucial point without going for the aid of her ally, is not a strong feature, but a “WEAKNESS” rather the “FRAILTY” of the woman, who doesn’t follow the etiquette of a war. Cleopatra was a decadent. Her sensual pleasures came ahead of her duties as the ruler of Egypt. She was a scheming and a runaway ruler.

In the case of MACBETH, lady Macbeth just hardens herself in the presence of Macbeth, who suffers from pangs of guilt. Lady Macbeth is like Ahab’s wife Jezebel in the BIBLE. She had always provided solutions  (mostly Procrustean) to Ahab, who suffered from remorse or guilt. Jezebel had no such compunction. Lady Macbeth was just another manipulative Queen, who wouldn’t let go of her privileges and position, and thereby provokes the man to do deeds which are patently criminal or sinful.

Getting  to Gertrude (HAMLET), the character is pitiable. She was sharing the matrimonial bed with her husband’s murderer and balancing her love for her son Hamlet with the comfort and cosiness provided by Claudius.

On the whole, the women characters in the TRAGEDIES of Shakespeare do not have any strength of character, but show great manipulative skills and ability to hold on to what they have and make the most of a bad bargain.

In KING LEAR, there is more character shown by Lear, after the tragic defeat and loss, which arose more out of error in judgement and an inability to see through the guile of Goneril and Regan! His paternal feelings blocking off realpolitik.

Character is not to be a winner ALWAYS, but an ability to take the LOSSES and DEFEATS squarely and go through it without DITHERING and make amends.

Germaine Greer’s statement seems without COMPETENCE, as the male Characters of Shakespeare are shown blending their DUTIES with their EMOTIONS and failing in the process. That does not make the men BOYISH. Whereas, the women characters are GREEDY, RAPACIOUS, PUSILLANIMOUS and PLEASURE -SEEKING, nor do these traits make the women characters “STRONG”!


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