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The Epic Ramayana by Valmiki Essay

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Updated: May 7th, 2019

Ramayana is a book written a long time ago, and which is estimated to be between 1500 and the fourth century. It is one of India’s greatest epics written to date. The story has been adapted, and retold in many different ways; however, this particular one is translated by Narayan.

The story has several female characters that are either praise worthy or antagonistic. This paper reflects on the characteristics of the praiseworthy and antagonist female characters who opposed Rama.

The first praise worthy female character is Sita, who is Rama’s wife. One characteristic of Sita is that she is loyal to her husband Rama. When Rama is exiled from the Ayodhya kingdom by his father king Dasharatha, Sita follows her husband into the forest.

When Rama tells Sita not to follow him into exile, she replies that where her husband Rama dwells is home to her, and she cannot remain behind in the kingdom because it would be like hell for her to stay without Rama [46]. This serves as a show of loyalty.

Her loyalty is seen in the book again, when she is abducted by the demonic Ravana, who is king of Lanka, to avenge his demon sister’s disfiguring. King Ravana demands that Sita accept his marriage proposal, but she declines because of her loyalty to Rama.

Ravana detains her, and has her guarded heavily. This, however, does not make her change her mind. Sita’s loyalty is also seen when Hanuman, the hero of monkey kingdom, offers to carry her out of captivity, but she refuses the offer because she cannot allow any other man to touch her except Rama.

The second characteristic of Sita is purity. She declines Ravanas marriage proposal in order to remain pure, and after spending time in captivity, she willingly goes through the test of fire. She successfully undergoes the fire test, and in turn proves her purity.

She declines to be carried out of captivity by Hanuman in order to preserve her purity. Aside from that, Sita dearly loves her husband. This is shown when she insists that Lakshmana help Rama, when he chases the golden deer, and later hears him calling out to her.

At this point, Sita is afraid for Rama’s life and will do anything to save him. She opts to remain unprotected and sends Lakshmana after Rama [85].

The second praise worthy character is Queen Tara, the second wife of Sugriva. Queen Tara’s main character trait is that she is clever. This is evident through the way she intervenes and prevents the destruction of monkey citadel from Lakshmana.

Sugriva, her husband, refuses to honor his promise to Rama of helping him rescue Sita, after Rama helps him to regain the throne by killing his elder brother Vali. This angers Lakshmana who wants to destroy the monkey kingdom, but Queen Tara convinces Sugriva to honor his promise.

The first female antagonistic character is Kaikeyi, who is one of the queens in the kingdom of Ayodhya. Queen kaikeyi, who is the second wife of king Dasharatha, is very jealous. She exposes this trait when king Dasharatha decides to crown his son Rama, the king instead of her son Bharata.

She uses two boons that the king had granted her in the past to demand that Rama be exiled from the kingdom for fourteen years in order for her son to assume the throne since he is next on line.

Kaikeyi is also cunning, for she waits until it is the eve of the great event which the king has organized to use her boons. She knows that the king will have no choice but to grant her wishes due to his bound honor.

The second antagonistic character is Surpanakha the demoness princess, who is Ravana’s sister. Surpanakha is a lustful woman. On visiting Lakshmana, Rama and Sita in the Panchavati forest where the three lived in exile, she falls in love with the brothers.

She tries to seduce them through taking different forms, but her attempts are futile. Surpanakha’s second characteristic is that of vengeance. When her seduction tricks fail to temp any of the two brothers, she tries to kill Sita.

Though her plans fail, she is disfigured by Lakshmana who cuts her ears and nose, an action that leads to Sita’s capture to avenge her disfiguration and to hurt Rama [80].

The third antagonistic character is Manthara, who is a maidservant in the Ayodhya kingdom. Manthara is wicked. This is best illustrated when she arouses Kaikeyi’s jealousy by telling that her son should be the heir instead of Rama.

This wickedness results into Rama being exiled from the kingdom for fourteen years, and denied his rights as king.

The significance of these character traits found in both praise worthy and antagonistic female characters in the book, is to bring out the central theme of the story, which is the battle between evil and good.

This is because the traits show the good and evil that exists in human beings, and which is one of the themes brought out throughout the story. In the end, good surpasses evil.

Works Cited

Narayan, Krishnaswamy. The Ramayana: A Shortened Modern Prose Version of the Indian Epic, New Delhi: Penguin Books, 2006. Print.

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IvyPanda. (2019) 'The Epic Ramayana by Valmiki'. 7 May.

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