E240 Kalidasa Questions

Assigned: Kalidasa. Ã…Å¡akuntala and the Ring of Recollection (1267-1332).

Ã…Å¡akuntala and the Ring of Recollection

Act I

1. What tone does the Prologue establish for the play to come? What inferences may be drawn from the conversation between the Director and the Actress?

2. How does this act represent the awakening of love for each other in the King and in the ascetic young woman Ã…Å¡akuntala? What do they have going for them? What obstacles do they face?

3. How does the text's religious symbolism and context help us understand the subtleties and most significant layers of meaning in the story so far?

Act II

4. How might the Buffoon (the King's sidekick) be said to affect our perception of the King's continuing love for Ã…Å¡akuntala? What is the Buffoon's view of affairs of the heart, hunting, and courtly responsibilities?


5. Describe the alternation between directness and indirectness in the two lovers' expression of their desire for each other. What points of etiquette must be observed, but in what sense does this act also legitimize the love between the King and Ã…Å¡akuntala as "natural"?

Act IV

6. Why does the sage Durvasas become angry with Ã…Å¡akuntala, and what curse does he place upon her? What point about erotic passion does this incident reinforce?

7. What omens and what rituals surround the departure of Ã…Å¡akuntala for the palace and the fulfillment of her marriage with the King? What are her father Kanva's expectations for her once she gets there?

Act V

8. The King can't remember that he has married Sákuntala, but what thoughts does the text attribute to him at this difficult point -- what virtue does he recognize in the young woman? Why do the ascetics who have brought Sákuntala to the Court now abandon her there?

Act VI

9. With Sákuntala now whisked away by nymphs, the King is bitterly remorseful that he has remembered her too late. How does this act constitute part of the King's penance? What opportunity for redemption does the god Indra provide?


10. How does the text structure the King's rediscovery of and reconciliation with Sákuntala? How is the presence of their child instrumental in this process, and what larger significance does this child point to beyond the King's personal happiness?

Edition: Lawall, Sarah, ed. The Norton Anthology of World Literature. 2nd edition. Volumes 1ABC. New York: Norton, 2002. ISBN A = 0-393-97755-2, B = 0-393-97756-0, C = 0-393-97757-9.