Project 2- Shakuntala Themes and Symbols

Kaitlyn Mader

Dr. Helms

Currents in Global Literature

October 20, 2020

Second Project- Themes and Symbols in Shakuntala

            For my second project, I decided to do a more interactive and visual project.  I decided to do a Jeopardy type “game”.  I chose to do this project on Kalidasa’s play Shakuntala.  I wanted to focus my project on what I thought were the most important themes and symbols in the play.  The important themes/symbols that I chose were; Love, Curses, Nature, and the Natural/Spiritual World.  I set up my Jeopardy game board by listing the themes/symbols on the left side of the board, and some important clues/quotes that I picked out on the right side of the board.  Each quote that I picked out “goes with” a certain overarching theme from the play, that it can be matched up with.  I put the themes out of order, so the players wouldn’t be able to easily guess which quotes went with which themes.  There are also a few quotes that could technically go with two or more themes, but the goal of my game is to match it up with the theme that it relates most to.  Below I have listed the quotes that I chose to include.  I also listed the corresponding acts that they were from, as well as the theme that they go along with.

            I chose to focus my project on Kalidasa’s Shakuntala because I enjoyed this play a lot and the overarching themes of the play caught my interest while I was reading the play.  I liked how the play started off very quickly with the idea of love as the theme, and then again ended with the theme of love after the characters overcome the obstacles that they faced throughout the middle of the play.


Act 4- Curses

“OFF-STAGE VOICE: So, you slight a guest, do you?

That man whose brilliance
Robs your thought of everything, including me,
A great ascetic fired by penance—
That man, though prompted,
Shall not remember you at all,
Like a drunken sot, who cannot recall
What he said in his cups the night before.

PRIYAMVADA: Ah! What a disaster! Absent-minded Shakuntala has offended someone she should have welcomed. [Looking ahead] And not just anyone—it’s the great sage Durvasas—short-tempered’s not the word! Now he’s cursed her, spun on his heel, and shot off like a flaming arrow!”

Act 1- Nature

“VAIKHANASA: King, this is a hermitage deer. You should not—you must not kill it!

Indeed, indeed, no missile should be shot,
Scorching, like a flame through velvet petals,
This young fawn’s tender head.
Alas, what is the filigree life
In this poor animal’s frame,
Beside the adamantine rain
Of bowshot?”

Act 1- Nature

“ANASUYA: Dear Shakuntala, here’s that jasmine you call Light of the Forest. She’s chosen the fragrant mango as her bridegroom. You’ve forgotten her.

SHAKUNTALA: Only when I forget myself. [Approaches the jasmine and gazes at it] The union of this tree and this jasmine has taken place at the most wonderful time—the jasmine is a young plant, covered in fresh blossoms, the mango has soft buds, and is ready for enjoyment…”

Act 7- Love

“KING: [seeing Shakuntala] Ah, it is the lady Shakuntala!

Her robes are dusky, drab,
Her hair a single braid,
Her cheeks drawn in by penance—
She’s been so pure and constant
In that vow of separation
I so callously began.

SHAKUNTALA: [seeing the KING pale from suffering] He doesn’t look like my husband. Who is this who dares to pollute my son with his touch, in spite of the amulet?

BOY: [running to his mother] Mamma, this stranger is calling me his son!

KING: My dear, that cruelty I practiced on you has come full circle, since now it is I who need to be recognized by you.”

Act 7- The Natural/Spiritual World

“MARICA: When Menaka came to Aditi, transporting her daughter from the nymphs’ ford in such obvious distress, I saw, in meditation, that you had rejected your forest wife because of a curse, spoken by Durvasas. I saw too that the curse would lift when you caught sight of this ring.

KING: [sighing with relief] So—I am not to blame.

SHAKUNTALA: [to herself] It’s good to know my husband didn’t reject me for no reason at all. And yet I don’t remember being cursed. Or perhaps it fell unnoticed through the emptiness of separation that engulfed me then. My friends did urge me to show the ring to my husband.

MARICA: Daughter, now you know the truth. Feel no resentment towards your lord.”

One thought on “Project 2- Shakuntala Themes and Symbols

  1. I kinda love this idea. It seems as though it could potentially be a good way to review the play in terms of themes while also having a lot of fun. I think if you were to do this as some kind of review (or even… a future lesson for students if you’re planning on being a teacher?) then you should include more quotes/ themes to mix and match. I think it would be really cool to have students justify their answers as well so that if their reasoning is solid then they won’t necessarily get it wrong. I also think the symbols/ themes you did pick out really encompass the book. The project seems pretty rad.

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