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Sunday 19 October 2014

Critical Analysis of Mahesh Dattani’s play ' Dance like a man'

Aparna T.V
I-MA English

Critical Analysis of Mahesh Dattani’s play 'Dance like a man'

 Mahesh Dattani, an authentic contemporary voice, a director, playwright, producer, was born on 7th August, 1958 in Bangalore where he later founded his theatre group 'Playpen’ in 1984 and where many of his settings are constructed; for example, Bravely Fought the Queen is set in the „suburb of Bangalore and the Patels in Tara are from Bangalore. He is an intellectually stimulating Sahitya Academy Winner . Dattani‟s playscript casts its focus and locus entirely on the urban space, specifically rooted in the dynamics of domestic space. Environmental sustainability of the cities like Bangalore or Mumbai in his plays are the symbolic tropes and modes of economic power that can be categorized as the material element for discussing the issue of citizenship that “raise(s) questions around notions of equality and rights, issues of individual, group and community rights, active and passive citizenship and the relationship between, and relative primacy of, rights and duties” (Mallick 131).  There is proper blending of Western intellectual consciousness and

Indian theatrical techniques in his plays. He himself comments on the relevance of Indian theatre:
‘There is going to be a good positive development because as we
get into the internet age which isolates human beings, the act of
communication will be a premium. Theatre is our cultural activity
directly related to human beings’ communication with each other’
(Qtd in Chaudhuri 23).


The play Dance Like a Man, a stage play in two acts, is one of the most wonderful dramatic creations of Mahesh Dattani. It tells the story of three generations; their personal ambitions, sacrifices, struggle, compromises, internal conflicts and the way they try to cope up with the life; and mainly focuses on a dancing couple. The pathos of human predicament is explored in the subtlest way. It embodies a brilliant study of human relationships as well as human weaknesses through its characters. The play depicts the clash between issues such as marriage, career and the place of a woman in patriarchal social set up. It deals with the lives of the people who feel exhausted and frustrated on account of the hostile surroundings and unfavourable circumstances. The story is unfolded in time past and time present. The play was first performed at Chowdiah Memorial Hall, Bangalore on 22 September 1989 as a part of the Deccan Herald Theatre.

Dattani’s plays presents the socio-political issues, domestic and individual problems. In the play Dance like a man, dattani focuses on the conflict and clash between three generations, their conflicts and individual struggle.

Conflict between the three generations :
‘There is no original or primary gender a drag imitates, but gender is a kind of imitation for which there is no original.’
—Judith Butler
Dattani  in this play, puts a few unlikely questions about the sexual construct that a man is or the very constituents of a man’s identity-in terms of sexuality, as the head of the family and as an artist. The play deals with the self and the significance of the other, through the frameworks of gender and gender roles-the prostitute as a dancer and an artist; the man as a dancer; the guru who sports long hair and has an effeminate walk are categories that the older generation, fed on its perception of the self cannot come to terms with. Dattani uses Traditional Dance as a medium that creates conflict in the play within the minds of the other characters. As the play goes forward and the actions take place; Dance takes the center stage and pushes the characters outside. Traditional Dance, in the play, is not only a form or a tool that enables the writer to tell his story but it creates its own psyche that guides or misguides the actors on the stage.
Dance is a very significant factor in this play that means different things to different characters. Jairaj and Ratna wants to develop their career as dancers and for them Dance is not only a form of art but also their life and soul. It is not only their passion but also a tool that will help them to gain desired success.  The stereotypes of gender roles are set against the idea of the artist in search of creativity within the restrictive structure of the world that he is forced to inhabit. Jairaj with his obsession for dance dismantles these stereotypes. This is the twist that the playwright gives to the stereotypes associated with ‘gender’ issues that view solely women at the receiving end of the oppressive power structures of patriarchal society. The play removes this notion and explores the nature of the tyranny that even men might be subject to within such structures. Jairaj and Ratna live within such a structure: the domain of the patriarch Amritlal, Jairaj’s father. 

Dance for him is the profession of a prostitute, improper for his daughter-in-law and absolutely unimaginable for his son. He forbids Ratna from visiting the old devdasi who teaches her the intricacies of bharatnatyam; he cannot tolerate the sounds of the dancing bells that ring through their practice sessions; is astounded at the long-haired guru with an effeminate walk and cannot, most of all tolerate the idea of his son –a man- becoming a professional dancer. The underlying fear is surely, that dance would make him effeminate so that the suggestion of homosexuality hovers near, though never explicitly mentioned. And hence Amritlal must oppose, tooth and nail, Jairaj’s passion for dance. This clash brings about the play of property and money in deciding and manipulating the construction of identities that would conform, but the result is tragic. He makes a pact with Ratna. He will permit her career in dance only if she helps him pull Jairaj out of his obsession and make him a ‘manly’ man. The two can then enjoy the security of his riches (Chaudhuri 67-68).

In this play, as a reader, one may find that the play poses some delicate questions among which one surely is of MALE idea.  Personally for Jairaj, Dance is a form or a means to express emotions and stands as the tool of defiance, revolt, negation of a particular way of life that was decided by his father, Amritlal. He starts dancing as a hobby or rather a fancy that his father thought would perish after a period of time but it does not happen that way. Jairaj continues his practice of traditional dancing in spite of all the opposition from his father and overtly presents himself as a rebel. He becomes more headstrong because of the support of his wife, Ratna who also was interested in traditional form of dancing. The reason behind Amritlal’s opposition suggests that his mind was not ready to accept his son as a Bharatnatyam Dancer. This is more clear in AMritlal’s view of dance.

Amritlal : “ A woman in aman’s world may be considered as progressive. But a man in a woman’s world is pathetic”

Amritlal, though being called as progressive fails to accept dance as a form of art for men. His ideas though were meant to be liberated were actually devoid of progressive ideas. His ideas of freedom and independence was that related to the nation whereas Jairaj’s ideas of progressiveness and independence is way different from that of Amritlal’s. Their conflict in ideas is seen in their argument on progress and freedom.

Jairaj : “Didn’t you have any obsessions?”
Amritlal : “ If you mean my involvement in fighting for your freedom, yes, it was an obsession.”
Jairaj : “You had yours. Now allow me to have mine.”

Asha Kuthari Chaudhuri writes, “Dance like a Man is a play that deals with one of Dattani’s pet concerns – gender – through one of his principal passions, dance.” (p. 67)

              In the society everyone wants the Male to earn that much so that the house would run properly but Amritlal knew that dance would not help Jairaj to earn enough money and that would make him unworthy in the eyes of his wife Ratna. For Amritlal, dance was good as far as it remains a hobby but it was not proper to be taken as a profession. And we should not forget that traditional dance, especially for Male was not considered a respectable profession in the olden days in India. Asha Kuthari Chaudhuri says,

“The underlying fear is obviously that dance would make him ‘womanly’ – an effeminate man – the suggestion of homosexuality hovers near, although never explicitly mentioned.” (p. 68)

In the play Maleness of Jairaj was not that much a question of Body than that of mentality. Researcher found that for Ratna Maleness might have meant one’s independent decision making power, doing the work that one liked, living on one’s own conditions, standing on one’s own feet without any support and some other that Jairaj lacked. Interestingly even Jairaj was trying to prove himself an able MALE to Ratna. When Ratna was worried about finding a mridangam player for her daughter he says,
“Will finding a musician make me a man?

            Dance, for Ratna, serves as an undying passion that drives her character throughout all the actions of the drama. Behind all her moves in the drama, Dance was the main factor. Her character has a negative shade and that makes her different than others. She involves herself in a relationship with Jairaj and that was a clear self-centered decision on her part. No love or attachment with Jairaj was there on the outset of the relationship. Her overconfidence and faith in her own talent was so much that she hesitated not even once to destroy Jairaj’s career as a dancer joining hands with her father-in-law, Amritlal. She single-mindedly follows her heart overpowered by mind; and tries to be famous using Dance as a medium. Traditional Dance stands as a thing that will help her in earning fame and money along with respect in the world of dancers.
            For Ratna Dance was a medium to gain popularity and status and for that she married Jairaj who would never stop her from dancing. Ratna’s selfish inner desire was so powerful that she cold-bloodedly plays with the emotions of Jairaj by misguiding him constantly. In the guise of a true life companion she deceives her husband and tries to curb his potential as a dancer. In order to gain personal aims she sacrifices Jairaj’s abilities. Ratna not only spoils Jairaj’s life but tries to mould her daughter Lata’s life also by making her a traditional dancer. In spite of being a Male member of the family Jairaj never tries to command his authority over Ratna and instead, she, very deliberately plays with his emotions. When Jairaj returned to his father’s house, Ratna disliked it and she says in the play ones,
“You! You are nothing but a spineless boy who couldn’t leave his father’s house for more than forty-eight hours.”
            Lata, her daughter, was used by her to fulfill her inner suppressed desires to earn fame and money nationwide and abroad. Unknowingly Lata falls in the whirlpool created by Ratna and becomes the object only. Ratna’s endeavors seem very ambitious and manipulative. She was ready to establish her daughter’s career on the right track right from the very beginning and for that she schemes, manipulates and uses all her contacts and links. It is very clear that Ratna saw her own self in her daughter Lata and therefore acted so violently to create a firm, concrete base for her. It is this quality that makes her different from others. For her Traditional Dance was important but it never became a wild passion at any point of time. The desire to take dance, as a hobby was very clear in her mind as she tells Vishwas,

“When I was a little girl, I used to stand near the door and watch mummy and daddy practice. It was magic for me. I knew then what I wanted to be.”
            She takes dance as a pure art form and does not link it to any gender. She wanted to pursue dance but her desire was not blended with any passion or force. For her, marrying Vishwas was also important and she wouldn’t sacrifice her love for the dance. Her balanced mind makes her likable and different from her parents. Actually she is away from the circle in which her parents were trapped which was too vicious to believe. She dances and continues to do so because it is a hobby for her and not a way that leads to the path of success. There is no malice, over ambition or misled want in her that keeps her interest in dance. Considering this aspects reader can conclude that Lata stands in stark contrast with other characters.

What therefore starts as a portrayal of staunch patriarchy in most of his plays opens up new domains of study, where Dattani subverts the norms to present the alternate views. Thus, what emerges is a new definition of masculinity not merely as an antonym of feminity but paving a way for men to break their “alpha roars” and do what they would perhaps like to. As Butler says, it is possible to “do” these cultural constructions of sexuality. And as for the females, they can opt for a path of their own too, breaking their silence and the performative roles that they have always played, knowingly or unknowingly, willingly or unwillingly (Mallick, par.33).

Conclusion :
Dance Like a Man is a play that does not present the character as pure White or Black but it shows their different shades in all possibilities. The play poses fundamental questions and presents the actors with the best of their talents. It demands the answer whether the world is progressive in real sense or we are still in search of that utopian era where no dance form is actually attached to any gender of the dancer but considered as a pure form of Art.
Works Cited :

1.                  Mallick,Saptarshi “What a Man! Is he a man!” The Constructs of the Patriarchs and the Deviants: Re-framing Mahesh Dattani’s Where There is a Will and Dance Like a Man Impressions.vol.v issue II. July2011.2Jan2012  
2.                  Chaudhuri, Asha Kumari. Contemporary Indian Writers in English – Mahesh Dattani An Introduction. Delhi: Foundation Books, 2005.
3.                  Dattani, Mahesh. Collected Plays. New Delhi: Penguin Books, 2000.
4.                  Butler, Judith. Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity. Linda J.Nicholson.New York: Routledge,1990.

The mass media and commercials stereotype Gender

Aparna T.V
I-MA English

Discuss how the mass media and commercials stereotype gender
Introduction :
Mass media play a significant role in the modern world, by broadcasting information information and  entertain the vast audiences. Media consist of press, television, radio, books and the Internet. The latter is now the most developing medium, however, TV also has a wide field of influence. By creating a certain type of message, media can manipulate people’s attitude and opinions. Media in general, are often said to be the reflection of the society. Or at least , what majority of people in India consciously or unconsciously believe and cater to. While it’s arguable whether the media truly reflect the society or not, there’s no doubt that media have a big sociocultural influence on the society.
The way women are portrayed in media these days is hardly different than those before a decade or a few. Women were portrayed as an ideal homemaker in movies or were newsreaders. Media of recent times have hardly shown an ‘ideal woman’. Women are used as commodities and are ‘objectifies’ to please the male gaze in advertisements and most medias which includes movies as well. The problem begins with the stereotyping women as an object of attraction, thereby, stereotyping. In addition to this gender roles play a major role in media where, women are allotted to certain concepts to attract the male audience.

Gender in mass media

                  In order to create a medium which is universal, understandable and acceptable for numerous and diverse recipients, senders very often use stereotypes, which fill the social life and evoke certain associations. In the case of gender roles, the societies have established the hegemony of males by institutionalizing of male dominance over women. Men have been perceived as the head of the household and women were mainly housewives. Nowadays the differences between male and female roles are smaller, however mass media still perpetuates traditional gender stereotypes. Moreover, due to their great influence on people’s attitudes, they can depict certain social groups in negative and unrealistic manner. They can be a very useful tool for those remaining power. By manipulating the message, media can create a certain image of reality, which is consistent with the policy of the dominant group. As a result, the reflection of a real world is incomplete and distorted. Although people are aware of the unequal representation of certain social groups in mass media, it is hard to remain objective and insensitive to its influence.

Gender Stereotyping and Gender roles in media :

A division of gender roles is deeply rooted in the social archetypes. In the past, the patriarchy was a dominant family model. Through the ages men have been considered to be financial providers, career-focused, assertive and independent, whereas women have been shown as low-position workers, loving wives and mothers, responsible for raising children and doing housework. Nowadays a family model is based rather on a partnership than on patriarchy and women have more rights and possibilities on the labor market. Feminist environment had a significant impact on the change in this situation. Women’s liberation movement fought for the rights of women and for redefining traditional gender roles. They claimed, that there should be no distinction between typical masculine and feminine occupations, and that traits of character should not be ascribed once and for all to one gender. Although females and males are still not equal, the differences between gender are not so vast anymore. Nevertheless, many social institutions, such as mass media, still use gender stereotypes, basing on the assumption, that they are well known to everyone and help the receivers to understand the content of the message.

Stereotyping commercials

              Commercials are the vast source of gender stereotyping, because they are adapted to the specific, either male or female target, and are “the reflection of the recipient”. The aim of the modern commercial is not only the satisfaction of needs but also their creation. Women are more often presented in commercials, because they are seen as responsible for making everyday purchases. Men generally advertise cars, cigarettes, business products or investments, whereas  women are shown rather in the commercials with cosmetics
and domestic products. They are also more likely portrayed in the home environment, unlike men, who are shown outdoors. Another important distinction is the face-ism phenomenon in  the commercials, which consists in showing the entire figure in case of women and close-up shots in case of men (Matthews, J. L. 2007). The first method lowers the receiver’s estimation of the intelligence of the person on the photo. The second one more often evokes positive associations.
According to Steve Craig’s research (1997), women can be presented in commercials in several variants. The first one is the most popular: a housewife obsessed by a steam on a new tablecloth or a woman whose main problem is lack of ideas for dinner. The other examples are less traditional, however, they are still very stereotypical. One can distinguish commercials with female vamps – sexy seductresses, the objects of desire of every man. They mostly advertise cosmetics, but they also appear in the commercials directed to men. When a beautiful woman accepts and praises the male cosmetics, it is treated by men as a guarantee of its quality. Another type is a woman, whose major concern is to preserve her beauty. Hence, she presents a healthy life style, is physically active, uses a wide range of body and facial cosmetics. However, one can observe mainly the presence of very thin actresses in this type of commercials, which can lead to the assumption, that only thin women can be beautiful and healthy. As a result, many female receivers fall into the obsession with their weight, which sometimes can have negative effects.
Male stereotypes are also various. The first model is “a real man”, athletic, successful, professional, seducer with a beautiful woman by his side. He also has a branded car and a smartphone. The other type is less popular and presents men devoted to their families who can save enough time for them. Men are very rarely presented during housecleaning. And if they are, it is rather a satirical image – e.g. in the Mr. Muscle commercial – or they appear as the experts and they advise women, for instance, how to do laundry properly. Advertising specialists also use the stereotype of male friendship, which can be called “buddy narratives”; men are presented as acting together, for instance by going to a football match or to the pub. They share the same interests and opinions, and they enjoy spending time together by doing something extremely interesting and adventurous . (Craig, S., 1997   )
More and more commercials are directed to children. They  indicate “the proper place” in the society for girls and boys. Girls are shown as babysitters nursing dolls or cleaning house with a pink cleaning kit, whereas boys do sports or play computer games (ibid).
If men and women appear in the commercials together, they are mainly presented as a couple or marriage. A sexual subtext is also often used in this case, even if the advertised product has nothing in common with the erotic sphere. In the situation of competition, women appear to be weaker than men.

Breaking gender stereotypes

In spite of significant presence of the stereotypes in commercials, advertising specialists more and more often use non-schematic ideas of the promotion of products and services. Women are presented as liberated, strong and independent of social expectations and men are shown while washing or cleaning.
The most popular, non-stereotypical commercial is Dove campaign aimed at women at every age and with different kinds of figures. It emphasizes natural beauty instead of perfect shapes. The female viewers prefer to watch women, with whom they can identify, thus the campaign proved to be a great success.Male roles in advertising are redefined as well – British commercial of a cleanser called Ajax presents handsome men cleaning kitchen with this product; in the other example a man is striping for his girlfriend and then throws his clothes in the washing machine called Ariston. This situation is opposite to the traditional scheme, in which a girl is a seductress and a man is a viewer.

Conclusion :
The main aim of mass media is to be universal and suitable for everyone, in order to gather the largest possible audience. Thus television, responsible for providing the central social discourse, is supposed to be “a mirror of the society”. However, because of stereotypical way of explaining the reality, some groups are underrepresented or ignored, and therefore the society image is incomplete.  Although people are aware of the dangers posed by generalization, they tend to be conformists and would rather submit to the dominant patterns than oppose them and risk a negative reception of such behavior from the others.

Works Cited :
Books :
1. Craig, S., 1997    Men, Masculinity and the Media. California: Sage Publications, Inc.
2. Matthews, J. L., 2007    Hidden sexism: Facial prominence and its connections to gender and occupational status in popular print media. Sex Roles: A Journal of Research, 57, 515-525.
Websites :
1. Lukas, A. Scott, 2002    The Gender Ads Project. South Lake Tahoe, California. http://www.genderads.com, Accessed on: 2nd April 2014
2. Pryor, Debra; Knupfer, Nancy Nelson, 1997    Gender Stereotypes and Selling Techniques in Television Advertising: Effects on Society.http://www.eric.ed.gov/ERICDocs/data/ericdocs2sql/content_storage_01/0000019b/80/16/c4/8c.pdf, Accessed on: 2nd April 2014


Aparna T.V
II-MA English Theme of Colonialism in ‘Things Fall Apart’ Introduction :                  Poet and novelist Chinua Achebe was one of the most important Africanwriters. He was also considered by many to be one of the most original literary artists writing in English during his lifetime. He is best known for his novel Things Fall Apart (1958). Born Albert Chinualumogo Achebe, Chinua Achebe was raised by Christian evangelical parents in the large village Ogidi, in Igboland, Eastern Nigeria. He received an early education in English, but grew up surrounded by a complex fusion of Igbo traditions and colonial legacy. He studied literature and medicine at the University of Ibadan; after graduating, he went to work for the Nigerian Broadcasting Company in Lagos and later studied at the British Broadcasting Corporation staff school in London.                    During this time, Achebe was developing work as a writer. Starting in the 1950s, he was central to a new Nigerian literary movement that drew on the oral traditions of Nigeria's indigenous tribes. Although Achebe wrote in English, he attempted to incorporate Igbo vocabulary and narratives. Things Fall Apart (1958) was his first novel, and remains his best-known work. It has been translated into at least forty-five languages, and has sold eight million copies worldwide. Chinua Achebe’s  “African Trilogy” :     captures a society caught between its traditional roots and the demands of a rapidly changing world.                    A titled Ibo chieftain himself, Achebe's novels focus on the traditions of Igbo society, the effect of Christian influences, and the clash of Western and traditional African values during and after the colonial era. His style relies heavily on the Ibo oral tradition, and combines straightforward narration with representations of folk stories, proverbs, and oratory. He also published a number of short stories, children's books, and essay collections. From 2009 until his death, he served as a professor at Brown University  in the United States.
 Introduction to Colonialism :                         Colonialism as defined by Oxford English Dictionary  refers to “the policy or practice of acquiring full or partial political control over another country, occupying it with settlers, and exploiting it economically”. It is the establishment, exploitation, maintenance, acquisition, and expansion of colonies in one territory by people from another territory. It is a set of unequal relationships between the colonial power and the colony and often between the colonists and the indigenous population. In his preface to Jürgen Osterhammel's Colonialism: A Theoretical Overview, Roger Tignor says, "For Osterhammel, the essence of colonialism is the existence of colonies, which are by definition governed differently from other territories such as protectorates or informal spheres of influence." In the book, Osterhammel asks, "How can 'colonialism' be defined independently from 'colony?'  He settles on a definition:Colonialism is a relationship between an indigenous (or forcibly imported) majority and a minority of foreign invaders. The fundamental decisions affecting the lives of the colonized people are made and implemented by the colonial rulers in pursuit of interests that are often defined in a distant metropolis. Rejecting cultural compromises with the colonized population,the colonizers are convinced of their own superiority and their ordained mandate to rule”                  The European colonial period was the era from the 16th century to the mid-20th century when several European powers (particularly, but not exclusively, Portugal,SpainBritain, the NetherlandsRussiaItaly and France) established colonies in AsiaAfrica, and the Americas. Colonialism was always portrayed in the colonizing country  as bringing benefits for the colony. They included: increased standard of living, benefits of Christianity, improved health and education, establishing law and order, etc. The sincerity with which and the extent to which these benefits were provided are often at the very least questionable. Also, many now-independent colonies have not yet recovered from the psychological trauma of colonialism. Types of Colonialism : Historians often distinguish between two overlapping forms of colonialism:Settler colonialism involves large-scale immigration, often motivated by religious, political, or economic reasons as seen in America.Exploitation colonialism involves fewer colonists and focuses on access to resources for export. This category includes trading posts as well as larger colonies where colonists would constitute much of the political and economic administration, but would rely on indigenous resources for labour and material. This type of colonialism was practiced in Africa by the European colonial powers.
                            Towards the end of the nineteenth century most European states migrated to Africa and other parts of the world where they established colonies. Nigeria was amongst other African nations that received visitors who were on a colonising mission; introducing their religion and culture that is later imposed on their culture.
                                 The Europeans held a Eurocentric view of the world; firmly believing European culture to be superior. Eurocentrism therefore perceives Europe as the core of civilisation and of humanity. Eurocentrism had racist tendencies which granted an inferior status to the non-whites. Fundamental to the Age of Imperialism was the “scramble for Africa” period of the 1880s to the 1890s. The Europeans became hungry for Africa's natural resources, resulting in their arrival into Africa as well as their hostile takeover of the land. During this period many European countries set colonies in Africa. One of the reasons that the Europeans had for colonising Africa was their claim to civilise the primitive African minds as a humanitarian act. Soon African states were dominated by European power be it economic, political or social.
  Things Fall Apart-  An Introduction :                      The novel ‘Things Fall Apart’  is centered on the life of the protagonist of the novel, Okonkwo. As the novel develops Okonkwo accidentally kills a man and he and his family are exiled from his village Umuofia. During his exile white missionaries arrive in Umuofia and change the village. When Okonkwo returns to his village he sees the major transformations that Umuofia has undergone during his exile.
                   Unhappy with the change, Okonkwo and other villagers come together to drive the white missionaries out of their land. Their efforts are in vain as the missionaries send their messengers to abort the meeting. Okonkwo kills one of the messengers and in shock at his actions the villagers let the other messengers escape. The messengers report back to the missionaries and they take off to bring Okonkwo to justice only to find him dead.               Achebe’s primary purpose of writing the novel is because he wants to educate his readers about the value of his culture as an African. Things Fall Apart provides readers with an insight of Igbo society right before the white missionaries’ invasion on their land. The invasion of the colonising force threatens to change almost every aspect of Igbo society; from religion, traditional gender roles and relations, family structure to trade.                 Before Achebe wrote Things Fall Apart, all the novels that had been written about Africa and Africans were written by Europeans. Mostly, the European writings described Africans as uncivilised and uneducated persons. The Europeans, seeing that they thought of themselves as more advanced than Africans, were determined to help Africans shift from the old era into the modern era of civilisation and education.
                    Heart of Darkness, for instance, by Joseph Conrad was one of the most read novels around the time of its publication in 1899. Conrad described Africa as a “wild, ‘dark’, and uncivilised continent” (Sickels 1). Following Conrad’s novel in 1952 was Mister Johnson, a novel by Joyce Cary. Like Heart of Darkness, Mister Johnson was also quite a popular read its reviews suggest it was a more popular read than Heart of Darkness. According to Sickels, the novel’s protagonist Mr Johnson generally as a “childish, semi-educated African who reinforces colonialist stereotypes about Africa”
                     It is through the insights of Things Fall Apart that the world became more appreciative of Africa and its people and at the same time the truth surrounding the stereotypical ideas that once existed about Africa began to appear in a much clearer light.  Achebe brilliantly sets universal tales of personal and moral struggle in the context of the tragic drama of colonization.  It  depicts the African culture, their superstitions and religious rites through the Igbo society. This novel is a response to as well as a record of the traumatic consequences of the western capitalist colonialism on the traditional values and institutes of the African people.
                      Things Fall Apart was followed by a sequel, No Longer at Ease(1960), originally written as the second part of a larger work along with ‘Arrow of God(1964). Achebe  states that his two later  novels, ‘A Man of the People’  (1966) and  ‘Anthills of the Savannah (1987), while not featuring Okonkwo's descendants, are spiritual successors to the previous novels in chronicling African history.   Colonialism in ‘Things Fall Apart’ :      “ART  is man’s constant effort to create for himself a different order of reality from that which is given to him.”                                                                                                               - Chinua Achebe
                When we study the history of Asian and African countries, the colonial experience plays  an important role in the better understanding of their history, culture and religion.  Chinua Achebe’s  “African Trilogy” :  Things Fall Apart, No Longer at Ease, Arrow of God   captures a society caught between its traditional roots and the demands of a rapidly changing world.
                 In the masterful novels, Achebe brilliantly sets universal tales of personal and moral struggle in the context of the tragic drama of colonization.  It  depicts the African culture, their superstitions and religious rites through the Igbo society. This novel is a response to as well as a record of the traumatic consequences of the western capitalist colonialism on the traditional values and institutes of the African people.
                        For the countries in Asia, Africa and South America, the experience of colonialism plays an important role in the process of understanding their history. When we see this perception in the literature of these countries, we study it as postcolonial literature.  Bill Ashcroft, Gareth Griffiths and Helen Tiffin rightly maintain that though historically “post-colonial” implies “after colonization,” in literature, it signifies “all the experience affected by the colonial process from the beginning of the colonization to the present day. Postcolonial studies critically analyze the relationship between the colonizer and the colonized, which is based on basically two things – knowledge and power.”                           
                           The theme of Colonialism is predominantly visible in the novel. As Said quotes Gramsci’s ideas of Civil and Political society in his work ‘Orientalism’ ,  Colonialism in the novel works at two levels. The Civil society which includes ‘schools, families, and unions’ , the Political society includes ‘ state institutions        ( the army, the police, the central bureaucracy) whose role in the polity is direct domination’  Said says that Culture operates under the civil society, where, the influence is through what Gramsci calls as ‘Consent’. In order to examine the two levels of colonialism, it is necessary to look into the pre-colonial Igbo society that Achebe portrays in his novel which was  rich and serene.
 “Turning and turning in the widening gyreThe falcon cannot hear the falconer;Things fall apart; the center cannot hold; Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world.”“He had already chosen the title of the book, after much thought: The Pacification of the Primitive Tribes of the Lower Niger.” (Achebe; Chapter 25 pg 187)                                     It may be seen that European colonialism is something which is vile as it has totally destroyed the culture and traditions of a group of people which in turn destroyed their identity. However, in how Okonkwo and his tribesmen practice their tradition, it can be seen that colonialism also has good effects since it has stripped the rather inhumane and illogical practices of the people such as how they exalt cultural violence. This type of violence can be seen in certain practices they had like “ritual sacrifices, punishment for crimes, and other kinds     of communal sanctioned violence” which is normal and accepted by the clan but is not entirely humane to the missionaries (Sickles,169). Of all the positive effects of colonialism as appearing in the novel and more than the economic progress it brings, it is the lessening of ignorance of the clan and the opening of the avenue for new knowledge and erasure of such violent cultural practices which is more poignant and more impacting.
Conclusion :                                   Achebe uses this opening stanza of William Butler Yeats’s poem “The Second Coming,” from which the title of the novel is taken, as an epigraph to the novel. In invoking these lines, Achebe hints at the chaos that arises when a system collapses. That “the center cannot hold” is an ironic reference to both the imminent collapse of the African tribal system, threatened by the rise of imperialist bureaucracies, and the imminent disintegration of the British Empire. Achebe, writing in 1959, had the benefit of retrospection in depicting Nigerian society and British colonialism in the 1890s.                                 
                          From the onset of the novel Achebe makes readers aware of the traditions, customs , beliefs and superstitions  of Igbo society.  Manliness is given importance throughout the novel showing how the Igbo natives view the idea of manliness.  The novel begins with the description of Okonkwo’s fame who rose to be a famous wrestler and an important member in the village of Umoufia. “That was many years ago, twenty years or more, and during this time Okokwo’s fame had grown lik a bush-fire in the harmattan.”   (Achebe ; Chapter 1 pg 3)
                              They also depend on language to define their social rank in their society. Okonkwo, for instance, when being compared to his father Unoka is considered as a wealthy man and not only because he has married a lot of women or his household produces many yams but because of his strength that helped him defeat one of the strongest wrestlers in the village. On the other hand, Unoka was a drunkard who had only one wife, not many yams and had no titles to his name by the time of his death. The village had named him agbala a term Igbo use to refer to “women as well as to men who have not taken a title”  consequently a man who deserves no respect from society because he is not “wealthy”. Title also plays a major role in giving an individual fame and status in Igbo society. “When Unoka died he had taken no title at all and he was heavily in debt”  In the household, the man was of supreme importance. The fame of a man depends on how many wives he has. In Okonkwo’s case , he was consider as a person of supreme power as he had acquired fame , titles and had married 3 wives and live with a family of 11 children Okonkwo ruled his household with a heavy hand. His wives, especially the youngest, lived in perpetual fear of his fiery temper, and so did his little children” (Achebe ;Chapter 2 pg12)
  Achebe also makes the readers aware of the proverbs and the art of conversation in Ibo society. “Among the Ibo the art of conversation is regarded very highly,  and proverbs are the palm oil with which words are eaten “  (Achebe ; Chapter 1, pg 6) When Okoye pays Unoka a visit to ask him to settle his debt, and although Unoka is late with the payment, Okoye does not lash out at Unoka about his overdue debt. Rather, the neighbours share a kola nut, give thanks unto the ancestors and then go on to discuss the debt by speaking in proverbs . This maintains good relations between the two neighbours even though they are discussing such an issue that usually causes conflicts between people.
 “As he broke the kola, Unoka prayed to their ancestors for life and health, and for protection against their enemies.”  (Achebe ; chapter 1 pg 6)                                 Igbo life in the 1800`s was very much steeped in their mythology. The natives thought that every sign and event had a reason and purpose hence; their superstitions were very real to them. All their practices dated back to their forefathers and were meant to keep harmony with Mother Nature. Thus, they had a God for every different natural phenomenon that occurred. They worshipped things such as trees, pieces of wood, hills and caves. For every symbolic God there was a being in the clan that represented it. Ezeani   the Priestess of the Goddess of the Earth, represented the Goddess of Earth, “Ani the source of all fertility, ultimate judge of moral conduct who was in close communionwith departed fathers” (p 26). Besides, there was the Oracle of the Hills and the caves  in which the oracle was called Agbala , the woman who then got possessed by the spirit when the clan sought knowledge from the God through her. The people would usually listen to everything that the oracle said because they thought it wise.
 The Oracle was called Agbala, and people came from far and near to consult it” (Achebe ; Chapter 3 pg 15 )
 The people of the Ibo village had many strong superstitions they believed in, such as “Don't whistle at night for fear of evil spirits” … (Achebe; Chapter 2, pg 9) They were scared of night time except on moonlit nights as they thought it was when the evil spirits came out. Even the bravest people were held in terror of the dark. They even warned the children not to whistle at night because they feared the evil spirits would come out and the dangerous animals would grow even more sinister when dark. This is taken so such a serious extent that villagers would not even call a snake by its name at night because they thought it would hear, so it was called a string at night time. What the Ibo believed about darkness and snakes revealed the Igbo attitude toward the world(Chapter 2).
 “ Darkness held a vague terror for these people, even the bravest among them. Children were warned not to whistle at night for fear of evil spirits”  ( Achebe ; Chapter 2 pg 10). Another strong superstition they hold on to was the festival of The Week of Peace  which took place the week before the Igbo started to plant their yam crops. It was called this way because they believed that no violence should be spread around. However, during this week
 “ And that was the year Okonkwo broke the peace, and was punished, as was the custom, by Ezeani, the priest of the earth goddess” (Achebe ;Chapter 4 pg 26 )                           Okonkwo commits a great sin by beating his wife, “it is believed that evil will fall upon the whole clan, so he must repent" (pg. 29)Also, no work would be done during that week. All people did was to talk to their neighbours and drank palm-wine to relax. By doing so, they ensured good luck for a good crop season. However, if someone were to break the rule of the Week of Peace, then there would come a bad crop season, and most of the crops would die.(Chapter4). Here we can observe how important the power of the Gods is to the clan. The  main superstition they had was the belief in the silk-cotton tree as home to the good spirits of children waiting to be born. The young women who wanted to have children would just go under the tree. In addition, they believed that children had up until the age of six to decide if they wanted to live or not. If they decided to be a devilish child, then it would usually die at the age of six. (Chapter 6)
  Further instances of superstition can be traced to the “Personal Chi” the Igbo tribe believed in.“Chi” could be a personal fragment of the Supreme Being, unique for each individual. It determined much of a person's success and character.
  "When a man says yes his chi says yes also" (Achebe ; Chapter 4, pg 25).   But at the same time a man does not challenge his chi ."The evil you have done can ruin the whole clan. The Earth Goddess whom you have insulted may refuse to give us her increase, and we shall all perish" (Achebe; Chapter 4, pg 28).
 Ezeani said this to Okonkwo in response to his challenge against his chi. Through the story it is known that Okonkwo`s desperate desire to succeed his chi, does not let him go anyfurther than failure, destruction and death therefore, “Chi” is simultaneouslya destiny and an internal commitment which cannot be denied. Unlike any good religion, the Igbo religion encompasses some unaccepted practices that stunted the development of their village.
                    This was due to the Igbo fear of what they did not understand medicine, for instance.The belief in Ogbanje, which were wicked children who usually died at an early age, and who then re-entered their mother's womb to be born again. They believed that it was the evil spirit of the same child that just came in the form of many different infants. Then, there wasiyi-uwa which was a special kind of stone which formed the link between an ogbanje and the spirit world. If the child's iyi-uwa were found and destroyed, then it would not die. They believed that the ogbanjes would bury their iyi-uwa  in order for them to die and then return to their mother again in order to torment her. (Chapter 9)In addition, Umuofia villagers were overzealous in their practice of killing new-born twins and dumping them into the evil forest, where their spirits would roam forever. For the Igbo people, having twins was considered as "against nature and inherently evil.” Also, members of the tribe that died from certain diseases were looked as "un-clean” thus, they were not buried but rather dumped into the forest as well, as if their previous life had had no value at all.          
             It is seen that Achebe timelessly uses proverbs in these novels both to preserve Ibo culture and language as well as to show their value not only to him, but to the entire Ibo community.  Proverbs like  “When the moon is shining the cripple becomes hungry for a walk” (Achebe; Chapter 2, pg 10) , “A toad does not run in the daytime for nothing” (Achebe; Chapter 3, pg 19 ) , “An old woman is always uneasy when dry bones are mentioned in a proverb” (Achebe; Chapter 2 pg 19)   shows the beliefs of the Ibo people and the richness of values that existed in the society.                          As the novel progressed, the arrival of colonisers is seen through the image of Locusts in chapter 7, which descends in the village ,causing a devastating effect on the  crops.
 “Locusts are descending” was joyfully chanted everywhere, and men, women and children left their work or their play and ran into open to see the unfamiliar sight.” ( Achebe; Chapter 7 pg 50). This foreshadows the arrival of the colonisers who like the locusts are “the harbingers sent to survey the land”.  This establishes the theme of colonization. As the chapter moves on, it is seen that the Locusts “settles on every tree and on every blade of grass” breaking away the “Mighty tree branches”. The chapter is highly symbolic as it foresees the destruction brought about by the colonisers like the locusts.
                        The conversation between Okonkwo and Obierika  brings forth the first signs of  colonization come to Abame when the first white man appears. The elders of village consulted the Oracle and were told that the whiteman would soon be followed by others like him that would destroy their way of life. So the villagers killed the white man but destruction soon followed when other white men massacred the people of the village for killing the white man.
 Have you heard,” asked Obierika, “that Abame is no more?”
 “During the last planting season a white man had appeared in their clan….. The elders consulted their Oracle and it told them that the strange man would break their clan and spread destruction among them”   (Achebe; Chapter 15 pg 125)
 It is seen that the destruction was foreseen through the massacre of the people of Abame and through the words of the Oracle. “They were locusts, it said, and that first man was their harbinger sent to explore the terrain. And so they killed him”   (Achebe ;Chapter 7, pg 125) The symbol of the locuts can be compared with the tropical grasshoppers in chapter 7 which caused destruction. Likewise these colonists brought destruction along with them. The advent of colonization was seen through the process of instilling religion in chapter 16, by which they can change the fundamental beliefs of the tribe, then they can easily control the natives.
 “The arrival of the missionaries had caused a considerable stir in the village of Mbanta.”  The introduction of the European missionaries is not presented as a tragic event—it even contains some comical elements. The villagers, for example, mock the interpreter’s dialect. They neither perceive the missionaries as a threat nor react violently like the village of Abame, even though the missionaries call their gods “false” outright. And the missionaries do not forcibly thrust Christianity on the villagers.Considering the emphasis that the Igbo place on careful thought before violent action, Okonkwo’s belief that the people of Abame should have armed themselves and killed the white men reflects a rash, violent nature that seems to contradict with fundamental Igbo values. Throughout Things Fall ApartIgbo customs and social institutions emphasize the wisdom of seeking a peaceful solution to conflict before a violent solution. Uchendu voices this social value when he states that the killing of the first white man was foolish, for the villagers of Abame did not even know what the man’s intentions were. It is also seen that Nwoye, Okonkwo’s first son was spotted among the missionaries in Umoufia by Oberika.  Nwoye can be interpreted as the symbol for all disillusioned minds of the natives who are drawn between the nativity and Christianity.
 “It was not the Trinity that captivated him. He did not understand it. It was the poetry of the new religion, something felt in the marrow” (Achebe ;Chapter 16 pg 134) Achebe shows how the Cultural aspects such as hymns and songs also contributed significantly in the process of colonization.
Nwoye’s callow mind was greatly puzzled” ( Achebe; Chapter 16 pg 134)
                       With the introduction of a foreign element, which is the religion, it began to disrupt the social structure of the society. When the white men wanted a piece of land to build their shrine, a piece of land from the Evil Forest was given by the leaders of Mbanta expecting them to die in four days. When none of them died, the natives believed that the white men had the power to talk to the evil and hence they were impressed by the power of their religion. This lead to the conversion of Nneka, the first woman from the clan to be a part of the converts. It is also known that Nneka bore twins in all her four pregnancies was treated as an outcaste by the clan. In order to save her child, she joins the new religion. It is seen that certain  superstitious beliefs of the Ibo society like the killing of twins and improper burial for the diseased were harsher to accept and hence many efulefu – the unworthy accepted the paths of Christianity.
                             Initially, the church and the clan remain segregated from one another in Mbanta. The people of the village believe that eventually the Christians will weaken and die, especially since they live in the dreaded forest, where they even rescue twins abandoned in the woods. The outcasts of Mbanta, the osu, live in a special section of the village and are forbidden to marry a free person or cut their hair. They are to be buried in the Evil Forest when they die. When the osu see that the church welcomes twins into their congregation, they thought that they may also be welcomed. Most of the  osu become Christians, and the outcasts become the most dedicated members of the congregation. Okonkwo's views toward the Christians and his desire for a violent solution begin to separate him from the rest of his new Mbanta clan — which he thinks is a womanly clan. He feels that simply excluding the Christians from several public places is a weak solution.  Religion was used as a tool that divided and conquered the natives. Government was also brought by the colonisers alongside the school and religion.  “ But stories were already gaining ground that the white man had not only brought a religion but also a government” (Achebe; Chapter 18 pg 142)              With the establishment of a strong base in Africa, colonization began to take over the land, culture and tradition of the Ibo people.
 “Does the white man understand our custom about land?” “How can he when he does not even speak our tongue? But he says that our customs are bad; and our own brothers who have taken up his religion also say that our customs are bad. How do you think we can fight when our own brothers have turned against us? The white man is very clever. He came quietly and peaceably with his religion. We were amused at his foolishness and allowed him to stay. Now he has won our brothers, and our clan can no longer act like one. He has put a knife on the things that held us together and we have fallen apart.”This exchange occurs at the end of Chapter 20 during the conversation between Obierika and Okonkwo. In the discussion, which centers on various events that have come to pass since the arrival of the colonialists, Obierika seems to voice Achebe’s own thoughts on colonialism. Upset by the fact that the white men have come and completely disregarded the Igbo sense of justice, Obierika points out the impossibility of the colonialists understanding anything about the Umuofians without speaking their language. He points out the ludicrousness of denigrating unfamiliar customs.Yet, Obierika does not lay the blame wholly on the side of the white man. He feels also that the Umuofians who have converted to Christianity have consciously and wrongly turned their backs on their own “brothers.” This assessment complicates our understanding of the novel, as Achebe prevents us from seeing matters in clear-cut terms of good (black) versus bad (white). Indeed, Achebe elsewhere attempts to demonstrate the validity of some questions about Igbo culture and tradition. If religion and tradition are the threads that hold the clan together, and if that religion is flawed and that tradition vulnerable, it becomes hard to determine who is at fault for the resulting destruction. Certainly, Achebe does not blame the villagers. But, while this quotation displays his condemnation of the colonialists for their disrespect toward Ibo customs, it also shows his criticism of some clan members’ responses to the colonial presence.
                         Even before the white missionaries arrive in Umuofia, the Ibo already have their own judicial systems that are based on the knowledge that their forefathers have passed onto them about their culture. Their courts are spearheaded by the oldest men of the village, whose wisdom and knowledge is trusted in the power of their ancestral gods to guide them to give fair and unbiased ruling. However, one of the first things that the white missionaries do when they arrive in the village is to replace Igbo courts with theirs. This disadvantages the villagers as the white missionaries do not know the history of Igbo, their culture or their system of justice.
          The colonists appear to be so keen on forcing their own culture on the Ibo that they do not see that they are destroying Igbo culture and that they could learn from the Igbo to better understand them and their way of life.  This lack of consideration of the Igbo and their well-being from the Europeans further creates the drift that exists between the two cultures and drives them further apart from where they first started. It also raises the question of the intelligence of the white missionaries. How could a civilised and educated group of individuals who do not give themselves time to learn Igbo culture turn around and call Igbo uncivilised and uneducated? They certainly appear uncivilised and uneducated even though they claim to be. This is contradictory to the statements that they represent as the enlighteners of the village of Umuofia.
                  With the rise of trade, the community of Umuofia was  divided as not everyone in the village was against the colonisers since the white men have provided a new way for the villagers to profit.  With this opportunity they were even ready to accept the confines of the white man’s rule because they weren’t willing to sacrifice the new trading opportunity to fight for their independence. This shows how colonialism shakes the very base of society, altering and dislocating the views of the natives.
 “ The white man had indeed brought a lunatic religion, but he had also built a trading store and for the first time palm-oil and kernel became things of great price, and much money flowed into Umuofia.” (Achebe; Chapter 21 pg.161)
 As Gramsci says, hegemony was altered through the establishment of a strong civil society by the white men, imposing their religious and cultural values upon the Ibo people. Colonisation here occurs by altering the belief, customs and values through the establishment of schools, government and religion.  “New churches were established in the surrounding villages and a few schools with them.  From the very beginning religion and education went hand in hand. “ (Achebe; chapter 21 pg 164)
                   When Mr. Brown was succeeded by Reverend James Smith, he brought in the distinction of Black and White. Black was seen as evil. This progresses to the level where oppression and subjugation is faced by the native through the form of religion and education.  The leaders of the village including Okonkwo are imprisoned by the District Commissioner.  After their return they gather for a meeting where , the first speaker laments the damage that the white man and his church have done to the clan and bewails the desecration of the gods and ancestral spirits.
                         The  leader of the messenger of the white man orders the meeting to end. No sooner have the words left the messenger’s mouth,  Okonkwo kills him with two strokes of his machete. A tumult rises in the crowd, but not the kind for which Okonkwo hopes: the villagers allow the messengers to escape and bring the meeting to a conclusion. Someone even asks why Okonkwo killed the messenger. Understanding that his clan will not go to war, Okonkwo wipes his machete free of blood and departs. At the end of the novel, the whole village has come under the subjugation of the white man and unable to live under the oppression, Okonkwo takes his own life.  
                            The novel’s ending is dark and ironic. The District Commissioner is a pompous little man who thinks that he understands indigenous African cultures

 This sentence, which concludes the novel, satirizes the entire tradition of western ethnography and imperialism itself as a cultural project, and it suggests that the ethnographer in question, the District Commissioner, knows very little about his subject and projects a great deal of his European colonialist values onto it. . Achebe uses the commissioner, who seems a character straight out of Heart of Darkness, to demonstrate the inaccuracy of accounts of Africa such as Joseph Conrad’s. The commissioner’s misinterpretations and the degree to which they are based upon his own shortcomings are evident.
It is seen that the white man sees the death of Okonkwo as a interesting piece of news. “ The story of this man who had killed a messenger and hanged himself would make interesting read” (Achebe ;Chapter 25 pg 187)
                          On the other hand, colonialism has also had its negative and appalling effects by how the missionaries and the European officers have completely stripped the identity of the tribe and more than forced them to accept the new teachings while eradicating the tribe's previous teachings with the argument that such things were not true. It is not a matter of whether such traditions are true or not—what matters is that a person practices ethical customs that does not strip away the basic human right of anybody. Ironically, while colonialism wanted to put forth new knowledge on “true” faith and eradicating unlawful customs, the nature of forcing the Christian faith towards people who are reluctant to accept them can also be judged as an unlawful act.                        Achebe’s novel seeks at least in part to provide an answer to such inaccurate stereotypes. Okonkwo is by no means perfect. One can argue that his tragedy is of his own making. One can also argue that his chi is to blame. But as a societal tragedy, Things Fall Apart obviously places no blame on the Ibo people for the colonialism to which they were subjected. At the same time, the traditional customs of the villagers are not glorified—they are often questioned or criticized. Achebe’s re-creation of the complexity of Okonkwo’s and Umuofia’s situations lends a fairness to his writing. At the same time, his critique of colonialism and of colonial literary representations comes across loud and clear. Without culture Igbo society is as good as dead, hence the significance of Okonkwo’s death in the end. Like Okonkwo the Igbo committed suicide by not being suspicious of the white missionary’s intentions in their land or questioning his presence.      Works Cited : Primary Source :Achebe, Chinua. Things fall apart. Allied Publishers Pvt. Ltd. New Delhi, 2012. Print Secondary Source : 1. Ashcroft, Bill; Griffiths, Gareth, & Tiffin, Helen. The post-colonial studies reader. London: Taylor & Francis, 2003. Print.
 2.  Owomoyela, Oyekan. A history of twentieth-century African literatures. Lincoln: Univ. of Nebraska Press, cop. 1993. Print. 3. Said, Edward W. Orientalism , New York: Vintage Books, 1979. 4. “Colonialism.” Oxford English dictionary (www.oed.com) Web. 13 August. 2014.  5. Yeats, Butler William. “The second coming.” (http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/172062) Web. 13 August  2014 6. Achebe, Chinua. "Chinua Achebe." Interview by Bradford Morrow. Conjunctions17 (Fall 1991). (http://www.conjunctions.com/archives/c17-ca.htm)Web. 28 August. 2014 7. Sickels, Amy. Critical insights: things fall apart (Kindle Edition). Critical Reception of Things Fall Apart. Salem Press. Web. 15 Jun. 2012.