evidence (select quotes, pages?) -Explain evidence proves ideas -Main idea topic sentence -Define + Explain (develop) term Synonym main sources -Similarities (organize - topics) -Differences -Conclusion -Work cited page Don't give feelings, stories, opinions essay.
Comparative analysis of Dhowli by Mahasweta Devi and The Magic Chalk by Kobo Abe
The condition of mankind in the world is an inexhaustible source of tales and stories, one more impressive than the other. And even when the stories approach the same subject, they will still differ as the authors will address the ideas from different angles and the characters will feel different emotions.
Such is the case of Dhowli (Mahasweta Devi) and The Magic Chalk (Kabo Abe), which initially appear as two different stories, yet they also reveal some similarities in the ideas and themes approached. Both stories are strongly emotional and reveal the frustrations with the social conditions of the two characters Dhowli, the young poor widow, and Argon, the young and poor artist.
One story takes place in the East, where the culture is based on castes and the superiority of the specific social structures. The other story, The Magic Chalk, takes place in the Western hemisphere, where the culture is based on the equality of genders and where the single social status is dictated by money, rather than caste.
The two stories are both powerful -- despite their short span -- and leave a powerful imprint on the mind of the reader. And this very impression is the reason as to why they were selected for analysis. And the comparative analysis is expected to be intriguing, given that the two stories are different, yet they also resemble one another in some instances.
2. Common themes
The Magic Chalk, the story of a young painter, Argon, comprises of numerous themes, out of them the more interesting ones being:
The poverty of the individual
The desire for a better life
The love and lost of the individual
The comparison between the individual and the others around
The dissolution and the creation of a new world
The equality of genders, with emphasis on the Adam and Eve theme
The death theme.
In Dhowli, the themes approached by Mahasweta Devi are also numerous and complex, to include those revealed below:
The poverty of Dhowli
The social constructions and castes in India
The inferiority of women
The theme of the forbidden love
The eternal theme of death.
Both Dhowli and Argon are young and they live in poverty, and both of them would desire a better life for themselves. They assess this poverty at an individual level, as well as in comparison to those around. Dhowli for instance perceives her poverty in the context of the richness of the people she and her mother work for. Dhowli's father had been a land laborer all his life and he had to solicit a great loan from the Brahman in order to be able to marry his daughter; he then worked until he died to repay the loan. And when he died, Dhowli and her mother relied on the mercy of the landlords for work and scraps of food. The young girl would pick fruit from the ground that had already been started by birds and showed these to the landlady for approval to take home. In essence then, Dhowli's poverty is contextual.
Argon's poverty is presented in a less complex manner and it does not span through time and the remembrance of past years. His poverty is that of a more modern young man, who chose a career that is not financially rewarding. Like Dhowli, he also assesses his poverty comparative to other people, namely his next door neighbor and his friend who works at the bank. In both instances of comparison, Argon is hungry and the others eat; his neighbor's cooked meals spread an appealing smell to his room and his friend has eaten half his lunch, leaving the rest for later.
Another common theme in the two stories is represented by the desire for love, which drives both characters to decisions and actions they would have normally not done. Argon searches for a companion with whom to create a new world, like Adam and Eve, whereas Dhowli searches for love, passion and affection, which she has been missing in her life. And in the search for love and the start of a new life, both characters become victims of their own disillusion. They willingly commit to their new dreams, however these seem illogical. Dhowli knows that her social condition cannot be overcome, yet she hopes for a rewarding relationship beyond castes. However the widow's disillusion is illogical in the social context of India, Argon's dissolution is even impossible in a real life context as he cannot create a new world by drawing it on the wall of his room. And both of the disillusions end in tragic manners, with the absorption of Argon is his wall life and the prostitution of Dhowli and her abandonment of her family.
A fourth theme that is recurrent in both short stories is represented by the equality and role of genders. In Devi's story, women are the net inferiors of men, with the Dusad widows being the absolute lowest cast in India. In The Magic Chalk however, women are beginning to gain the same social rights as men and the equality of genders is better supported.
Last, the final common theme in both stories is represented by the theme of death. In Dhowli, death is omnipresent and it materializes in various instances, such as the death of Dhowli's husband and the death of her father, or the ongoing threat to her life, her mothers and the baby's, through starvation.
Death makes its presence felt even from the beginning of the story, whereas in The Magic Chalk, death is not even mentioned until the end of the story. And even then, it is not inflicted, but merely stated. When Miss Nippon has a pistol in her hand, she forces Argon into submission by the threat of death:
"Stop it! What are you going to do with that thing? [the pistol]"
"Death, I'm going to make death. We need some divisions. They're very important in making a world" (Abe).
The magic chalk
Contextual in the social stance
Compared to others
Source of poverty
Love and passion
Lust and partnership for a new world (Adam and Eve)
Unusual decisions to pursue love
Different needs for love
Overcome social castes
Love from Eve (Miss Nippon)
Tragic end of disillusion
Nature of dissolution
Gender equality / inequality
Inferiority of women
Equality of women
Cause of problems
Attitudes towards women
Mentioned in the end
The end of things as they are known
3. Three ideas
The previous section has focused on revealing and presenting the themes and ideas which are recurrent in the two short stories by Mahasweta Devi and Abu Kabe, namely the themes of poverty, love, disillusion, gender inequality and death. At this stage however, it is important to select the three most important ideas and conduct a deeper analysis of them. In such a setting, after the initial assessment of the main ideas of the stories, it is now believed that the three most important ideas are those of love, disillusion and gender inequality. They will be further detailed below.
3.1. The idea of love
Dhowli's expectation of love has been decreased, and her most favorite time was from her childhood, when she would spend time with her father. As she grew however, she was bethrowed to an older man, whom she barely knew and whom she did not love; nor he loved her. Dhowli's life as a married woman was hard; she lived on the leftovers and she was beaten by her husband.
"About her wedding she could not recall much because she must have been very small at the time. She was sent to live with her husband when her body blossomed. […] She remembered noting nice about her husband. He used to beat her. He died of a fever" (Devi).
And after he died, Dhowli chose to not interact with any boy in her community:
"After she returned to Tahad, she did not let herself near any Dusad boy. What good could come of it? The same routine of backbreaking work, with kids in your lap, kids following you around, no food, nothing. Dhowli had no desire for that kind of life, the only kind of life for a Dusad girl" (Devi).
As a widow, Dhowli as such choose to remain alone, and neglected both the boys in her caste, as well as the Misra boy, when he first approached her. She however gave in eventually and lived a passionate love, yet in constant fear of what might happen. Her love affair was irresponsible and she did not believe it its resistance over time, often saying that her lover would soon marry a girl…