Bravely Fought the Queen: Characterisation
The play BRAVELY FOUGHT THE QUEEN uncovers how the patriarchal system oppresses and discriminates educated women on the basis of gender. The play is the story of the sufferings of a three generation women of Trivedy family in the hands of male members of the family. Dolly and Alka are married to Jiten and Nitin respectively. Praful is the brother of Dolly and Alka. Baa is the senile mother-in-law. This domestic tragedy centers round the life of the above mentioned characters revealing their psyche through their action and speech.
Dolly and Alka lead their life taking care of the needs of their husband and senile mother-in-law. Their world engulfed with these demanding duties leaves them with no time to live a life for themselves. The intermittent bell ringing of Baa which calls for an immediate attention shows how women also become oppressors in patriarchal society. Jiten Trivedy’s wedlock with Dolly is purely for the sake of societal norm of marriage. He satisfies his sexual libido by calling whores to his office. He beats up Dolly without remorse for no fault of her and that results in giving birth to Daksha prematurely, deformed and mentally retarded. Alka is victimized not only by her husband Nitin but also by her brother Praful. With the ulterior motive of extending his gay relation with Nitin, Praful gives Alka in marriage to Nitin. He violently attacks and threatens to burn Alka’s face for crossing the boundaries drawn by the patriarchal society. Alka’s impulsive questioning of the chastity of Baa in retaliation to Baa’s blaming as whore, made Nitin drive Alka out of home. Alka remains childless because of Nitin’s homosexual nature and Baa’s control over her son. Both the sisters bear the brunt of Baa mainly because of their mother’s second marriage with a already married man. Praful hides the truth that he is the half brother of Dolly and Alka. So Baa scolds their mother as whore and also takes them to be whores. She induces her son Jiten to beat Dolly during her advanced stages of her pregnancy that results in Daksha become a victim of her father’s brutality. Both the women Dolly and Alka masquerade themselves from the suffocating reality. Dolly tries to forget her unromantic reality by immersing herself in the musical world. She finds ideal love in the sweet voice Naina Devi in her thumri song. Her fantasy as having sexual relation with Kanhayia; the cook is her attempt to give vent to her suppressed desires. Alka seeks refuge in liquor to numb her feelings.
Baa, herself, is exploited by her drunkard husband. Baa’s suffering under her violent husband ended her in inability to live in the present. Even after his death, his memory haunts her.
Lalitha is the wife of Sridhar, an employee in Jiten and Nitin Trivedy’s advertising firm. Even though she does not suffer as much as Alka and Dolly, She suffers from loneliness and repression of her creativity and imagination. It is reflected in her grooming of Bonsai tree. Dattani draws parallel between the stunting of the plant’s natural growth and the arrested growth of the women. This bonsai tree symbolizes the women’s plight in a patriarchal society.
The world of male characters is shown in the Act entitled, ‘Man’. Jiten’s male chauvinistic attitude is exposed when he argues for the advertisement to be created for the Re-Va-Tee brand of Lingerie. Jiten discloses his narrow mind that woman’s identity is subordinated to male desires.
In most of Dattani’s play, female protagonists play a prominent role. The careful reading of the play throws light on Dattani’s truthful concern for the pathetic women characters in his play. His story and characters underscores the struggle of women against the oppression of patriarchal Indian society. These plays, having family as its background, showcases the emotional, financial and sexual conflicts of a modern, educated urban Indians. It encompasses the feminist ideology when the subjugated women in the story give vent to their emotions and retaliate. Dattani’s women, attempt to forcefully cross the margins drawn by patriarchal society, but at the end, succumb to the domination of patriarchy and waste away.