"Sonnet - The Lotus" - Short Questions & Answers

1)      Who approached to Flora for a flower and why?

“The Lotus” by Toru Dutt, begins with the goddess of love, approaching the flower goddess, Flora to create a flower who would undisputedly be the queenliest of all flowers.  Both the lily and the rose, use their “bards of power” in their fight over the queenliest flower title.   Toru uses Greek and Roman mythology as support for her Hindu beliefs and to establish her stand.   

 In line 8 of the poem, we reach the climax where all the flower groups form cliques in a bitter conflict within the soul’s essence.  The goddess Flora is given a task of creating a flower as “delicious as the rose” and “stately as the lily in her pride”.  Lines 9-14 of the poem, describes the solution to the problem of finding the queenliest flower of all.   Toru has Flora create a flower that is both red as a rose and white as a lily.  As a result, Flora creates a flower with the characteristics of a rose and a lily combined and created the beautiful lotus flower.

The lotus is a national symbol of India and the Hindu faith.  The overall theme of the poem is the pride of India’s culture and Hindu religion. The idea of Hindu being the ultimate religion of the world is the main focus of “The Lotus”. 

2)      Where do the flowers meet for the challenge? Who are the main characters of the challenge?

“The Lotus” by Toru Dutt, begins with the goddess of love, Psyche, approaching the flower goddess, Flora to create a flower who would undisputedly be the queenliest of all flowers.  The lily and the rose are the main contenders of the challenge; they had been rivals for long for that high honour. They use their “bards of power” in their fight over the queenliest flower title. They also have their followers among other flowers. Some flowers told rose was better than lily and other flowers compared lily to the beautiful goddess juno's face. Some flowers supported lily whereas others supported rose.  Toru uses Greek and Roman mythology as support for her Hindu beliefs and to establish her stand.

The flowers meet at goddess of love, Psyche’s bower for the challenge. In Roman mythology, Psyche is Cupid’s love interest. In their story, Psyche is at one point brought to a bower (a leafy shelter or recess) covered with plants and flowers. There the goddess Flora is given the task of creating a flower as “delicious as the rose” and “stately as the lily in her pride”.  

3)      What do the Rose and Lily symbolize?

In her Sonnet, “The Lotus” Toru Dutt is entering into a long poetical debate on the superiority of the rose versus the lily, most notably William Cowper’s “The Lily and the Rose”. Dutt portrays the rose as romantic and delicious because of its color in contrast to the lily, which is regal and stately in stature. In Cowper’s poem, it is decided that the two flowers must reign equally as queen until there exists a third to surpass them. Dutt employs the powers of the gods and goddesses along with the tradition of the “Bards” in order to position the lotus as the “queenliest” flower.

The Sonnet the Lotus is interesting in the symbolic representation of flowers. The rose is projected as one that has been often used by poets as a powerful symbol of beauty, romanticism and deliciousness. The lily is projected as a symbol of stateliness and majesty. In the symbolic projection the lotus surpasses both as it is a combination of beauty and stateliness, (the rose and the lily). It is perhaps because of this that the lotus is considered a symbol of the divine-divinity which is a combination of beauty and stateliness. As Toru Dutt describes; ‘And Flora gave the lotus, “rose-red” dyed, / And “lily-white,”—the queenliest flower that blows.’

 

4)      Who is the queenliest of flowers? How is the queenliest flower created?

“The Lotus” by Toru Dutt, begins with the goddess of love, approaching the flower goddess, Flora to create a flower who would undisputedly be the queenliest of all flowers. The lily and the rose are the main contenders of the challenge; they had been rivals for long for that high honour. The flowers meet at goddess of love, Psyche’s bower for the challenge. There the goddess Flora is given the task of creating a flower as “delicious as the rose” and “stately as the lily in her pride”.  Flora has to create a flower that is both red as a rose and white as a lily.  As a result, Flora creates a flower with the characteristics of a rose and a lily combined and created the beautiful lotus flower. Thus the Lotus turns out to be the queenliest of flowers. As Toru Dutt describes; ‘And Flora gave the lotus, “rose-red” dyed, / And “lily-white,”—the queenliest flower that blows.’

In western tradition, rose is projected as one that has been often used by poets as a powerful symbol of beauty, romanticism and deliciousness. The lily is projected as a symbol of stateliness and majesty. In the symbolic projection the lotus surpasses both as it is a combination of beauty and stateliness, (the rose and the lily). Thus Toru substitutes her own version of beauty, inspiration, and poetic power for conventional European ones. It is perhaps because of this that the lotus is considered a symbol of the divine-divinity which is a combination of beauty and stateliness.

5)      Who creates the queenliest flower and why?

Same as previous answer. Just add this line in the first stanza – When asked about colour, Love at first asks for “Rose-red,” then says “No, lily-white,—or, both provide”.

 

 

Last modified: Friday, 29 December 2017, 12:46 AM