Critical Analysis of the Dance of the Eunuchs by Kamala Das

 Critical Analysis of Kamala Das’ The Dance of the Eunuchs

Kamala Das’ remarkable descriptive poem “The Dance of the Eunuchs” reveals the joyless life of the eunuchs, the other and the marginalized community. The poem is realistic and visual. The poem is autobiographical too.

The poet opens the poem telling about hot and rough weather to portray the barrenness in the life of the eunuchs. T heir life is miserable, empty and filled with sorrow. Eunuchs survive by dancing. They dance beneath the “fiery gulmohur’’ until their legs bleed. Their appearance, looks, costumes are peculiar:

“………………..There were green

Tattoos on their cheeks, jasmines in their hair, some

Were dark and some were almost fair.”

Eunuchs’ songs are full of melancholy. They tell of sad stories of lovers dying and children left unborn. There is no happiness in their songs because ‘’their voices were harsh’’. Their dancing is pathetic. Eunuchs belong to no sex as they have ‘sorry breasts.’ The smiles on their faces are just masks and that are actually “vacant ecstasy”. They are born to suffer only. They are none but poor creature. Human beings enjoy their wild dancing mercilessly. Even the nature feels sorry for the eunuchs:

“The sky crackled then, thunder came and lightning

And rain…”                                                           

The theory of abjection,” The abject is situated outside the symbolic order, being forced to face it is an inherently traumatic experience, as with the repulsion presented by confrontation with filth, waste or a corpse- an object which is violently cast out of the cultural world, having once been a subject”, developed by Julia Kristeva can be applied to understand the poet’s personal grief. The images of “a meager rain that smelt of dust in Attics and the urine of lizards and mice…” represent the contrast between the superficial joy and the inner pang in the poet’s life.

The poet creates a gloomy environment in the poem to delineate the inhuman sufferings of the eunuchs as well her own depression.