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Loosing the Shackles of Colonial Injustice: Tanika Gupta’s Transcultural Adaptation of A Doll’s House

  • Journal of Modern English Drama
  • Abbr : JMBARD
  • 2024, 37(1), pp.135-159
  • Publisher : 한국현대영미드라마학회
  • Research Area : Humanities > English Language and Literature > English Literature > Contemporary English Drama
  • Received : March 24, 2024
  • Accepted : April 7, 2024
  • Published : April 30, 2024

Heebon Park-Finch 1

1충북대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

This paper examines how Tanika Gupta’s 2019 revisionist adaptation of Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House works as a forceful postcolonial critique, resituating and redefining the original work and its characters in the imperial India of 1879. Gupta’s colonial mise-en-scène features a mixed-race marriage between Niru (Ibsen’s Nora), a young Bengali woman, and Tom (Ibsen’s Torvald) Helmer, an English colonial administrator based in Calcutta. Sharply critical of the power dynamics of oppression and subjugation and the stereotyping of race and gender, Gupta’s reworking of Ibsen’s classic play details the impact of colonialism on those who are dominated, laying bare the subjective realms of imperialism. During this process, Niru’s representational need for liberation from cultural mimesis gradually surfaces, as she proceeds from naive ignorance and identity denial to an awakening of personal and ethnic consciousness, in her resistance to the discrimination and oppression emanating from colonizer and colonized. Furthermore, building on Ibsen’s portrayal of patriarchal, androcentric discourse and the liberation of his heroine’s female consciousness, Gupta’s female protagonist manifests her previously marginalized voice through the rejection of colonial rule and the decolonization of the subaltern subject. In conclusion, Gupta’s character-driven adaptation problematizes Indian subjugation and confronts the received truths of the British empire and the institutional refashioning of history, bringing a new urgency to contemporary issues of race, gender, patriarchy and colonial suppression. Niru’s cry for liberation from imperial oppression and the male gaze still echoes in the present day, resonating beyond the confines of the stage.

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