Vol. 3, Issue 3 (2018)
The quest for self in the novels of Shashi Deshpande: Symbol and imagery
Abstract: The present paper deals with a study of symbol and image that Shashi Deshpande uses as a technical device to voice the age-old silence of her sex in a free and fair way. Before analyzing her fictional world an attempt is made to define a symbol and an image for the convenience. Before a symbol can be defined, it must be distinguished from a sign. Differentiating between the two, Thames and Hudson in The Reader's Guide to Literary Terms, write: An object that signifies something else, such as a red light, which instructs the motorist to stop, is a sign. To be efficient, the sign must have only one meaning. A symbol, on the other hand, is more complex. It its simplest sense it is also something that stands for something else. The cross, for example, is a symbol of Christianity, the hammer and a sickle, of communism, John Bull of England, etc. Such symbols are more complicated than sign, however, for they sum up a large number of ideas and attitudes and can mean different things in different circumstance. The cross, standing for the whole complex of Christianity, is an object of reverence to some and of contempt to other. Nevertheless, such symbols are public and are generally understood. Symbols are literary discourse. Symbols do not have a public accepted meaning but take their significance from the total context in which they appear. They may also be taken from a special area of knowledge, such as Freaudian psychology, or from a private system of the authors; however, the most powerful symbols are usually formed or, if borrowed, modified by the works in which they are found. Thus, the white whale of Melville's Moby Dick, one of the most discussed literary symbols, is simply the animal which Captain Ahab pursues but at the same time much more. As the novel proceeds, Melville associates so much meaning with Mody Dick that the reader accepts him as an object of great significance. Many critics have discussed the meaning of Mody Dick without any final agreement, for such complex symbols, don't admit of easy definitions, and are perhaps expressible only in terms of themselves.