“The Old Playhouse' by Kamala Das: Summary and Analysis

The Husband’s Aim to Keep Das in a State of Subjection

The persona in this poem is a woman, undoubtedly Kamala Das herself; and she here gives us a brief account of her unsatisfactory and disappointing conjugal life with her husband. She compares herself to a swallow and her husband to a captor who wanted to tame her and keep her fully under his control by the power of his love-making. The husband wanted to make her forget all those comforts which ashen might have enjoyed in her home before being married; but , in addition to that, he wanted also to make her forget her very nature and her innate love of freedom by keeping her in a state of subjection to him.

Her Purely Physical and Unemotional Response to His Love-Make

Kamala Das then says that have had come to her husband in order to learn what she was band, by learning what she was, to made it possible for her to learn anything because he was a self-centered man and because his egoism prevented him from letting her learn anything except his own nature and disposition . He certainly made love to her, and he felt pleased by her bodily response to his love-making. He approved of her state of mind and her mood when he made love her, and he felt pleased by the tremors of her body during the sexual act. However, he failed to understand that her response to his love-making was purely physical and, therefore, superficial because she never experienced any feeling of oneness with him.

Kamala Das’s Mind, Similar to an Old Playhouse

 Kamala Das was now feeling suffocated in her husband’s home in which his room was always lit by the artificial light of electric lamps and the windows of which were shut. Her husband’s whole house reeked of masculine breath. Even the flowers, which had been cut from the plants, and which had been placed in vases, seemed to have lost their natural small and to have acquired the smell of her husband’s sweet. She no longer heard the singing of birds outside; and she began to feel that her mind was like an old and forsaken theatre-hall which was no longer in use.

Her Resolve to Obtain Releases her inclination, and not only an inclination house and the loveless life of domesticity which she had been leading there. She says that her husband is physically a strong man, and that a strong man always uses the same technique which is to keep his wife physically and sexually satisfied but denying to her the live which she desperately needs and the denial of which has effect of killing her slowly. Kamala Das now compares herself to Narcissus who fell in love with his own reflection which he saw in a pool of water and which subsequently haunted him, cussing him an agony and heartache because he could not enjoy the pleasure of a sexual union with himself. Kamala Das now feels tortured by the intensity of her desire for love which she never got from her husband. It is only by obtaining a release from the tyranny of her husband that she can end that torture; and that release may have to be achieved through suicide if no other method can be found.