Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)

Sacred forest

Sacred forest. Site where King Dushyanta is hunting as the play opens and where he meets and falls in love with akuntal. He is an intruder in the forest, in contrast to akuntal, who considers animals and plants her kin. Local religious devotees ask Dushyanta, who is devout, not to kill any animals in the vicinity; he assents, but his presence nonetheless upsets the balance of life in the forest, much as akuntal’s visit to his palace later in the play upsets the established order there.

King Dushyanta’s palace

King Dushyanta’s palace. Here akuntal comes to plead her case with the king, who, due to a curse, has no memory of their love. Courtiers declaim elaborate, somewhat artificial poetry whose nature imagery ironically echoes earlier, happier scenes. Significantly, it is only when Dushyanta retreats to his garden, where he has been attempting to paint a picture of akuntal’s forest home—another artificial reach toward nature’s authenticity—that deliverance from his troubles comes: a summons from Indra, chief of the gods. He requests Dushyanta’s help in defeating a powerful demon.

Sacred grove of Kashyapa

Sacred grove of Kashyapa (KAWSH-yuh-puh). After triumph in battle, Dushyanta comes here to worship. His faith and his service to Indra are rewarded: He is reunited with akuntal and meets, for the first time, their son, who shows signs of future valor. As in act 1, the action is set in a sacred wood, but now both Dushyanta and akuntal have been brought into harmony with the setting through their devotion and selfless service.

Śakuntalā Bibliography

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)

Bose, Mandakranta. Supernatural Intervention in “The Tempest” and “akuntal.” Salzburg: Institut für Anglistik und Amerikanistik, Universitat Salzburg, 1980. Explains the basis for comparing these two works; focuses on the important structural function of supernatural forces in them, noting how the structure of society in which they live affects the writers’ use of such mythic devices in their dramas.

Harris, Mary B. Klidsa: Poet of Nature. Boston: Meador Press, 1936. Thematic study of Klidsa’s use of nature in his plays. Concentrates on analysis of akuntal and the writer’s other major dramatic works. Analyzes several of Klidsa’s nondramatic writings.

Krishnamoorthy, K. Klidsa. New York: Twayne, 1972. Introduction to the writer and his works. Describes akuntal as a play about the raptures and torments of love, highlighting important Indian values: “duty, property, love, and spiritual good.”

Miller, Barbara Stoler, ed. Theater of Memory: The Plays of Klidsa. New York: Columbia University Press, 1984. Excellent introduction to the writer’s major dramatic works; commentary on akuntal emphasizes its major themes and the playwright’s mastery of dramatic techniques. Bibliography of secondary sources.

Wells, Henry W. “Theatrical Techniques on the Sanskrit Stage.” In The Classical Drama of India. New York: Asia Publishing House, 1963. Examines the theatrical qualities of akuntal, focusing on construction of scenes, dialogue, and development of dramatic tensions that reach a climax in the final act.