Can we read "The Man-Eater of Malgudi" as a moral tragedy? Can we read "The Man-Eater of Malgudi" as a moral tragedy?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

I think the answer to that question depends on who readers identifies as the protagonist.  Common analysis places Nataraj in this role, which makes the story a moral allegory, not a moral tragedy .  Nataraj, a man who is passively moral and who even suffers from some sin...

Unlock
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial

I think the answer to that question depends on who readers identifies as the protagonist.  Common analysis places Nataraj in this role, which makes the story a moral allegory, not a moral tragedy.  Nataraj, a man who is passively moral and who even suffers from some sin of pride, if put in a situation where he must define his own morality and act in its favor.  Vasu forces Nataraj to examine his treatment of his subordinates and to realize that he (Nataraj) has been prejudiced and unfair.  Vasu also forces Nataraj to take action in the protection of "good" - having realized that Vasu is going to disrupt the poet's celebration, Nataraj takes steps to prevent it.  He has made a stand for good in the face of evil, and shows readers the value of good.

However, if the story focuses more on Vasu, then yes, it is a moral tragedy.  Vasu clearly represents evil.  He is unkind, vain, selfish, and bullying.  He kills innocent creatures for his own purposes.  He takes advantage of the kind behavior of Nataraj.  And, in the end, he is brought down by his own failings - the mark of any tragedy.  Just as he kills innocent animals, Vasu attempts to kill a mosquito that has landed on his forehead.  (Vasu "feeds" off the animals' deaths, and the mosquito will feed off him - clever symbolism!)  However, in trying to kill the mosquito, he actually kills himself.  Evil brought down by its own hands.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team