Describe Padmini (a character from Girish Karnad's play Hayavadana) as unconventional.

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jameadows | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Padmini, the central female character in the play, is unconventional; she is of peerless beauty and is also a strong woman who is able to demand what she wants. When Devadatta, the intellectual who marries Padmini, describes her to his friend Kapila, he says, "Her forelocks rival the bees; her face... is a white lotus. Her beauty is as the magic lake. Her arms the lotus creepers."

Kapila offers marriage on behalf of Devadatta to Padmini, and she immediately accepts. This act also makes her unconventional, as she does not seek her parents' permission first. After marrying, she is unhappy with Devadatta, who is an intellectual. Kapila says to his friend Devadatta, "You can’t bear a bitter word or an evil thought. But this one is fast as lightning--and as sharp. She is not for the likes of you. What she needs is a man of steel." Padmini is too sharp and demanding for her husband, and she yearns for the muscularity of Kapila. She says of Kapila, "And what an ethereal shape! Such a broad back--like an ocean with muscles rippling across it." 

Padmini demands a husband who is not only smart but physically appealing, and when the two men kill each other in a fight, she appeals to the goddess Kali to help her. It is then that Padmini inadvertently reattaches Devadatta's head to Kapila's body (thereby creating what she thinks will be the perfect husband). While events do not turn out the way she expected, she is unconventional in the way she takes charge of her fate and demands more from life.

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thetall | (Level 1) Senior Educator

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Padmini is unconventional because she connects Kapila’s head to Devadatta’s body and does the same with Devadatta’s head by fixing it on Kapila’s body. She was doing this in an attempt to create the perfect man. It should be noted that although Kapila and Devadatta were very close friends, they were also quite different, especially with regard to the argument that the head is superior to the body. Kapila supports the notion that the body is more superior to the head since he is a wrestler, while Devadatta holds the opposite since he is a learned poet. Padmini and Kapila fall in love and make the situation complex because Padmini is Devadatta’s wife. It is after the death of both Devadatta and Kapila that she switches their heads and their bodies. The situation after the exchange brings about confusion in the bodies and eventually Kapila’s and Devadatta’s heads revert to their initial personalities, but with glaring differences. These changes end up in failure for Padmini, who attempted to create the perfect man, both physically fit and intellectually superior.

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