Examine "The Old Playhouse" by Kamala Das as a poem of protest.

Quick answer:

"The Old Playhouse" may be considered a protest by an individual regarding their personal situation or more broadly taking a stand against a common social situation. As an individual, the speaker is protesting their partner's abuse. This specific case may be taken as a representation of domestic abuse throughout society.

Expert Answers

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

Kamala Das's poem is about an unnamed speaker who is upset about the behavior of another person. The poem uses first-person perspective and second-person direct address; as the unnamed speaker directs their words to the other person. Neither one is named.

While their genders and relationship are not explicitly stated, it is strongly implied that the speaker is female and the second person is male, and that their relationship is wife and husband. The speaker identifies with a "swallow" that they refer to as "her." They also say that the other "called me wife." The protest element references domestic abuse.

In this relationship, the speaker portrays the other as dominant and oppressive, claiming that the partner sought to restrain them like the bird. They further accuse the other of extreme egotism, which made the speaker fearful and diminished:


Beneath your monstrous ego ...

I became a dwarf.

The speaker continues stating the varied ways the other dominated them and perverted the idea of love into "lethal" self-love or narcissism. The "old playhouse" of the title is a dark space that metaphorically indicates the speaker's joyless state.

The speaker does not mention physical violence but conveys emotional and psychological abuse. The negative factors are said to lead to death. The poem can be taken as a protest against this kind of treatment within any intimate relationship.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial