Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)


Dushyanta, the king of India and hero of this poetic drama. Falling in love at first sight with akuntal, he persuades her to marry him secretly. In fulfillment of a curse, he forgets about her thereafter until a ring he gave her is shown to him. Reunited first in heaven and then returned to Earth, they live happily for many years.


akuntal, the daughter of a Brahman and a water nymph. She returns the king’s love and marries him but remains in her sacred grove after his departure to await her foster father’s return. After her husband fails to recognize her, she is taken away to heaven by a strange winged being. She gives birth to a son before she and her husband are reunited.


Kanwa, a wise hermit and akuntal’s foster father. Having the gift of omniscience, he knows all about the secret wedding. Informed by a supernatural voice that akuntal’s son is destined to rule the world, he blesses the union and sends akuntal off to her husband. Her premonitions of evil prove true when Dushyanta fails to recognize her.


Mathavya, the king’s jester. To be near akuntal, the king breaks off his hunting, pretending that his motive is to humor a wish of Mathavya.


Bharata, the son of akuntal and Dushyanta. Carried to heaven for a reunion with his wife, Dushyanta finds a young boy playing with a lion. The boy proves to be his son, who accompanies him and akuntal back to Earth.


(Great Characters 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.