The Ramayana main character Prince Rama standing with an arrow quiver on his back and holding a bow

The Ramayana

by Vālmīki

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Characters Discussed

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Last Updated September 11, 2023.


My fortune changed and lost deplore.

A forest life more joys may bring

Than those that wait upon a king... Canto XXII.

Rama is the central character and the seventh avatar of Lord Vishnu. He embodies the ideals of dharma (duty), righteousness, and devotion. Rama is an exemplary prince and later becomes the rightful king of Ayodhya. He is known for his unwavering commitment to truth and morality, even in adversity. Rama's quest to rescue his wife, Sita, from the demon king Ravana forms the core of the epic.


Regarding kin and friendship, I

Can see no better, holier tie,

And every penance-rite is dim

Beside the joy of serving him.

But dark is this to her whose mind

Promptings of idle fancy blind,

Who led by evil thoughts away

Makes him who should command obey, Canto CXVII.

Sita is Rama's beloved wife and an avatar of the goddess Lakshmi. She represents ideal femininity, characterized by purity, devotion, and resilience. Sita's abduction by Ravana sets the epic's central conflict in motion, and her unwavering loyalty to Rama throughout her captivity is a testament to her strength and virtue.


O honoured Queen I like it ill

That, subject to a woman's will,

Ráma his royal state should quit

And to an exile's doom submit, Canto XXI.

Lakshmana is Rama's devoted younger brother and constant companion. He exemplifies loyalty and self-sacrifice, accompanying Rama into exile and standing by his side throughout their adventures. Lakshmana is known for his unwavering dedication to protecting Rama and Sita, even at great personal cost.


My foe in state affairs is wise,

And prudent kings have searching eyes.

By other hands they strike the foe:

By meaner tools the truth they know, Canto II.

Hanuman is a prominent character in "The Ramayana" and one of the most revered deities in Hinduism. He is a monkey god known for his immense strength, intelligence, and devotion to Lord Rama. Hanuman plays a crucial role in the search for Sita as he leaps across the ocean to reach Lanka, discovers her captivity, and delivers Rama's message. His loyalty and selflessness make him a beloved figure in Hindu mythology.


From counsel, sages say, the root,

Springs victory, most glorious fruit.

First ranks the king, when woe impends

Who seeks the counsel of his friends,

Of kinsmen ever faithful found,

Or those whose hopes with his are bound,

Then with their aid his strength applies,

And triumphs in his enterprise, Canto VI.

Ravana is the primary antagonist of the epic, a powerful and arrogant demon king who rules Lanka. He is known for his intelligence, mastery of dark arts, and ten heads, symbolizing his immense knowledge. Ravana's abduction of Sita and his subsequent defiance of Rama form the story's central conflict. While he represents evil in the narrative, his character highlights the eternal battle between good and evil.

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Critical Essays