Monday, August 9, 2021

Mahabharata Summary Notes

Mahabharata Summary Notes

Mahabharata Summary A Modern Translation is an updated translation and reinterpretation of the Sanskrit epic of ancient Indian literature. It is the longest literary work in the world, with one hundred thousand verses. A legendary narrative, it follows the Kurukshetra War and its impact on the Kaurava royal family and the Pandava princes. It takes place over twelve books and includes philosophical and devotional materials, including discussions of the four goals of life. It includes many of the most famous works of Hindu literature, including the Bhagavad Gita, as well as an abbreviated version of the Ramayana. Mahabharata Summary , Although authorship is traditionally attributed to the Hindu sage Vyasa, who is also a major character in the narrative, little is known about its original composition. Exploring themes of responsibility, virtue, truth, the endless battle between order and chaos and good and evil, and the nature of the spirit in Hindu tradition, it is considered one of the most important works of early human literature. Mahabharata: A Modern Translation was widely praised for making it accessible to modern readers, although it was controversial among believers and readers of the original version for some of her interpretations.

Divided into eighteen segments, Mahabharata: A Modern Translation begins with the origins of the families who are the focus of the book. Sauti, a storyteller returning from a sacrifice, relates the story of the sacred texts as he remembers them. It is the tale of the people descended from the ancient emperor Bharata. Shantanu, the king of Hastinapura, is married to the river goddess Ganga. She gives birth to Devata, a wise and strong boy who is the heir to the throne. However, after Ganga dies and returns to godhood, Shantanu marries a woman named Satyavati, who has a son named Vyasa. He promises her that her future son by him will be king. They have two sons, but both die young. Satyavati asks Vyasa to father children with the widows of her dead son, so she’ll maintain her claim to the throne. He does, and one of the widows gives birth to a blind child named Dritharashtra, and her sister gives birth to a pale-skinned child named Pandu. Because of his blindness, Dritharashtra is not eligible to be king, and Pandu becomes king. However, Pandu has been cursed and will die if he lies with a woman. He marries Kunti, who is blessed with exceptional fertility. They have three children—the brave Yudhishthira, the mighty Bhima, and the warrior Arjuna. However, she has a secret fourth child, Karna, whom she had abandoned before getting married.

Madri, Pandu’s second wife, also gives birth to two children, the twins Nakula and Sahadev. These five children become known as the Pandavas. King Pandu dies after mating with Madri, and his blind brother becomes king. The Pandavas marry the same woman, Draupadi, whom they treat as their common wife. Dritharashtra and his wife, Gandhari, have a hundred children, known as the Kauravas, led by the eldest, Duryodhana. The two clans become vicious rivals as the Pandavas win the love of the people with their strength, kindness, and good deeds. The Kauravas are seen as jealous and wicked. Duryodhana teams up with the Pandavas’ jealous half-brother, Karna, along with their uncle Shakuni to drive the Pandavas out of the kingdom. They challenge their rival clan to a game of dice and manage to defeat the Pandavas by cheating. The Pandavas lose everything, including their wife Draupadi, to the Kauravas and are exiled.

The Kauvaras sentence the Pandavas to a twelve-year exile, followed by a year of anonymity and shunning. The Kauvaras, however, don’t plan to let their rivals simply disappear into the countryside. They send many assassins after them and attempt to kill them in exile. However, the Pandavas manage to escape every time, finding refuge with their maternal uncle, Lord Sri Krishna. The thirteen years pass and the Pandavas return to claim their piece of the empire. However, the Kauvaras don’t plan to honor their part of the arrangement. They refuse to surrender the land, leading to the Great War of Kurukshetra. This epic battle takes place in the fields of the Kuru clan and lasts for eighteen days. This episode of the narrative is the basis for the holy Hindu scripture known as the Bhagavad Gita. The Pandavas ultimately triumph, reclaiming the land for their family, but their friends, relatives, and loved ones die in the battle. The narrative ends with a test in heaven, as they are cleansed of their sins and join their brothers who died in battle in the afterlife, as Sauti closes his narrative.

Carole Satyamurti is a British poet, sociologist, and translator who has taught at the University of East London and at the Tavistock Clinic. She runs a poetry program at the National Gallery in London, and is the author of multiple works of poetry, many printed in the Oxford University Press. She is the 1986 winner of the National Poetry Competition and the 2000 winner of the Cholmondeley Award.

Mahabharata Summary , The Mahabharata (compiled between 300 BC and 300 AD) has the honor of being the longest epic in world literature. It consists of 100,000 2-line stanzas (although the most recent critical edition edits this down to about 88,000). This makes it eight times as long as Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey together, and over three times as long as the Bible (Chaitanya vii). According to the Narasimhan version, only about 4000 lines relate to the main story; the rest contain additional myths and teachings. In other words, the Mahabharata resembles a long journey with many side roads and detours. It is said that “Whatever is here is found elsewhere. But whatever is not here is nowhere else.”

The name Mahabharata means “great [story of the] Bharatas.” Bharata was an early ancestor of both the Pandavas and Kauravas who fight each other in a great war, but the word is also used generically for the Indian race, so the Mahabharata sometimes is referred to as “the great story of India.”


PART ONE: THE GAME OF DICE

In the first two books of the Mahabharata, we learn the background of the Bharatas (also called the Kurus) leading up to the conflict between the five sons of Pandu and their cousins the Kauravas. This story is told by the sage Vyasa, whose name came to mean the “compiler.” (Actually, the author of the epic is unknown, probably many authors over centuries.) Vyasa’s mother is Satyavati, whose name means truth, so he is the “son of truth.” In telling his story to a descendant of the Pandavas, Vyasa says, “If you listen carefully, at the end you’ll be someone else” (play). Vyasa appears infrequently throughout the Mahabharata, giving advice and also fathering Pandu and Dhritarashtra.


Ancestors of the Pandavas and Kauravas

Santanu, king of Hastinapura, was married to the beautiful Ganga, who was the river goddess in disguise. She agreed to marry him as long as he never questioned her actions. Over the years they had seven sons, but Ganga threw each one into the river. Santanu was distressed by this strange behavior, but he kept his promise. Finally, when their eighth son was born, Santanu asked his wife who she really was and why she had done this. Ganga revealed herself and told that her children had once been celestial beings, but were cursed to become human. She had ended their “punishment” quickly by drowning them immediately at birth. But since Santanu had questioned her actions, she left him, along with his last son Devarata.

Devarata is better known by his later name Bhishma. He receives this name, which means “of terrible resolve,” after vowing never to marry or have children. His father wanted to marry again (Satyavati, mother of Vyasa), but the conditions of the marriage were that the second wife would be the mother of a king someday. Honoring his father’s wishes, Bhishma makes his vow, guaranteeing that neither he nor a son of his will challenge the claim to the throne.

Mahabharata Summary Years later, one of Bhishma’s half-brothers dies in battle, and the other becomes old enough to marry. On behalf of his half-brother, Bhishma abducts three sisters and fights off all their suitors. On returning home, he learns that one of the sisters, Amba, had already chosen a suitor. Bhishma allows her to leave, but her betrothed does not want her any more. Now abandoned, she returns to Bhishma and demands that he marry her. Ever faithful to his vow, Bhishma refuses. Amba then vows that one day she will kill him, even though the gods have granted Bhishma the power to choose the day of his death, because of his vow.

The importance and power of vows are evident throughout the Mahabharata. Once stated, a vow becomes the truth and must be fulfilled, no matter what else may happen. When his father and both his half-brothers die prematurely without children, Bhishma refuses to marry his step-brother’s widows (Amba’s sisters). He will not relinquish his vow, even though his celibacy makes no difference anymore.


The young princesses must be given children, but who can father them? There are no other men in the family besides Bhishma, and he has renounced women. So Satyavati, the king’s second wife, asks her first-born son, Vyasa the poet, to give children to the two princesses. He goes to them, but the princesses dislike him, for as an ascetic who has taken a vow of poverty, he is filthy and smells. He explains to them that they will each bear a son: however, the first will be born blind because the first princess closed her eyes when seeing him, and the second will be pale-skinned because the second princess became pale at his touch. The blind son is called Dhritarashtra, the pale one is Pandu. Vyasa has a third son Vidura by a handmaiden.

Kunti in the MahabharataSince his brother is blind and thus unfit for the throne, Pandu becomes the new king of Hastinapura. One day while hunting in the forest, Pandu shoots a gazelle in the act of mating. The gazelle was actually a brahmin priest in disguise, who curses him saying that should Pandu make love to either of his two wives (Kunti and Madri), he will die instantly. Knowing he can never have children, Pandu resigns the throne and goes to live with his wives in the mountains.

Kunti, his first wife, informs him that she possesses a magic power. By reciting a secret formula, she can invoke a god at will and have a child by him. The mantra’s power is put to the test, and she gives birth to three sons: Yudhishthira, the first-born, truthful and virtuous, son of the god Dharma; Bhima, the strongest of men, son of Vayu, god of the wind; and Arjuna, an irresistible warrior, son of Indra. Madri, Pandu’s second wife, makes use of this power too. She has twin sons, Nakula and Sahadeva. Thanks to his two wives, Pandu now has five sons directly descended from the gods, the Pandavas, the heroes of the Mahabharata.

Years later, Pandu one day surrenders to his passion for Madri. Fearing for his life, Madri tries to push him away but her struggles only inflame his desire more. Once they make love, Pandu falls dead, fulfilling the curse, and Madri, devoted to him always, joins him on the funeral pyre.

Mahabharata Summary , Meanwhile, Dhritarashtra has become king, despite his blindness. He weds Gandhari in an arranged marriage. When she learns of her husband’s infirmity, she decides to cover her eyes with a blindfold which she will never remove, to join him in his world of darkness. Then, after an abnormally long pregnancy of two years, she gives birth to a ball of flesh. Vyasa tells her to split up the ball into 100 parts and put them in jars of ghee (Indian butter); in this way she becomes the mother of one hundred sons, the Kauravas.

The first born is called Duryodhana. Sinister omens of violence greet his arrival into the world: jackals howl, strong winds blow, fires rage through the city. Dhritarashtra worries about what all this means. Vidura tells him that his first son brings hate and destruction into the world. He will one day destroy their race. Vidura urges the king to get rid of the child, but Dhritarashtra ignores his advice.

Dhritarashtra is a weak ruler. He allows physical blindness to become a refusal to face reality and unwillingness to confront hard decisions, being easily led by Duryodhana in later years. He continually blames fate, excusing his own inaction: “Irrevocable were all the things that have happened. Who could have stopped them? What then can I do? Destiny is surely all-powerful” [KD 69]. But one of Dhritarashtra’s advisors tells him: “O king, surely a man who meets with calamity as a result of his own acts should not blame the gods, destiny, or others. Each of us receives the just results of our actions.” 

Growing Rivalry between the Pandavas and the Kauravas

Bhishma, now an old man, takes the responsibility of raising the two sets of cousins. They fight constantly, and even try to kill each other. One day a teacher and master of arms, Drona, appears and offers his services to train the boys. He has a secret mission: to avenge an insult made by a former friend. When young, Drona was close to Drupada, but years later, when Drona went to see his childhood companion, now a great king, he was scorned by Drupada because “only equals can be friends.” As payment for his training, Drona asks the Pandavas to avenge him. Being mighty warriors, they conquer Drupada’s kingdom, and hand it over to Drona. He promptly gives his former friend half his kingdom back, saying “now we are equals.”

For revenge, Drupada has children by sorcery, born out of flames: son Dhrishtadyumna is fated to kill Drona; an oracle says daughter Draupadi will “bring destruction on an unrighteous ruler;” a third child Sikhandi is Amba reborn.

Mahabharata Summary , Later in the war, Drona and Bhishma will fight on the side of the Kauravas not so much out of loyalty but because their mortal enemies (Dhrishtadyumna and Sikhandi) fight with the Pandavas.

the five Pandavas in the MahabharataDrona recognizes Arjuna’s superiority as a master of arms, especially the bow, and favors him with special training. In a contest of skill, he tells each of the Pandavas to strike a target, the eye of a wooden bird in a tree. He asks each one in turn, “O prince, tell me what you see.” One by one they respond, “I see my teacher, my brothers, the tree and the bird.” Drona tells them, “Then you will not hit the mark.” Arjuna, however, says he sees only the bird, and in fact, only the eye of the bird. Thus, focused on his target alone, he strikes with total accuracy. Drona rewards Arjuna by giving him a supreme weapon, the Brahmasira, only to be used against celestial beings, or else it will destroy the world.

Drona stages a tournament to display all the Pandavas’ skills, but a stranger appears who challenges Arjuna and equals him in archery. This is Karna, who the reader learns is Kunti’s first son by Surya the sun god, whom she bore before she married Pandu and abandoned in a basket on the river (like Moses). Thus Karna is the older brother of the Pandavas. However, Karna does not know his real mother, being raised by a chariot driver. The Pandavas mock his lowly social status and will not fight with someone who is not of royal birth, but their cousin Duryodhana sees the chance to make an ally. Ignoring the strict rules of caste, he says, “Birth is obscure and men are like rivers whose origins are often unknown” (play). Duryodhana gives Karna a small kingdom, and Karna swears eternal friendship to the Kauravas.

Mahabharata Summary , Karna’s lowly caste (social status) will haunt him throughout the Mahabharata. Later at a contest to win Draupadi as a bride, she rejects him outright because he is from a servant family. For a person who desires to be measured by his accomplishments, living under this shadow is unbearable.

As the child of the sun, Karna was born with golden armor over his skin. Later, the god Indra tricks Karna into giving this divine protection away.

After Karna was born, Kunti remained a virgin

The Pandavas narrowly escape a plot by Duryodhana to burn them in a house made of highly flammable materials. For months afterward, they live in hiding in the forest. One night as Bhima keeps watch while the others sleep, there appears a rakshasa named Hidimbi (a man-eating ogre, one type of demon). Assuming the form of a beautiful woman, she falls madly in love with Bhima, who fights and kills her venomous brother. Bhima and the magical creature then have a powerful demon child called Ghatotkatcha; he swears to come to the aid of his father whenever necessary.


Arjuna wins the hand of Draupadi

Mahabharata Summary The Pandavas attend the swayamvara of Draupadi, a ceremony where she will pick her husband from a number of suitors. Arjuna wins the archery contest easily and Draupadi chooses him. When Arjuna announces to his mother that he has won the “prize,” Kunti tells him to share with his brothers, before seeing Draupadi. Like an irrevocable vow, her statement, even by mistake, can’t be undone, so all five brothers marry Draupadi, the daughter of Drupada.

This unusual marriage fulfills karma, for in her former life, Draupadi had prayed to the god Shiva for a husband five times, and thus is rewarded for her devotion in this life. In the Mahabharata Shiva is not the “destroyer” of the later Puranas, but has more to do with blessings of fertility: he also granted Gandhari her 100 sons. (see notes on Shiva and the other gods)

The brothers agree to respect the privacy of each other when with Draupadi, but one day Arjuna enters the tent to retrieve his weapons and finds Yudhishthira and Draupadi in bed together. Even though Yudhishthira forgives him, Arjuna insists on keeping the vow. As penance, Arjuna goes into exile for a year; while away he marries three other wives, one Krishna’s sister, mostly for political alliances.

As tension mounts between the cousins, Krishna makes his appearance. It is said he may be an incarnation of the god Vishnu, the preserver, come down to save the earth from chaos. The appearance of Krishna introduces a major theme in the Mahabharata: dharma (cosmic order) menaced by chaos, so Krishna must step in, indicating that this is not just a family rivalry, but a conflict with universal consequences.

In the medieval Puranas, the story developed that Vishnu had appeared on earth nine times in the past as an avatar or incarnation, in order to set the world back on the right path, and would appear again at the end of the age. (more on Vishnu)

Krishna’s deification in the Mahabharata may be based on later interpolations into the text, as there is considerable tension in the epic between the depiction of the divine Krishna and the human prince who acts as counselor to the Pandavas, gives devious advice, and eventually dies.

On Krishna’s advice the Pandavas present themselves to the blind king. To make peace, Dhritarashtra offers them half the kingdom, but in a region which was nothing but jungle and desert. Yudhishthira accepts his offer in the hope of averting a war.

Meanwhile, Arjuna and Krishna agree to assist a hungry brahmin, who reveals himself to be Agni, god of fire. He wants to consume a nearby forest which is protected by Indra’s rain. Agni rewards Krishna with his discus and Arjuna with Varuna’s bow Gandiva along with an inexhaustible supply of arrows. With these he is able to create a canopy of arrows to keep the rain from putting out Agni’s fire. Even Indra cannot defeat Arjuna, because Krishna is with him (an indication of Vishnu’s superiority over Indra by this time). Maya (not god of illusion but an asura or demon who escaped the fires) out of gratitude builds the great hall of Indraprastha.

Living in their new territory of Indraprastha, Yudhishthira turns poor land into a wealthy kingdom, and declares himself King of Kings. Duryodhana is jealous and humiliated on his visit to the magnificent palace, where he mistakes a glass floor for a pool, then later falls into a pool thinking it is glass. Draupadi and Bhima laugh at him. He returns home bent on devising their destruction.


The Dice Game and the Humiliation of Draupadi

Mahabharata Summary Duryodhana follows the advice of his uncle, the cunning Shakuni, an infamous dice player, and invites Yudhishthira to a game, knowing full well that gambling is his cousin’s one weakness. Yudhishthira accepts.

Duryodhana is not an original thinker, always relying on other’s ideas. His uncle gave him the idea for the arson and the dice game. Later during the war Duryodhana suggests capturing Yudhishthira and playing another game, which Drona calls stupid.

Duryodhana always threatens to commit suicide when things don’t go his way (almost comical): “Excessive self-centeredness leads to unrealistic demands and unreasonable expectations from life” (Chaitanya 67).

Kunti: “Duryodhana is a blind man’s son, living blindly.” (play)

Draupadi disrobed in the MahabharataBoth Dhritarashtra and Yudhishthira ignore Vidura’s warning to avoid the game, leaving the results to “supreme and unavoidable” fate. Krishna warns Bhishma not to interfere with the dice game: “If your race must be destroyed to save dharma, would you allow it?” (play) Told by his father that a warrior’s dharma is to fight honorably, not to win at all costs, Duryodhana says,  “The way of the warrior is fixed on victory, whether there’s dharma or adharma on his way.”

Carried away by the intoxication of the game, Yudhishthira wagers and loses all that he possesses: his lands, his kingdom, his brothers, even himself, and eventually Draupadi, who is dragged before the company by her hair, a special insult since a married woman’s hair was sacred.

She challenges the Kauravas with a question: how can someone who has lost himself wager someone else in a game, but no one can answer her. Even Bhishma is confounded: “The ways of dharma are subtle.” When even the wise Bhishma cannot resolve the question, she says, “I think time is out of joint. The ancient eternal dharma is lost among the Kauravas.” Instead, they insult her, displaying her during the time of her period. Karna, still stinging from his rejection at the swayamvara, calls her a harlot who services five men. Duryodhana seeks to entice her by uncovering his thigh (obscene in that culture). Enraged at this treatment of his wife, Bhima vows that he will one day drink Duhsasana’s blood and break Duryodhana’s thigh.

Draupadi is about to be stripped naked when she invokes Krishna, who comes to her rescue and creates an endless supply of cloth around her. She swears that one day she will be avenged. There will be a great war, a war without mercy. At her curse a jackal howls. Frightened, Dhritarashtra apologizes to her and gives her husbands’ back everything they lost, but Draupadi asks nothing for herself, saying, “Greed devours all beings and is dharma’s [righteousness] ruin. I refuse greed.” (CN 55)

Mahabharata Summary Seeing his advantage given away, Duryodhana insists on one more throw of the dice. Yudhishthira agrees to a final game, but once again, he loses. The Pandavas and Draupadi are condemned to spend twelve years in exile in the forest, and a thirteenth year in an unknown place, disguised so that no one may recognize them. If anyone does, then they must spend another twelve years in exile.


PART TWO: EXILE

Books 3-5 tell of the twelve years of living in the forest, preceding the great war. The Pandavas are not alone in the wilderness but are followed by many loyal brahmins and servants. The gods give them an inexhaustible plate of food to feed all of them.

Throughout the Mahabharata, the importance of brahmins, the priestly caste, is emphasized. Yudhishthira wants to regain his kingdom so that he can provide for 10,000 brahmins. One must never refuse a brahmin anything (see the incident between Karna and Indra below).


The Importance of Dharma

Draupadi and Bhima reproach Yudhishthira for his inaction and resigned passivity. Since it is obvious that Shakuni cheated at dice, wouldn’t it be better to stand up and fight? Yudhishthira flatly refuses. He will keep his word: he resolves to follow his dharma. Dharma (variously translated as social duty, righteousness, or universal order) is the moral obligation which each human being should recognize and follow. Failure to do so could endanger the course of the cosmos as a whole.

Draupadi cannot understand why they are suffering so, if they are the righteous ones. If everything happens by the will of god, then why do the good suffer? It seems only the powerful escape harm, not the righteous. Yudhishthira corrects her: “None should ever perform virtue with a desire to gain its fruits. Such a sinful trader of virtue will never reap the results. … Do not doubt virtue because you do not see its results. Without doubt, the fruits of virtue will be manifest in time, as will the fruits of sin. The fruits of true virtue are eternal and indestructible”


Preparations for War

Arjuna then leaves, aiming for the highest mountains to look for the celestial weapons they will need during the war. He meets the god Shiva who gives him powerful weapons. Arjuna then spends five years with his father the divine Indra learning to use the weapons fighting demons.

Mahabharata Summary Meanwhile Karna decides he too must acquire a celestial weapon, so for many months he serves a powerful brahmin, Parasurama, who hates warriors. As a reward, he bestows upon Karna, whom he takes to be a servant, a formula for the supreme weapon. But Karna reveals himself to be a warrior by an excess of bravery, as he does not cry out when a worm bores a hole into his thigh. Parasurama curses him so he will forget the secret formula at the moment he wishes for the weapon, and that will be the moment of his death.


In the Medieval Puranas, Parasurama becomes one of the avatars of Vishnu, but there is no indication of that aspect in the Mahabharata.

Karna later meets Indra (Arjuna’s divine father) in the disguise of a brahmin. Having sworn never to refuse a brahmin’s request, he agrees to surrender his divine covering of golden armor given him at birth. He tears off the armor from his skin, bleeding, and trades it for another mighty weapon, which will kill any being but can only be used once.

During their exile, the Pandavas rescue Duryodhana who is captured during battle, to his great humiliation. Honor bids him swear to repay Arjuna one day. Mahabharata Summary ,  Duryodhana is so depressed after his rescue that he intends to kill himself. The Danavas (a family of demons) need him as their champion (he was born at their request) and appear before him. The demons promise they will possess his armies during the coming war, which will continue to give him false hope.

One day, four of the Pandavas are killed by drinking the water from a poisonous lake. However Yudhishthira brings his brothers back to life by correctly answering the questions which Dharma, disguised as a crane, puts to him.


The Thirteenth Year

According to the conditions of the game of dice, the thirteenth year which the Pandavas are to spend in disguise has now arrived. Yudhishthira (who presents himself as a poor brahmin), his brothers and Draupadi (who pass for wandering servants) all find refuge at the court of King Virata. Kicaka, a general in Virata’s court becomes infatuated with Draupadi. He goes to great lengths to possess her, even threatening her life. Draupadi implores the mighty Bhima to help her; dressed in woman’s clothes, he goes in her stead to a secret rendezvous, and pulverizes the over-amorous general into a bloody mass of flesh.

Meanwhile Duryodhana has launched an attack on Virata’s kingdom. The king entrusts his troops to his young son who needs a chariot driver. Draupadi, who seeks war with the Kauravas at all costs, points out Arjuna as the world’s best charioteer, despite the fact that he has disguised himself as a eunuch. Arjuna cannot refuse to fight and is decisively victorious, one man against countless armies.

War draws even closer. Duryodhana refuses to give his cousins back their kingdom because he claims they came out of hiding before the appointed time. He tries to win Krishna’s support, as does Arjuna. Krishna offers Arjuna first choice: either he can have all of Krishna’s armies, or he can have Krishna alone. Arjuna chooses Krishna, allowing Duryodhana to have the armies. When Arjuna asks him to drive his chariot, Krishna accepts.

Mahabharata Summary In the Kaurava court, the blind king also senses the imminence of war. He asks the elderly Bhishma, an unparalleled warrior, to take the supreme command. His duty to the family outweighs his feelings toward the Pandavas, and he reluctantly accepts, but on one condition: that Karna does not fight. Although displeased, Karna bitterly agrees to fight only after Bhishma’s death.

Dhritarashtra sends an envoy to Yudhishthira and begs not to fight since he loves righteousness. It would be better to live without his kingdom than risk the lives of so many. Yudhishthira responds that each caste has its own duty, and his is to be a warrior/king, not a brahmin/beggar. However, even he has reservations: “War is evil in any form. To the dead, victory and defeat are the same” (CN 101).

Krishna arrives as an emissary in a final attempt to safeguard peace. He speaks to Duryodhana who does not listen to him, but orders his guards to seize him. Krishna reveals his divine form: “Krishna laughed and as he did, his body suddenly flashed like lightning. He began to grow in size and various gods issued from him. Brahma sprang from his forehead and Shiva from his chest” (KD 492). Krishna allows even the blind Dhritarashtra to see his glory. Finally, he speaks to Karna, going so far as to reveal that he is the brother of those with whom he intends to fight. But Karna feels abandoned by his mother in his very first hours of life; furthermore he senses the end of this world. He will fight alongside the Kauravas, even though he can already foresee their defeat and his own death.


Duryodhana will not listen to warnings. He convinces himself that since the gods had not blessed the Pandavas thus far, they would not protect them during the war. “I can sacrifice my life, my wealth, my kingdom, my everything, but I can never live in peace with the Pandavas. I will not surrender to them even as much land as can be pierced by the point of a needle” (KD 453). He makes excuses for his nature: “I am whatever the gods have made me” (KD 482).


PART THREE: THE WAR

Books 5-10 of the Mahabharata recount the 18-day war between the Pandavas and the Kauravas.

The Kauravas have eleven divisions to stand against the seven of the Pandavas. The two armies are described as two oceans, crashing against each other. Briefly it’s described as a “beautiful sight” (CN 125-6). Kunti tells the narrator Vyasa (in play): “You find too much beauty in men’s death. Blood decorates your poem, and the cries of the dying are your music.”

Bad omens appear prior to battle as thousands of carrion birds gather “crying in glee”. Karna prophesies that his side will lose, that this is nothing but “a great sacrifice of arms” with Krishna as high priest.

Both sides agree to abide by certain rules of war: no fighting humans with celestial weapons, no fighting at night, do not strike someone who’s retreating or unarmed, or on the back or legs. All these rules will eventually be broken.


The Bhagavad Gita (“The Lord’s Song”)

Mahabharata Summary Just as the battle is about to start, Arjuna falters at the sight of his relatives and teachers, now his sworn enemies. He breaks down and refuses to fight. “How can any good come from killing one’s own relatives? What value is victory if all our friends and loved ones are killed? … We will be overcome by sin if we slay such aggressors. Our proper duty is surely to forgive them. Even if they have lost sight of dharma due to greed, we ourselves should not forget dharma in the same way.” 

Arjuna fears that acting out his own dharma as warrior will conflict with universal dharma: how can killing family members be good, and not disrupt the social order? Herein lies an unresolved conflict in Hinduism between universal dharma and svadharma (an individual’s duty according to caste and station in life). A warrior must kill to fulfill his duty, whereas a brahmin must avoid harming any living creature. Even demons have their own castes and svadharma, which may run counter to human morality. One person’s dharma may be another’s sin. This doctrine distinguishes Hindu thought from religions such as Judeo-Christianity and Islam which teach universal or absolute moral codes.

His charioteer Krishna addresses him as they pause in the no-man’s land between the two armies. This passage is the celebrated Bhagavad Gita, the guide to firm and resolute action. This section of teaching is the spiritual heart of the Mahabharata.

Unlike many epic heroes, at this point Arjuna thinks before he acts. Arjuna hesitates before such killing, wanting to retreat from life and responsibility (tension between dharma and moksha), but Krishna tells him as a warrior it’s his dharma to fight. The real conflict today is with the self on the “battlefield of the soul.

Don’t worry about death, which is only one small step in the great and endless cycle of life. One neither kills or is killed. The soul merely casts off old bodies and enters new ones, just as a person changes garments. Death is only illusion (maya).

How does a warrior perform his duty without doing wrong, polluting himself with the blood of his enemies? The secret is detachment: do your duty without concern for the personal consequences. “Victory and defeat, pleasure and pain are all the same. Act, but don’t reflect on the fruits of the act. Forget desire, seek detachment.” (play)

Vishnu in the MahabharataWe must always do what is right without desiring success or fearing defeat. “Work without desire for the results, and thus without entangling yourself in karmic reactions.” (KD 550) Krishna tells Arjuna that good deeds will not get one to heaven if the desire for heaven is the sole motivation for good deeds. Desire is responsible for rebirth; if any desire remains when we die, we must return to another life.

Likewise, Yudhishthira told Draupadi during the exile that he performs dharma not for reward but because it is what a good person does; after the battle he has a similar crisis when he temporarily refuses to rule, despairing at all the carnage he has caused.

“Actions performed under the direct guidance of the Supreme Lord or His representative are called akarma. This type of activity produces neither good nor bad reactions. Just as a soldier may kill under the command of his superior officer and not be held responsible for murder, though if he kills on his own accord he is liable for punishment, similarly, a Krishna-conscious person acts under the Lord’s direction and not for his own sake.” (BG as it is: online)

“Such a person takes no delight in sensual pleasures. He is ever satisfied within himself. No miseries can disturb him, nor any kind of material happiness. He is without attachment, fear and anger, and remains always aloof to the dualities of the world. … His mind is fixed upon the Supreme and he is always peaceful.” (KD 551)

There are two paths to liberation: renunciation (moksha) and performing one’s duty without desire. Since no one can truly renounce all action in life (this is a pretense of asceticism), it is better to work without attachment (KD 551). Some scholars think that the Bhagavad Gita was composed to combat a religious challenge from Jainism and Buddhism which arose in the 6th century BC, both teaching salvation through renouncing the world, the former by asceticism, the latter by monastic life (Kinsley 31).

Mahabharata Summary Krishna explains that the knowledge he imparts is ancient, just as he told it millions of years ago. Arjuna asks, “How can I accept this? It appears that you were born in this world only recently.” Krishna explains, birth too is an illusion, as men are born countless times. But in Krishna’s case, he comes into every age: “Whenever righteousness (dharma) becomes lax, O Arjuna, and injustice (adharma) arises, then I send myself forth to protect the good and bring evildoers to destruction. For the secure establishment of dharma, I come into being age after age. … I was born to destroy the destroyers.”

Krishna then reveals his divine, universal nature to Arjuna in a magnificent vision of a multitude of gods, stretching out to infinity. Resolved now to perform his duty to his lord, Arjuna leads his troops into battle.

For more information, see Bhagavad Gita as it is

On a hill overlooking the battlefield, Dhritarashtra hears the words of Krishna through his aid Sanjaya, who has been granted the ability to see and hear everything that happens in the battle, to relate these things to the blind king. Dhritarashtra shudders when he hears of Krishna’s theophany, fearing that nothing can stop the Pandavas with such a powerful being on their side. But he takes some comfort in knowing that Krishna cannot accomplish everything he wants, as he failed to arrange a peaceful solution to the conflict.

Before the battle, Yudhishthira goes to both his teachers, Bhishma and Drona: “O invincible one, I bow to you. We will fight with you. Please grant us your permission and give us your blessing.” For this sign of respect, both men pray for the Pandavas’ victory, even though they must out of loyalty fight on the side of the Kauravas.


The Battle Begins

Bhishma compares the invincible Arjuna to “the Destroyer himself at the end of the Yuga” (CN 126). In one confrontation, Arjuna splits Bhishma’s bow with four arrows, and Bhishma praises him: “O son of Pandu, well done! I am pleased with you for this wonderful feat.  Now fight your hardest with me” (KD 581). However, he is unable to overcome Bhishma. After nine days of fighting, the Pandavas visit Bhishma by night; they tell him that, unless he is killed in the war, the carnage will carry on until the end of the world.

When asked how he can be defeated, he advises them to place Sikhandi in the front line, from where he will be able to fire freely at Bhishma. Sikhandi is actually a woman, Amba whom Bhishma had refused to marry and who vowed to be his death. Amba practiced asceticism, standing on one toe in the snow for 12 years to learn the secret of Bhishma’s death. Amba threw herself into the fire and was reborn from flames as Drupada’s second daughter, later changing sex with a demon to become a man

Mahabharata Summary, The next day, confronted by Sikhandi, Bhishma refuses to fight a woman, and he abandons his weapons. Against the rules of war, the Pandavas strike the unarmed warrior with thousands of arrows. There is no space on his body thicker than two fingers that is not pierced. He falls from his chariot, and lies fully supported by the arrows, with no part of his body touching the earth. Bhishma does not actually die until much later, at his choosing. He remains lying on a bed of arrows until the end of the battle.


Drona takes command

Drona positions the armies in a formation known only to him, the iron disc of war, which nobody knows how to break open, apart from Arjuna. If only Arjuna can be diverted away from the central battle, Drona promises victory. Arjuna has a 15-year old son, Abhimanyu, who, by listening to his father while still in his mother’s womb, has learned to force an entry into Drona’s battle formation. As Arjuna is called to a diversionary battle far away, Yudhishthira entrusts Abhimanyu with the task of opening a breach in the disc. Abhimanyu succeeds, but when Bhima and Yudhishthira try to follow him into the opening, they are stopped by Jayadratha, a brother-in-law to the Kauravas, and the breach closes behind the young Abhimanyu. In spite of his bravery, he is killed.

Earlier during the time of exile, Jayadratha had tried to kidnap Draupadi, thus another reason for the Pandavas to hate him.

At this point Arjuna returns to the camp. Inflamed with rage and grief at the sight of his son’s body, he vows to kill Jayadratha before sunset on the following day. He solemnly swears to throw himself into the sacrificial fire, should he fail. Even Krishna is alarmed by this terrible oath. On the next day, Jayadratha is heavily guarded, and Arjuna is unable to reach him. Mahabharata Summary , Krishna causes a momentary eclipse of the sun, convincing the enemy that, since night has come, Arjuna must have killed himself because he hasn’t kept his vow. Rejoicing, they lay down their arms, leaving Jayadratha vulnerable to Arjuna’s arrow.

Krishna drives chariot in the Mahabharata Jayadratha’s father had pronounced a curse on anyone who killed his son, saying that whoever caused his son’s head to fall to the ground would die. Using magical mantras, Arjuna causes his arrow not only to sever Jayadratha’s head, but to carry it miles away to fall into his father’s lap. Being in prayer, he doesn’t realize what’s happened; he stands up and the head falls, thus he dies from his own curse.

The following day, Karna hurls himself into the battle. Kunti tries to persuade him to join the Pandavas, but Karna is inflexible. However, he does promise Kunti that he will only kill Arjuna, for one of them must die. In this way, she will still have five sons after the war.

Karna possesses a magic lance, the gift of Indra, which will kill any living being but can be used only once. He keeps it in reserve for Arjuna. To dispose of this lance, Krishna calls upon Ghatotkatcha, son of Bhima and the rakshasa. During the night, he fights an epic battle against Karna, who can destroy the demon only by resorting to his magic lance. Ghatotkatcha is killed, but Krishna dances for joy. With his lance now expended, Karna is vulnerable and Arjuna can kill him.

Drona continues to challenge the Pandava armies, slaying thousands. But the Pandavas know his weakness: the love of his only son Ashvatthama. Bhima slays an elephant, also called Ashvatthama, then deceitfully tells Drona of the death of his son. Suspecting a lie, Drona asks Yudhishthira for the truth: is his son dead or not? Drona will lay down his arms the day an honest man lies. Krishna tells Yudhishthira: “Under such circumstances, falsehood is preferable to truth. By telling a lie to save a life, one is not touched by sin” (CN 157). Yudhishthira speaks a half-lie, “Ashvatthama – (and muttering under his breath) the elephant – is dead.” Before his lie, Yudhishthira’s chariot rode four inches off the ground, but now it sinks back to earth. Drona lays down his arms. Drupada’s son Dhrishtadyumna cuts off Drona’s head, having sworn to avenge his father’s humiliation.


Meanwhile Bhima sees Duhsasana coming towards him. Bhima had sworn to drink the blood of this avowed enemy for what he had done to Draupadi. Bhima knocks Duhsasana to the ground with his mace and rips open his chest. He drinks his blood, saying that it tastes better than his mother’s milk. Bhima, who kills many Rakshasa (and has a son by one), often acts like the man-eating ogres himself—the bloody deaths of Kicaka and Duhsasana, both to avenge Draupadi; Bhima is her most passionate defender. Bhima kills most of the 100 Kauravas, who were demons incarnate.


The Death of Karna

Duryodhana asks Karna to avenge his brother Duhsasana, and he finally meets Arjuna in the decisive confrontation.

Arjuna and Karna both have celestial weapons (for example, one shoots arrows of fire to be quenched by arrows of water). Karna has an arrow possessed by a Naga (serpent) spirit who holds a grudge against Arjuna (his family had died in the forest consumed by Agni). When Karna shoots at Arjuna, his charioteer warns him that his aim is too high, but he refuses to listen, and hits Arjuna’s coronet only. When the spirit-possessed arrow returns to him and says try again, this time he will not miss, Karna won’t admit failure by shooting the same arrow twice, even if he could kill 100 Arjunas.


As the fight continues, the earth opens up and seizes Karna’s chariot wheel, in fulfillment of a curse. In desperation, Karna tries to invoke his ultimate weapon, but the magic words escape him. He remembers Parasurama’s words: “When you life depends on your most powerful weapon, you will not be able to summon it.” In his last moments, Karna questions his beliefs: “Knowers of dharma have always said, ‘Dharma protects those devoted to dharma.’ But since my wheel sank today, I think dharma does not always protect”. As he struggles to release his chariot, he cries out to Arjuna: “Do not strike an unarmed man. Wait until I can extract my wheel. You are a virtuous warrior. Remember the codes of war.” But Krishna taunts him: “Men in distress always call on virtue, forgetting their own evil deeds. Where was your virtue, O Karna, when Draupadi was brought weeping in the Kuru assembly? Where was it when Yudhishthira was robbed of his kingdom?” (KD 780) Karna’s head sinks to his chest, and he remains silent, while continuing to struggle with the chariot wheel. Krishna commands Arjuna to shoot, and Karna dies. A bright light rises out of Karna’s body and enters the sun.


Stubborn but loyal, Karna could have been king, as eldest of the Pandavas, but he remained with the Kauravas. He always fights fair, and keeps his promise to Kunti not to kill any brothers but Arjuna. Their rivalry echoes the mythic conflict between their divine fathers Indra and Surya.


The Death of Duryodhana

Over the eighteen-day war, Duryodhana has seen his generals and their armies fall to the Pandavas, but to the very end he refuses to surrender. He hides in the waters of a lake, which he has solidified over him by magic. Ever the gambler, Yudhishthira tells Duryodhana that he can fight any brother he chooses, and if he wins, the kingdom will be his again. It says something of Duryodhana that he fights with Bhima rather than one of the weaker brothers. In a close battle between equals, Bhima wins only by treacherously striking Duryodhana on the legs, forbidden in the rules of war. Gandhari had put a protective spell over Duryodhana’s body, but because he wore a loin cloth for modesty before his mother, his thighs were not protected.


Duryodhana accuses Krishna of taking sides unfairly and encouraging Bhima’s treachery. Krishna responds: “Deceit in battle is acceptable against a deceitful foe. Even Indra used deceit to overcome the mighty asuras Virochana and Vritra.” An onlooker remarks, “Bhima has sacrificed dharma for the sake of material gain. This can never lead to success and happiness.” Krishna replies that Bhima was merely keeping his earlier vow, a sacred duty: “There is no unrighteousness in Bhima. He has carried out his promise and requited the debt he owed his enemy. Know that the terrible age of Kali is at hand, marked by fierce acts and the loss of dharma.”

Duryodhana responds bravely: “I am now dying a glorious death. That end which is always sought by virtuous warriors is mine. Who is as fortunate as me? With all my brothers I will ascend to heaven, while you Pandavas will remain here, torn by grief and continuing to suffer.” (KD 816)

As Duryodhana lies dying, Ashvatthama, Drona’s son, tells him how he sneaked into the camp of the victorious Pandavas at night to perpetrate a hideous massacre, killing the remaining warriors and all the children while asleep, leaving the Pandavas without any heirs. Rather than welcoming the news, Duryodhana dies disheartened that the race of the Kurus appears to have no future.

Thus all those on both sides die in the war, except the five Pandavas. When Yudhishthira learns of the massacre, he mourns: “We the conquerors have been conquered.”

When the Pandavas seek revenge, Ashvatthama launches the most fearsome celestial weapon in his arsenal. Arjuna counters with his own weapon, which Drona taught both of them; it was only to be used against divine beings, or else it could destroy the world. Ashvatthama deflects his into the wombs of the remaining Pandava women, making them sterile, but Krishna promises that Arjuna will nonetheless have descendants. As punishment, Ashvatthama is cursed to wander the earth in exile for 3000 years.

Bhishma in the MahabharataAfter the war, when Krishna exits the chariot, it bursts into flames; only his presence kept the celestial weapons from destroying it earlier. Krishna reveals that the gods allowed this war to relieve Earth of her great burden (similar to Troy). Duryodhana was the incarnation of Kali, lord of the 4th age.

Mahabharata Summary Yudhishthira reports the death toll at six million. Appalled at such losses, he has a personal crisis similar to Arjuna before the battle. He doesn’t want to rule because it requires the use of force and more violence. He sees that life itself is painful, as men are always searching for more material wealth and power, never satisfied. The man who prizes gold and dirt equally is happiest. The others convince him he must rule and fulfill his duty.

Yudhishthira has a vision of the age to come: “I see the coming of another age, where barbaric kings rule over a vicious, broken world; where puny, fearful, hard men live tiny lives, white hair at sixteen, copulating with animals, their women perfect whores, making love with greedy mouths. The cows dry, trees stunted, no more flowers, no more purity; ambition, corruption, the age of Kali, the black time” (play).

Mahabharata Summary - Bhima asks, why has he come this far only to quit, like a man climbing a honey tree but refusing to taste it, or a man in bed with a woman but refusing to make love? Draupadi questions his manhood, as only eunuchs seek tranquility and avoid violence. Arjuna says refusing to rule will only cause more disorder and create for him great amount of bad karma to face in next life of lowly birth. We should accept our role depending on where we are in life: a father has obligation to his family while they are young, likewise a king must first rule, then in the last years of life he may abandon the world, but to do so earlier would be an act of selfishness.

In his dying speech, pierced by many arrows, Bhishma tells Yudhishthira that in the fourth age (our present age), “dharma becomes adharma and adharma, dharma.” Somewhat paradoxically, he continues, “If one fights against trickery, one should oppose him with trickery. But if one fights lawfully, one should check him with dharma … One should conquer evil with good. Death by dharma is better than victory by evil deeds.”

Bhishma’s dying advice to Yudhishthira lasts 50 days and covers two of the longest books in the Mahabharata (12-13); some of the topics:

Mahabharata Summary “There is no duty higher than Truth,” but five falsehoods are not sinful: lying in jest, lying to a woman, lying at a wedding, lying to save a teacher, lying to save one’s life.

The foremost duty of kings is to revere Brahmins.

“No creature is more sinful than woman; women are the root of all evil; she is poison, she is a snake, she is fire,” but at the same time, “Righteousness of men depends on women. All pleasures and enjoyments depend on women.”

Cows constitute the stairs that lead to heaven; cows are goddesses able to grant every wish; nothing in the world superior; one should never go to bed or rise in the morning without reciting the names of cows.” Cows provide cleansing from sin. “There is nothing unattainable for one who is devoted to cows” (this goes on for about 50 pages).

1000 names of Vishnu (26 pages)

Shortly after, Arjuna tells Krishna that he has forgotten his teaching (contained in the Bhagavad Gita) so for 36 chapters this advice is repeated.

Now that all her sons are dead, Gandhari’s eyes are so charged with grief that, by looking under her blindfold, her emotion sears the flesh of Yudhishthira’s foot. She curses Krishna, whom she holds responsible for all of the tragedy that has befallen them: the Pandava kingdom will fall in 36 years. Even Krishna will die; he shall be killed by a passing stranger. Krishna calmly accepts this curse, then tells her that a light has been saved, even if she cannot see it. Yudhishthira agrees to reign.

Dhritarashtra has one son by another wife who survives the war. Yuyutsu chose to fight on the side of the Pandavas, deciding to follow dharma rather than loyalty to his family. After the war, out of gratitude Yudhishthira makes Yuyutsu king of his old territory Indraprastha.

Mahabharata Summary Thirty-six years pass, and Yudhishthira arrives at the entrance to paradise, carrying a dog in his arms. His brothers and Draupadi, who left the earth with him, have fallen from the mountains into the abyss along the way. A gatekeeper tells him to abandon the dog if he wants to enter paradise. He refuses to leave a creature so faithful, and is permitted to enter, for this was a test, the dog was the god Dharma in disguise. In paradise, further surprises await him. His enemies are there, smiling and contented. His brothers and Draupadi, on the other hand, seem to be in a place of suffering and torment. Why? Yudhishthira decides to stay with his loved ones in hell, rather than enjoy the delights of heaven with his enemies. This too was a test, the “final illusion.” They are all permitted to enter paradise.

Mahabharata Summary In Hindu thought, neither heaven (svarga) or hell are eternal, but only intervals between rebirths. Everyone must first spend some time in hell (or a hell, as there are many) to pay for the sins of the most recent life. Yudhishthira had to experience hell for only a moment, because of his lie to Drona. Heaven is obtained by good deeds, but only for a limited time until the accumulated merit runs out.

The Country Wife Summary by William Wycherley

The Country Wife Summary by William Wycherley

The Country Wife Summary by William Wycherley , The Country Wife Summary - The Country Wife may be a Restoration comedy, that is, an English theatrical comedy written during the amount 1660-1710, when theatrical performances resumed in London following their 18-year spell of illegality under the reign of the Puritan Commonwealth. As a genre, Restoration comedy is notable for displaying a recrudescence of bawdiness, the general public expression of which had been suppressed under the Puritans, and for taking a satirical, or maybe cynical, view of marriage and sexuality. As are going to be seen, these characteristics owe much to the genre’s social and historical contexts.

 Restoration comedy had for its intended audience English court and other social insiders; whereas the Elizabethan theater had played to a cross-section of English society, stage audiences of the Restoration had a much more specific social identity, and therefore the comedies they enjoyed reflect their attitudes and values accordingly. The aristocracy had regained its security and visibility with the restoration of the monarchy in 1660, but it had lost permanently much of its political and economic significance; as a result, this rather aimless class expended its energies on theatergoing and other, more dissolute antics. As if to catch up on its moral nullity, however, the Restoration aristocracy placed more emphasis than ever on social virtuosity and therefore the punctilios of comportment; essentially, it proposed outward good breeding, instead of virtuous moral conduct, as a principle of societal coherence. The Country Wife Summary by William Wycherley , This valorization of display, of perfect manners, wit, and therefore the ability to improvise, clearly informs the action and dialogue of Restoration comedies. Moreover, the minimization of genuine moral virtue are often seen to impact the values, like they're , that inform the plays. Among the Restoration aristocracy, sexual libertinism was fashionable and marriage scorned; consequently, as David Cook and John Swannell put it, marriage generally appears in Restoration plays “at best as a convenient means of acquiring an income, and at the worst as a continuing source of jealousy and frustration.” Husbands, especially , tend to seem absurd, being either compulsively jealous or obtusely complacent.

In order better to know this derogation of marriage, it'll be convenient to talk of Restoration comedy, and of the values that animate it, as breaking down into two phases, namely the sunshine comedies of the 1660s and therefore the cynical comedies of the 1670s. the previous , as B. A. Kachur points out, attended feature an obligatory couple the model of Shakespeare’s Beatrice and Benedick; this couple’s “mutual antagonism-cum-attraction provided the requisite does of benign sexual energy that resolved itself happily in romantic love and consensual marriage between the subversive libertine and inviolable heroine.” The plots, then, tended toward a decisive social and moral resolution, imaged within the impending licit coupling between the leading characters: the libertine, and therefore the moral subversion he represented, were domesticated and brought in check by his voluntary submission to the virtuous heroine. The Country Wife Summary by William Wycherley against this , the comedies of the 1670s were darker; as Kachur observes, they featured “a preponderance of lecherous men and married women who opted for dispassionate and illicit sex and denigrated marriage altogether.” The sexual behavior of those characters attended effect not resolution but dissolution, and therefore the comedies of the 1670s attended have ambiguous conclusions, instilling insecurity instead of social affirmation. The Country Wife (1675) is, of course, of this latter type.

From the 1660s to the 1670s, a shift had occurred in contemporary attitudes toward the institution of marriage. This shift was due partially to certain events during the Interregnum, i.e. the amount of parliamentary and military rule under the Commonwealth of England, beginning with the execution of King Charles I in 1649 and ending with the restoration of the monarcy under Charles II in 1660. The Country Wife Summary by William Wycherley,  one among these events was the marriage Act of 1653, passed under the Lord Protector Oliver Cromwell; this Act required a civil ceremony so as for a wedding to be legally recognized, and by shifting jurisdiction of marriage from church to state, it redefined marriage as a civil contract instead of a sacramental bond. Inevitably, this redefinition diminished the religious awe during which the institution of marriage had long been held. It also enabled a revaluation of the facility dynamics obtaining between husband and wife: traditionally, the husband was sovereign within the domestic sphere and therefore the wife was subservient to him; the model for this relation, of course, was the sovereignty of the monarch over his subjects, but because the deposition of Charles I had cast doubt upon the inevitability of the reign of monarchs over the commons, therefore the marriage Act made the reign of husbands over wives depend not on a spiritual necessity but on negotiations between the 2 parties concerned. The Country Wife Summary by William Wycherley, Perhaps, then, women needed not be the subservient vassals of their husbands; increasingly, they were viewed as free individuals with rights and private agency. The tyrannical or neglectful behavior of husbands therefore became grounds for criticism and satire.

 

Moreover, the conduct of Charles II himself, in both his public and his personal capacities, provided grounds for criticism and even cynicism about both the state and therefore the marital state. Charles’s governance of England was culpably inept; by the 1670s, it had been clear that the hopes of 1660 were to be disappointed which the King wasn't to orchestrate stability within the realm or establish trust within the regime. Additionally, his personal example was deplorable: he was infamous for his extramarital affairs and for his illegitimate children, who numbered above a dozen. The Country Wife Summary by William Wycherley , The King, then, wasn't the lynchpin of national harmony that he need to have been; neither was he an honest husband. within the cynical comedies of the 1670s, these facts were made to analogize and comment upon one another . Kachur sums it up: “By the 1670s, marital relationships within the comedies were dominated by characters, like embittered subjects to a seemingly disloyal and detached king, whose skepticism and disenchantment over matrimony bespoke the overall malaise and dissatisfaction with the present state of Britain’s restoration, and their want of fidelity, trust, and affection toward their mates, also as their illicit sexual liaisons, signalled a covert rebellion against a bond that neither party found tenable.” Such, clearly, is that the social, political, and moral atmosphere that precipitated Wycherley’s The Country Wife.

The Country Wife Summary by William Wycherley William Wycherley’s The Country Wife was written and first performed in London, in 1675. The play has lived on together of the foremost famous samples of British Restoration comedies and continues to be produced frequently. The Restoration era, between 1660 and about 1700, describes the amount following the Commonwealth era and therefore the restoration of English monarchy. During the Commonwealth, theatre was banned in England for 18 years, so together with his return to the throne, King Charles II encouraged not only the reinstatement of the theatre but the assembly of plays with lascivious content and language. Restoration comedies had complicated romantic plots, often featuring a mix of labor and (as the character Sparkish complains) members of the aristocracy. After Puritan control during the Commonwealth, artistic responses just like the Country Wife adopted a transparent anti-Puritan stance. But even during this moment of permissiveness, the play was considered scandalous and was actually banned from the stage between 1753 and 1924.

The Country Wife, supported a compilation of Molière’s the varsity for Husbands (1661), the varsity for Wives (1662), and Terence’s The Eunuch (161 BCE), is about marriage, infidelity, and male friendship. Harry Horner, an infamous womanizer, enlists his doctor to spread the false rumor that Horner has become impotent to convince other men to trust him to be alone with their wives. Jack Pinchwife, a former rake, has recently married Margery Pinchwife, a lady from the country, since rampant cuckolding seems to be a trait learned within the city. The Country Wife Summary by William Wycherley Pinchwife tries to cover his wife from his philandering friends, but Horner becomes enamored with Margery, who immediately falls for him. As Horner schemes to bed Margery (as well as all the opposite married ladies around him), his friend Frank Harcourt falls crazy with Pinchwife’s sister, Alithea, who is betrothed to Mr. Sparkish, a foolish bore who believes that he's witty and intelligent. Much trickery ensues, involving masks, fake twins, and humorous mix-ups. At the top of the play, Mr. and Mrs. Pinchwife remain unhappily together while Harcourt presumably marries Alithea, and Horner goes on to stay bedding unhappy wives who can preserve their honor and reputation under the ruse that Horner is incapable of defiling them.

The Restoration era introduced the primary professional women actresses, as before the Commonwealth, female roles on English stage were played by boys. This led to the creation of “breeches roles,” which required women to wear pants, a trope that manifests within the Country Wife when Margery Pinchwife is disguised as her own brother. Given the style of the amount , the appeal of getting women in breeches roles was the chance to ascertain their legs in form-fitting clothing. The play depicts competitions that occur between men and therefore the ways in which women become pawns and prizes in those competitions. It shows these interactions as a game during which a woman’s honor and reputation are tantamount to her social value, and yet the impeachability of her virtue is decided less by her actions than by the gossip surrounding her actions (or even inactions). The Country Wife differs from many romantic comedies in its cynicism about marriage and an ending during which the protagonist doesn't wed his beloved or maybe receive punishment for duplicitousness but instead continues his rakish behavior.

 

The Country Wife Summary by William Wycherley

Act I.

The Country Wife Summary by William Wycherley The play’s action begins with Harry Horner explaining to The Quack his brilliant ruse for making a conquest of London’s upper-class ladies. Horner has spread a rumor that a treatment for venereal disease rendered him impotent, and his new status as a eunuch will allow him to gain access to ladies whose husbands and families would otherwise consider him dangerous. It will also allow the ladies to undertake liaisons with him and yet preserve their honor in the eyes of the world.

 Sir Jasper Fidget enters with his wife, Lady Fidget. Inferring from Horner’s aversion to ladies that the rumors of his impotence are true, Sir Jasper arranges for Horner to act as his wife’s new chaperone and companion. After the departure of the Fidgets, Horner’s two friends, Frank Harcourt and Mr. Dorilant, enter and banter with him about women, wine, and friendship. Soon the fatuous Mr. Sparkish arrives, bores the three friends with his pretensions to wit, and is driven away.

 

Act II.

Margery Pinchwife complains to her sister-in-law, Alethea Pinchwife, that her new husband has confined her indoors and will not let her see the sights in London. The women discuss Pinchwife’s jealousy, and Margery expresses her admiration of the actors she saw at the theater yesterday. Pinchwife enters and impresses both wife and sister with the importance of Margery’s remaining ignorant of the ways of the town. The Country Wife Summary by William Wycherley When Margery inquires the reason for this, Pinchwife explains that a licentious man at the theater has seen her and fallen in love with her; Margery is delighted, and soon Pinchwife locks her away in another room.

 Sparkish, who is to marry Alethea tomorrow, arrives with Harcourt to show off his fiancée to him. Harcourt falls in love with Alethea immediately upon seeing her, and he cleverly makes advances to her under the nose of Sparkish, who is too obtuse to comprehend the drift of Harcourt’s dialogue. Alethea tries in vain to wind Sparkish up to some degree of indignation over this behavior; Sparkish believes staunchly that sophisticated town wits are immune to jealousy.

Once Sparkish, Harcourt, and Alethea have left, Pinchwife is surprised by the arrival of Lady Fidget, Dainty Fidget, and Mistress Squeamish. The ladies have come to see Margery, but Pinchwife invents excuses for why they cannot, then departs rudely. The ladies discuss Pinchwife’s jealousy and lament the mistreatment of upper-class wives by their husbands. They also discuss adultery, which they agree injures no one’s honor as long as it goes on in secret.

Sir Jasper arrives with Horner, saying that he has business to attend to and that the ladies must accept Horner as their chaperone. Lady Fidget rejects the idea of spending time with a eunuch, but Sir Jasper wins her cooperation by suggesting that she might win money off Horner at cards. Lady Fidget and Horner then step aside, ostensibly to patch things up, and Horner tells Lady Fidget in confidence that his impotence is a sham. She is delighted with this news, and the pair establish an implicit intention to undertake a liaison.

 

Act III.

Margery and Alethea again discuss the restrictions Pinchwife has imposed on Margery. Pinchwife then enters and, after accusing Alethea of being a disreputable lady, says that he is looking forward to marrying Alethea off to Sparkish and then returning with Margery to the country. Margery protests, however, saying that she wants to stay in London and walk abroad. Pinchwife finally gives in; he decides to disguise Margery as a young man and take her out for an airing.

In the next scene, Horner, Harcourt, and Dorilant stand bantering in the New Exchange. Harcourt confesses that he is in love with Alethea and needs a way of preventing her marriage to Sparkish. Horner advises him to use Sparkish himself as a cover for making advances to Alethea. Sparkish himself then approaches, and soon Pinchwife enters with Alethea and the disguised Margery.

Horner, recognizing Margery beneath her disguise, makes his move right under Pinchwife’s nose; Pinchwife cannot intervene without admitting to the disguise and humiliating himself. The Country Wife Summary by William Wycherley Meanwhile, Harcourt gets Sparkish to plead for him to Alethea, and in begging for reconciliation he covertly (but in terms clear enough to Alethea) expresses his love for her. Alethea becomes frustrated with Sparkish, who refuses to recognize that Harcourt is actually trying to steal her away from him.

When Pinchwife’s back is turned, Horner manages to make off with Margery. Pinchwife searches in vain for his wife, who soon returns with her arms full of gifts from Horner. Pinchwife, suspecting that he has been cuckolded, prepares to leave. Sir Jasper enters to fetch Horner to Lady Fidget.

 

Act IV.

Alethea’s maid Lucy finishes dressing her mistress for the wedding with Sparkish. Lucy disapproves of the match, however, and continues to advocate for Harcourt. The two women argue about the nature of honor and whether it is prudent or just for Alethea to marry a man she does not love, simply because she previously agreed to it. The Country Wife Summary by William Wycherley , Alethea also reveals that Sparkish’s lack of jealousy is, to her, his most attractive quality.

Sparkish enters with Harcourt, who is disguised as his fictional brother “Ned,” the parson, who is to officiate at the wedding. Alethea tries in vain to make Sparkish see through the disguise; eventually she gives up and agrees to submit to what she knows will be an invalid marriage ceremony.

In the next scene, Pinchwife interrogates Margery regarding her encounter with Horner. Pinchwife is not yet a cuckold, but he sees that he will have to take measures to ensure that Horner does not have any further success with his wife. Pinchwife forces Margery to compose at his dictation a letter to Horner expressing her disgust with him and renouncing any further contact. Margery complies under threat of physical harm, but once the letter is finished and Pinchwife’s back is turned, she substitutes a love-letter for the harsh one Pinchwife dictated.

The Country Wife Summary by William Wycherley , In the next scene, Horner gives The Quack a positive report on the success of his impotence ruse. The Quack then conceals himself as Lady Fidget enters, seeking her first sexual encounter with Horner. The Country Wife Summary by William Wycherley , After some preliminary fretting over her reputation, she embraces Horner just in time to be caught in the act by Sir Jasper, who enters unexpectedly. Lady Fidget’s outrageous explanation, that she was merely determining whether Horner is ticklish, satisfies her oblivious husband. Sir Jasper objects, however, that Lady Fidget was supposed to be shopping for china. She explains that Horner himself has some expertise in china and even possesses a few pieces that she would like to obtain. With this excuse, she exits to another room, into which Horner soon follows her on the pretense of protecting his china collection. As Sir Jasper stands gleefully by, anticipating that his wife is about to obtain a valuable piece of china, Lady Fidget and her new lover have a liaison behind the locked door. Mistress Squeamish enters too late and is disappointed to have missed her opportunity; when Horner and Lady Fidget re-enter, they indicate through double entendres that he is physically depleted.

Pinchwife enters, and Sir Jasper departs with the ladies. Pinchwife delivers Margery’s letter to Horner; Horner reads it on the spot and figures out that Margery has substituted a love-letter for one that Pinchwife dictated to her. Pinchwife warns Horner not to cuckold him, but Horner feigns surprise at learning that the “youth” he kissed was not Margery’s brother but Margery herself. With another warning, Pinchwife departs.

After a brief discussion between Horner and The Quack, Pinchwife re-enters with Sparkish. Pinchwife and Sparkish are discussing the latter’s marriage to Alethea, which may be invalid, as the authenticity of the parson is now in doubt. Horner expresses disappointment in Alethea’s attachment to Sparkish; he is thinking of Harcourt’s hopes, though Pinchwife takes him to be disappointed for his own sake. Pinchwife exits, and Sparkish invites Horner to dine with him and Pinchwife. Horner accepts, on the condition that Margery will be invited.

In the next scene, Margery thinks longingly of Horner and sits down to write another letter to him. Pinchwife enters, reads the letter she is composing, and is about to commit a violent act upon her when Sparkish walks in and puts a stop to it, leading Pinchwife off to dinner.

 

Act V.

After dinner, Pinchwife directs Margery to finish the letter to Horner as she had intended. Margery cleverly finishes it in Alethea’s name, suggesting that Alethea, not she, is in love with Horner. Pinchwife warms to the idea of marrying Alethea to Horner instead of Sparkish. Meanwhile, with Lucy’s help, Margery concocts a plan to get to Horner’s lodging: she will impersonate Alethea, who ostensibly wishes to meet Horner and discuss the matter with him but who is so ashamed that she must wear a mask in order not to face Pinchwife. Pinchwife falls for this ruse, and soon he and the disguised Margery depart for Horner’s lodging.

In the next scene, Pinchwife delivers the disguised Margery to Horner and then departs to find a parson who will marry Horner and Alethea. Sir Jasper then enters to inform Horner that Lady Fidget and her friends will soon be arriving.

In the next scene, Pinchwife, in Covent Garden, presents Sparkish with evidence that Alethea has written to Horner and intends to marry him. Sparkish is incensed over this insult. Soon Alethea enters, and Sparkish says such nasty things to her, including an avowal that her only attraction for him was her money, that Alethea concludes that she was deceived all along about his good nature.

In the next and final scene, Lady Fidget, Dainty Fidget, and Mistress Squeamish all carouse with Horner in his lodging. (Margery is concealed in a nearby room.) The Country Wife Summary by William Wycherley , The ladies speak openly of their frustrations with the upper-class men who neglect them and of the hollowness of “reputation.” Lady Fidget then makes a reference to Horner’s being her lover; this admission elicits surprise from the other two ladies, who apparently have also availed themselves of Horner’s services. The three ladies quickly agree not to fight over him, however, but rather to be “sister sharers,” all keeping each other’s secrets.

Sir Jasper enters, and then the group receives notice that Pinchwife and others are approaching. Horner sends his guests into another room, then calls forth Margery and tries in vain to persuade her to go home before Pinchwife finds her. Margery, however, has resolved to leave Pinchwife and take Horner as her new husband. Horner sends her back into the other room as Pinchwife and the others enter.

Pinchwife, accompanied by Alethea, Harcourt, Sparkish, Lucy, and a parson, wants Horner to attest that Alethea has visited his lodging. Horner lies, in order to protect Margery, and affirms this. Alethea, baffled and aware that she is dishonored by this slander, avows that she regrets the loss of no one’s good opinion but Harcourt’s. Harcourt declares that he believes her; he then tries in vain to get Horner to clear the matter up. The two men have reached a stalemate when Margery pokes her head in.

Margery gives her opinion that the parson should marry Horner to her rather than to Alethea. Pinchwife, suddenly undeceived, draws his sword on Margery; Horner objects, and Pinchwife turns to threaten him instead, then is restrained by Harcourt. Sir Jasper, entering, inquires what is going on and is amused by the notion of Horner’s cuckolding anyone. Pinchwife’s seriousness, however, instills in him a fear that Horner may be virile after all. The Country Wife Summary by William Wycherley.

Lucy intervenes, claiming that Margery’s coming in disguise to Horner’s lodging was not an indication that Margery loves Horner but rather part of Lucy’s plan to break up Sparkish and Alethea. Margery objects, however, that her love for Horner is genuine. Pinchwife makes more threats.

The Country Wife Summary by William Wycherley Suddenly The Quack walks in, to the relief of Horner, who calls upon him to attest to his impotence, which The Quack obligingly does. Sir Jasper readily accepts this medical testimony. Pinchwife is more suspicious and requires to be assured that all of London believes in Horner’s impotence before he will accept the idea. Margery continues to dissent, but the ladies overwhelm her testimony with expressions of their confidence in Horner’s deficiency. Among the concluding remarks, Harcourt indicates his impatience to be a husband, the Pinchwifes each indicate their distaste for their marriage, and Lucy insists to Pinchwife that Margery’s expression of love for Horner “was but the usual innocent revenge on a husband’s jealousy.” Margery reluctantly confirms this lie, and Pinchwife resigns himself to accepting the story, though it does not convince him: “For my own sake fain I would all believe; / Cuckolds, like lovers, should themselves deceive.”

 

Project Hail Mary Summary by Andy Weir

Project Hail Mary Summary by Andy Weir

Project Hail Mary Summary by Andy Weir  , Project Hail Mary Summary - Published in 2021, Project Ave Maria is American author Andy Weir’s third novel, following The Martian (2011) and Artemis (2017). a real example of hard fantasy , Project Ave Maria features Weir’s characteristic combination of humor, scientific accuracy, and technical speculation while incorporating more speculative elements of the genre, notably in its depiction of human contact with extraterrestrial life. Rights to a movie adaptation of the book were purchased in 2020.

 

Project Hail Mary Summary by Andy Weir

Project Hail Mary Summary by Andy Weir In the near future, junior high school school teacher Dr. Ryland Grace wakes abreast of the Ave Maria interstellar spaceship with total amnesia, the sole surviving member of a three-person crew. Gradually, Grace recalls that his controversial academic work on extraterrestrials caused him to be drafted into Project Ave Maria , a mission 12 light-years from Earth to the Tau Ceti system to save lots of all of humanity. Earth’s sun is infected with Astrophage, an alien body that navigates a migration pattern between the sun and Venus via infrared emission called the Petrova Line. because the Astrophage cause solar dimming, humanity has only 26 years before failure , famine, and global climate change will reduce the planet population by half, and that they will ultimately cause total extinction. Project Hail Mary Summary by Andy Weir to save lots of all of civilization, Grace must learn why Tau Ceti is unaffected by Astrophage and send data probes back to Earth. However, the Ave Maria is on a sacrifice mission, because the ship can’t carry enough fuel for a return trip. because the story unfolds during a wry, first-person present and alternates scenes from the past and present, Grace recalls discovering Astrophage and preparing for Project Ave Maria because the mission’s lead scientist, and he tries to get why Astrophage haven't destroyed Tau Ceti but seem to be affecting every other star within the local galaxy.

At Tau Ceti, Grace encounters an alien spaceship, the Blip-A, from the 40 Eridani system and meets an Eridian, a dog-sized spider-like extraterrestrial with hard mineral skin whom he names Rocky and who is additionally the sole surviving member of his respective crew. After initial communication via scale models, Rocky and beauty learn to speak verbally with the assistance of translation software. Rocky’s home star is additionally infected with Astrophage, and he's at Tau Ceti for an equivalent reason: to find out the way to stop Astrophage from destroying 40 Eridiani and every one life on Rocky’s home planet with it. Eridians and humans are similarly intelligent, although Eridians are sightless, counting on highly developed sonar senses instead, and are less technologically advanced than humans, although they need perfect memories and highly advanced engineering, and Rocky can produce nearly anything from xenonite, a pure-xenon compound stronger than any material on Earth. Grace and Rocky marvel at their similarities and start to make an in depth friendship, sharing an identical sense of humor.

Grace’s memory continues to enhance , Project Hail Mary Summary by Andy Weir and therefore the storyline of his remembered past follows his discovery that Astrophage migrate to Venus to breed within the carbon dioxide-rich Venusian atmosphere. Grace works closely with Eva Stratt—the leader of Project Ave Maria who has been granted total authority and immunity by the United Nations—and a world team of scientists aboard a Chinese carrier to develop an region ship, create an Astrophage-powered engine, and prepare the crew for his or her one-way mission to Tau Ceti. because the mission progresses, Stratt justifies increasingly morally complex decisions, starting from the conscription of unwilling experts to the nuclear bombing of the Antarctic shelf ice to shop for Earth longer , beat the name of saving the humanity .

 

Rocky builds a network of tunnels aboard the Ave Maria , Project Hail Mary Summary by Andy Weir and therefore the pair visit the earth Adrian, which is that the other pole in Tau Ceti’s own Petrova Line of migrating Astrophage. The Ave Maria is broken during a risky mission to gather a sample of Astrophage from Adrian’s atmosphere, and beauty is almost killed before Rocky risks exposure to Earth atmosphere to save lots of him. Rocky suffers combustion thanks to the oxygen in Grace’s air; Grace, in return, is exposed to the ammonia-based Eridian atmosphere and badly burned as he saves Rocky by returning him to his pressurized compartments. As they both get over their injuries, Rocky and beauty discover that Astrophage features a natural predator, which Grace names Taumoeba. Taumoeba keep the Astrophage population in check , mitigating its effect on Tau Ceti.

 

Grace recalls teaching Martin DuBois and Dr. Annie Shapiro about Astrophage and helping to check the equipment for his or her journey. The mission’s scientist and back-up scientist respectively, DuBois and Shapiro are chosen for the mission due to a rare DNA sequence that predicts coma resistance, because the Ave Maria crew are going to be in medically induced comas for the four-year journey to Tau Ceti so as to stop depression and psychosis. When DuBois and Shapiro are killed simultaneously in an accidental explosion, Stratt forces Grace, who also has the DNA marker for coma resistance, to travel in their stead. When Grace resists, Stratt gives Grace a strong amnesia-inducing drug and has him carried, unconscious, onto the Ave Maria for launch, stopping at nothing to make sure that the mission goes on.

Project Hail Mary Summary by Andy Weir In the present, Grace attempts to reconcile his shame at not volunteering for the lethal-but-heroic mission together with his will to survive and desire to save lots of his students’ lives and every one of humanity. Project Hail Mary Summary by Andy Weir, Grace and Rocky learn that nitrogen is lethal to Taumoeba and start breeding a nitrogen-resistant Taumoeba strain which will survive the atmospheres of Venus and Threeworld, the infected planet within the 40 Eridani system. Rocky repairs the damage to the Ave Maria and offers Grace his extra Astrophage fuel. Re-fueled and having successfully bred nitrogen-resistant Taumoeba to regulate the Astrophage on their home stars, Grace and Rocky say their goodbyes.

One month into his return journey, Grace realizes that the nitrogen-resistant Taumoeba have also evolved the power to undergo xenonite, a side effect of being bred in xenonite tanks. Grace is in a position to contain the Taumoeba and stop them from destroying his Astrophage fuel, but he knows that Rocky’s fuel tanks are made from xenonite and Rocky is probably going now stranded in space, putting his entire species in danger again. Grace launches the Hail Mary’s four probes, as was originally intended, and turns back to rescue Rocky and take him to Erid, knowing that he will starve when he runs out of food. Grace saves Rocky, who refuses to permit Grace to die and suggests that Grace try eating Taumoeba until Eridians can find a far better solution.

Project Hail Mary Summary by Andy Weir Years later, Grace is happily established on Erid, teaching science to young Eridians. he's ready to survive on Eridian-made vitamin shakes and lab-grown protein. Rocky visits Grace to inform him that Eridian scientists have determined that Sol, Earth’s sun, has recovered from the Astrophage infestation, indicating that the probes returned to Earth and Project Ave Maria was successful. Grace debates making the long, lonely journey home but puts off the choice as he heads to figure teaching.