Counter-Narrative as a Powerful Narrative Technique for the Voice of the Voiceless in The Palace of Illusions

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Dr. Ancy Elezabath John


India is a land of myth and legends. Indian epics are archives of our history and precedent culture which depicts what happened in the times of yore. They tell us about the events and developments that shaped our culture. Epics dole out as a testimony of our culture. Many Indian writers craft their plot from epics of Hindu mythology which is used as a literary device. Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni uses Hindu mythology in her works broadly to instill audacity in her woman protagonists. She tries to demonstrate how myths steer women to surmount their conflicts in life. Her novels explicate how myths instruct humanity to lead a virtuous life. Draupadi, the heroine of The Mahabharata is presented through a fictional perspective in Divakaruni’s novel The Palace of Illusions, (2008). It is a retelling of The Mahabharata, from the perspective of Draupadi.  She breaks the stereotype of a conventional heroine in Indian literature. Counter-narration is a method of telling the stories of those people whose experiences are not often misrepresented or untold. It is also a tool for uncovering, examining, and stimulating mainstream historical texts. The author uses counter-narrative techniques in the novel to counter the position of women in The Mahabharata era addressing the prejudice, difficulties, and the male dominance that they had experienced. A descriptive analysis enumerates upon the author’s use of the counter-narrative technique in the novel through a detailed description of plot, settings, and characterization. Divakaruni midst of suffering has overcome the predicaments she faced challenging the old age convention that women must accept tradition and society without questioning. Draupadi could endeavour the subversion where most women would have given up. Narrative technique is the art of narrating a story in a literary work by using various techniques. The narrative technique is vastly an aesthetic enterprise. The feature of the narrative includes characters with clear personalities or identities and integrated dialogues. Through Draupadi’s life author dispels outdated notions about what it means to be a woman. The author explores the ancient and personal experiences of Draupadi, as distinct from the original Mahabharata. Draupadi ends up being the most nuanced and divisive female character in Hindu literature. Draupadi is an archetypal representation of the pain and humiliation a woman experiences in a patriarchal society.  The lives of women have not changed over time, whether it is the ancient or the modern era. There are still challenges to overcome the situations that call for specific actions. The novel The Palace of Illusions demonstrates the hardships a princess-born woman had to endure.


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Dr. Ancy Elezabath John. “Counter-Narrative As a Powerful Narrative Technique for the Voice of the Voiceless in The Palace of Illusions”. The Creative Launcher, vol. 8, no. 2, Apr. 2023, pp. 12-19, doi:10.53032/tcl.2023.8.2.02.
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