“The Old Playhouse” is a poem by Kamala Das, a prominent Indian poet and writer known for her feminist and confessional writing. The poem explores the themes of love, marriage, and the loss of identity in a patriarchal society.
The poem is written in free verse and is divided into six stanzas. The speaker, who is the wife in a traditional Indian marriage, is reflecting on her relationship with her husband. She describes their relationship as a “playhouse” – a place where they acted out their roles as husband and wife, but where there was no real intimacy or connection between them.
The speaker describes her husband as a “man of this world,” someone who is concerned only with his own desires and pleasures. She feels trapped and suffocated in this relationship, unable to express her own needs or desires. She describes herself as a “dumb doll” who has lost her own voice and agency.
The speaker also reflects on the societal expectations placed on women in her culture. She describes how women are expected to be obedient and subservient to men, and how their identity is defined by their roles as wives and mothers. She feels that her own identity has been lost in this process, and that she has become nothing more than an object for her husband’s pleasure.
Despite her frustration and anger, the speaker also expresses a sense of resignation and acceptance. She recognizes that her marriage is a “playhouse” that she cannot escape from, and that she must continue to play her role as a wife. However, she also recognizes the toll that this has taken on her, both emotionally and spiritually.
Hence, “The Old Playhouse” is a powerful and poignant reflection on the challenges faced by women in traditional patriarchal societies. Through the speaker’s experiences, Kamala Das highlights the ways in which women are dehumanized and oppressed, and the toll that this takes on their sense of self and identity.