Girish Karnad

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The Fortunate Lady’s Flower Symbol Analysis

The Fortunate Lady’s Flower Symbol Icon

The fortunate lady’s flower appears several times throughout the play, and symbolizes the limitations of Padmini’s happiness in her marriage. When Padmini, Devadatta, and Kapila are traveling in their cart, Padmini spots a beautiful tree and asks Kapila what it is. He explains that the flower gets its name because “it has all the marks of marriage a woman puts on” (yellow like the color of her dress, a red spot like on her forehead, black marks resembling a necklace). Padmini is entranced by Kapila’s explanation, and also by his body as he climbs to retrieve the flowers for her. Thus the use of the flower is a duplicitous symbol. Although Kapila explains that it signifies marriage, for Padmini, it also represents her thoughts of infidelity, and how she is dissatisfied in her marriage to a single man. The tree appears later, when Padmini visits Kapila in the forest (after he and Devadatta have switched bodies) and she expresses that she is unhappy and that she misses Kapila. Finally, the Bhagavata explains that the tree grows where Padmini performs sati, thus defining both her life and her death by the limitations of her marriage.

The Fortunate Lady’s Flower Quotes in Hayavadana

The Hayavadana quotes below all refer to the symbol of The Fortunate Lady’s Flower. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Identity, Hybridity, and Incompleteness Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Oxford edition of Hayavadana published in 1976.
Act 1 Quotes

Why do you tremble, heart? Why do you cringe like a touch-me-not bush through which a snake has passed?

The sun rests his head on the Fortunate Lady’s flower.

And the head is bidding good-bye to the heart.

Related Characters: The Bhagavata (speaker), Devadatta, Kapila, Padmini
Page Number: 24-25
Explanation and Analysis:
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The Fortunate Lady’s Flower Symbol Timeline in Hayavadana

The timeline below shows where the symbol The Fortunate Lady’s Flower appears in Hayavadana. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 1
The Mind vs. The Body Theme Icon
Padmini spots a tree with beautiful flowers, called the Fortunate Lady ’s flower, and Kapila immediately dashes off to climb the tree and retrieve some of... (full context)
The Mind vs. The Body Theme Icon
Kapila returns with the Fortunate Lady ’s flowers. Padmini asks why the flowers are called that, and he explains that the... (full context)
Act 2
The Mind vs. The Body Theme Icon
...she reveals that she must do one other thing: say hello to the tree of the Fortunate Lady . (full context)
The Mind vs. The Body Theme Icon
Metatheatre and Storytelling Theme Icon
...song asking why one cannot love more than one person. They refer to Padmini as the Fortunate Lady , and the Bhagavata reveals that that tree now stands on the spot where it... (full context)