Throughout the play, trees often symbolize fertility and beauty. Because Shakuntala has spent her life lovingly tending the hermitage trees, she thinks of them like “sisters,” and their allure is often associated with her own. A certain favorite jasmine vine, entwined with a neighboring mango, catches her attention in Act 1, as she says: “The union of this tree and this jasmine has taken place at the most wonderful time—the jasmine is a young plant, covered in fresh blossoms, the mango has soft buds, and is ready for enjoyment…” Though Shakuntala hasn’t met the King yet, her personification of the two trees signals her openness to romance and marriage, giving hope to the spying Dusyanta. In Act 4, when Shakuntala departs from the hermitage, the gods of the trees offer her garments and jewels and utter a blessing, not only confirming Shakuntala’s sisterly bond with them, but symbolizing a fruitful marriage in the future.
Trees Quotes in Shakuntala
ANASUYA. Dear Shakuntala, here’s that jasmine you call Light of the Forest. She’s chosen the fragrant mango as her bridegroom. You’ve forgotten her.
SHAKUNTALA. Only when I forget myself. [Approaches the jasmine and gazes at it] The union of this tree and this jasmine has taken place at the most wonderful time—the jasmine is a young plant, covered in fresh blossoms, the mango has soft buds, and is ready for enjoyment…