Shakuntala

by

Kalidasa

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Trees Symbol Icon

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

The Shakuntala quotes below all refer to the symbol of Trees. 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:
The Natural World, The Body, and Spiritual Beauty Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Oxford University Press edition of Shakuntala published in 2008.
Act 1 Quotes

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…

Related Characters: Shakuntala (speaker), Anasuya (speaker)
Related Symbols: Trees
Page Number: 12
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Shakuntala LitChart as a printable PDF.
Shakuntala PDF

Trees Symbol Timeline in Shakuntala

The timeline below shows where the symbol Trees appears in Shakuntala. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 1
The Natural World, The Body, and Spiritual Beauty Theme Icon
Duty vs. Love Theme Icon
Prophecies and Curses Theme Icon
Concealment and Separation Theme Icon
...to his driver that it’s obvious they’re near the holy groves—the deer stroll unafraid, the trees are well tended, and the smoke of sacrificial ghee (clarified butter used in rituals) drifts... (full context)
The Natural World, The Body, and Spiritual Beauty Theme Icon
Concealment and Separation Theme Icon
...away, the King sees some hermitage girls going to the sacred grove to water the trees. He hides himself in the shadows to observe the “charming sight.” It’s Shakuntala, with her... (full context)
The Natural World, The Body, and Spiritual Beauty Theme Icon
Concealment and Separation Theme Icon
As Shakuntala waters a mango tree, Priyamvada remarks that “with you next to it, that tree looks as though it’s been... (full context)
The Natural World, The Body, and Spiritual Beauty Theme Icon
Shakuntala then approaches the jasmine tree she has named Light of the Forest. Gazing at it, she tells the other girls,... (full context)
Act 4
The Natural World, The Body, and Spiritual Beauty Theme Icon
Prophecies and Curses Theme Icon
...hermit women shower Shakuntala with blessings. They also adorn her with ornaments which the forest trees have miraculously provided: “It was a tree itself spun this moon-white cloth / […] And... (full context)
The Natural World, The Body, and Spiritual Beauty Theme Icon
Duty vs. Love Theme Icon
Prophecies and Curses Theme Icon
Concealment and Separation Theme Icon
The trees of the forest bless Shakuntala, and she and Kanva share an emotional farewell. As Shakuntala... (full context)
Act 6 
The Natural World, The Body, and Spiritual Beauty Theme Icon
Duty vs. Love Theme Icon
Concealment and Separation Theme Icon
...“mind and . . . soul are fresh impaled” at the sight of the mango tree. He sits in the jasmine bower, where the vines remind him of Shakuntala. Sanumati hides... (full context)