Silence! The Court is in Session

by

Vijay Tendulkar

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Silence! The Court is in Session Themes

Themes and Colors
Performance and Self Expression Theme Icon
Women’s Roles in Society Theme Icon
Middle Class Status, Tradition, and Propriety  Theme Icon
Guilt and Innocence  Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in Silence! The Court is in Session, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.

Performance and Self Expression

Silence! The Court is in Session is a play within a play, as a group of amateur theatre actors (known as “Sonar Moti Tenement (Bombay) Progressive Association’s Mock Lawcourt”) assemble to present a mock-trial of “social importance” in order to spread “enlightenment.” On the day Silence! takes place, instead of presenting a pre-planned case, they decide to improvise, accusing one of their own, Leela Benare, of infanticide. Through this performance, a play-acted court…

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Women’s Roles in Society

Silence! The Court is in Session takes place in India during the mid 1900s, a time when women were entering the workforce but many people, men and women alike, still held traditional views of gender roles—men earned money and were allowed to move and behave independently, while women were relegated to domestic tasks like child-rearing. Silence! contains just two named female characters, Leela Benare, a single (but pregnant) teacher and independent spirit, and Mrs.

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Middle Class Status, Tradition, and Propriety

The characters that make up the cast of Silence! The Court is in Session are primarily middle-class working men and women. Although living comfortably, they are nonetheless obsessed with status, and much of the play involves the cast subtly fighting for superiority. This infighting is depicted as petty, and status as less important than solid values and a sense of right and wrong. Middle-class society is shown to be a restrictive trap. While it provides…

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Guilt and Innocence

The play is centered on a mock-trial, which, although ostensibly fictional, ends up prosecuting one of the actors, Benare, for a real “crime”—being an unwed mother. However, although the members of the mock-trial’s cast claim to be investigating a fabricated crime, they are genuinely concerned with law and order. The point of their mock-trial, which tours the countryside and generally is based on historical cases, is to bring causes of “social significance” to the…

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