The Ramayana

The Ramayana 9. Ravana in Council Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
A divine architect rebuilds Ravana's city, which greatly pleases Ravana. He admires his new city in his council hall for a while, and then orders everyone but his brothers to leave. Ravana addresses his brothers and asks for their advice as to what to do next. Ravana's commander-in-chief says that it's not heroic to abduct a woman while her husband is gone. He goes on to list Rama and Lakshmana's military victories and says that dealing with Rama and Lakshmana first would've been the best plan, but at this point the only thing to do is to go out and kill Rama and Lakshmana before Lanka suffers more destruction.
Even though it's obvious that Ravana will soon face a great battle, he remains focused on maintaining the material aspects of his power. Interestingly, Ravana's commander-in-chief is willing to suggest that Ravana isn't behaving honorably. This act of introspection creates the sense that even though these characters are aligned with an evil character, that doesn't mean that they themselves are fully evil. They have a sense of right and wrong; they're just aligned with the wrong leader.
Themes
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Other commanders rise and say that because Ravana is so powerful, they should ignore the monkeys and instead wait for Rama to bring the fight to Lanka. Ravana's brother Kumbakarna gets up and says again that Ravana has done horrible deeds by taking another man's wife, and the only thing to do now, since they're so deep in this conflict, is to either win or die trying to win. At this, Ravana seems pleased and calls for the armies.
Even Ravana's own brother shows that he's not entirely unfeeling or amoral; he recognizes that Ravana has violated codes of conduct by abducting Sita. He, however, feels that now they've begun this fight, they're duty-bound to finish it. Because it fits in with his own desires, Ravana appreciates this line of reasoning.
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Indrajit insists that Ravana not take the trouble of using armies, and should instead let him singlehandedly kill Rama and Lakshmana. Finally, Vibishana stands up and sadly asks Ravana to listen to him. He reminds Ravana that Ravana acquired his power through spiritual sacrifices, but says that Ravana has since misused his power. He asks if anyone has been able to subjugate the gods forever, and insists that Ravana should worry about Rama and Hanuman, since Ravana's downfall is supposed to come from a monkey. Finally, Vibishana implores Ravana to understand that Rama is an incarnation of a god and asks him to release Sita.
Again, Vibishana shows the reader that pure good can exist among evil. Vibishana crystallizes the idea that good and evil are choices, and he suggests that Ravana not only has had the choice to do good in the past, but can still make the choice to do the right thing. Vibishana understands that Ravana should expect his downfall if he continues on this path of evil. When he asks Ravana to consider the consequences, it recalls Rama talking Lakshmana out of acting rashly and aligns Vibishana with Rama.
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Ravana berates Vibishana for saying that Rama is powerful, and insists that the gods can't curse him. Ravana insists that he's not afraid of an incarnation of Vishnu since Vishnu has been defeated many times, and Ravana calls for his armies. When Vibishana again tries to convince Ravana to abandon his cause, Ravana asks where Vishnu was when Ravana was subjugating the other gods and claiming the worlds as his own.
Ravana is beyond reason; he is unable to see anything but his own power, and he's unwilling to accept how he got that power in the first place. This suggests that Ravana's power is corrupting him and making him blind to the truth of the situation. It also blinds him to the story's logic, which says he'll be punished for this.
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Vibishana argues with Ravana again the next day, and Ravana finally banishes Vibishana. Ravana insists that Vibishana wants Lanka to be destroyed. Vibishana agrees to leave and apologizes to Ravana for hurting his feelings before he crosses the ocean to Rama's camp.
Even when Ravana is treating Vibishana horribly, Vibishana behaves honorably and kindly by apologizing for any hurt feelings. This continues to develop Vibishana's character as an overwhelmingly good and dutiful one.
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