Amity Institute of English Studies and Research, Kolkata
Amity University Kolkata, India
Bijan Bhattacharya (1917-1978) and Arthur Miller (1915-2005) were contemporaries, living continents away. The former in Calcutta, India, and the latter in New York, the United States of America. When these literary artists were writing, both the geographical spaces (cities) were affected by the Second World War, and were trying their best to recuperate from its aftermath. The setting of Bhattacharya’s Bangla/ Bengali play Jatugriha or The House of Lac (1959; translation of the title, mine) and Miller’s Death of a Salesman (1949) is essentially urban. The city is seen as a space constructed by the human ‘culture’ which they call ‘civilization’ (the growth of their superiority-complex) and consequently the city-folk have actively distanced themselves from nature and their fellow non-human organisms. Going by the new generation of ecocritical thought, this article regards the fact that nature and (human) culture are constructed by their mutual selves and cannot exist without one another. The article looks at the state of the characters in both the plays, in their boxed-up city existence. How they are alienated from their fellow-human beings and from their own selves, residing in a physical environment that is all about running after technological advancement, making-money, stunted spiritual, moral or personal growth, lack of ambition, disintegration of mythical dreams and so on. The city-folk seem to have banned nature from their lives but do they, in some way, crave for it? Does nature really make its presence felt in the ‘concrete jungle’, or in the psyche/memory of the characters who thrive in that ‘jungle’? The article seeks to find answers to questions like these in the chosen texts, and notices the ways in which these two texts could be brought closer to one another and could be considered to resemble each other – breaking the apparent cultural, linguistic or spatial differences that they display, in the first glance.
Keywords: Ecocriticism, city, ecology, Arthur Miller, Bijan Bhattacharya, Calcutta
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Ecology within the City-space?: Bijan Bhattacharya’s Jatugriha and Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman