When Sita met Belle: an Indian woman finds her voice through re-visioning fairy tales.
Chundhur, Sohani Natasha.
MetadataShow full item record
The dissertation comprises a creative component and a reflection paper. The creative component is a novella titled “When Sita Met Belle.” The novella engages with the Beauty and the Beast narrative written from an Indian woman’s perspective and set in a South African context. It draws upon the experiences of Sita from Tulsidasa’s Sri Ramacharitamanasa and Belle from Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve’s La Belle et la Bête, or Beauty and the Beast. Belle and Sita are alike in their voiceless qualities and experiences, which reverberate through the female characters in “When Sita Met Belle.” Each chapter is based on a different strand of the Beauty and the Beast narrative. The epigraphs from the Sri Ramacharitamanas create the overarching mood of Sita’s experiences in the creative component and connect with the Indian context of the piece. The reflection paper discusses the re-visioning of the Beauty and the Beast fairy tale from a modern feminist point of view incorporating elements from Sri Ramacharitamanasa. It explores the re-visioning of a fairy tale from a feminist angle, outlining previous re-visions of the Beauty and the Beast fairy tale, the contributions by Margaret Atwood and Angela Carter as writers who have influenced this re-vision, the contextualisation of the Beauty and the Beast narrative, the depiction of Sita and Belle in their relative stories, and the Disney treatment of fairy tales. Thereafter there is an explanation of my choices of re-visioning in the novella and a summary of the necessity of re-visioning fairy tales. The reflection paper comments on encouraging female agency lacking in the protagonists of Belle and Sita, and reveals how this is achieved through a re-vision. Of the two genders, only one can truly encapsulate and convey the female experience in a creative and positive expression. As both the fairy tale of Beauty and the Beast and the Hindu text of Sri Ramacharitamanasa are adaptable to the times, they offer the possibility of a re-vision which makes heroes of heroines.