Desire and self-representation: A philosophical reading of the Malayalam novelette "Agnisakshi"

Publication Type:

Journal Articles


Journal of Indian Council of Philosophical Research (2016)



<p>With the focus on the concepts of desire and self-representation, in this paper we present a philosophical analysis of the Malayalam novelette “Agnisakshi” by Lalithambika Antharjanam, which narrates the customs and taboos that existed in the Namboothiri community in Kerala in the early twentieth century. Through a method of narrative analysis supplemented by philosophical reflections, the study brings forth the living conditions of Brahmin women in the Namboothiri society in Kerala and their self-representations in the text. Engaging with the characters of the novelette, we discuss desire and agency in the light of the larger narrative of the text, and how the psychosocial factors influence them. One of the conclusions we arrive at, analysing the tensions between patriarchy and female individuality, is that it is important to understand the psychological formation of desires and its philosophical transformations. The study depicts desire and self-representation as two important concepts, and the understanding of the relation between them as crucial, in the formation of personal identity.</p>