The Glass Palace by Amitav Ghosh

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Amitav Ghosh weaves the character of Queen Supayalat from the history of Burma. She was the daughter of King Mindon Min and Queen of Alenandaw and the last queen of Burma who reigned in Mandalay (1878–1885). She was married to her half-brother, Thibaw, the last king of the Konbaung dynasty. She was considered as vindictive, unforgiving and an imperious woman. She never regarded herself beholden to the British as she believed that they robbed her of her kingdom with all the wealth and riches therein. She stands against the powerful British Empire even after her exile. She becomes popular for planning and massacring eighty-ninety potential heirs to the throne of Burma. She is vicious and also frivolous. Her quest to follow traditions gives her the strength to defy the mighty British. Despite of her diminished tittle, she continues to demand that all visitors and foreigners Shiko her in the manner prescribed by royal custom. Visitors were expected to walk in and seat themselves on low chairs around Her Highness, with no words of greetings being uttered on either side. This was the Queen's way of preserving the spirit of Mandalay protocol: since the representatives of the British were adamant in their refusal to perform the Shiko, she in turn made a point of not acknowledging their entry in her presence (106). She never surrendered to the demands of the British and finally became the reason for the fall of the Burmese Empire and the Anglo-Burmese war that followed. “The Queen had prevailed and the Burmese court had fused to yield to the British ultimatum" (22).

Queen Supayalat stands as a strong character throughout The Glass Palace. Once or twice a year the Queen would ride out with her daughters, her face a white m...

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...hey could serve as a binding thread. During their exile the Queen is heavily pregnant with her third child. Blessed with a daughter instead of a son, as expected by her, the Queen feels that a girl is better than a boy during exile. The four princesses are very closely associated with Dolly whom they know from their childhood. They

Works Cited

• Simon de Beauvoir,’ The Second Sex,’ Oxford Press, London, 1949.

• Khair, Tabish. Amitav Ghosh: A Critical Companion. Delhi: Permanent Black, 2003

• Rakhee Moral, “In Time of the Breaking of Nations The Glass Palace as Post-Colonial Narrative” Amitav Ghosh: Critical Perspectives ed. Brinda Bose (New Delhi: Pencraft International, 2003)152.

• R. Mokashi Punekar, “Repositioning Borders: A Reading of The Glass Palace ” Critical Practice. Vol. X, No.1, Jan.2003, 52-58.


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