In R.K. Narayan's book The Man-Eater of Malgudi, there exists a deep mythical structure. The story of the peaceful printer Nataraj who must overcome the demon-like Vasu is structured very much like a myth. As myths and spirituality are implicit in Hindu society, the world of Malgudi is full of mythical elements. To complement these mythical elements, comparisons and references are made to various Hindu myths throughout the book, which act as signposts to the significance of what is going on in the story itself. The myths referred to give us greater insight into the action and into the characters themselves, by showing us more subtle aspects of the story which are juxtaposed against the myths. In The Man-Eater of Malgudi, myths serve to shed light on what is really going on in the world of Malgudi.
The battle between Vasu and Nataraj is framed perfectly in the context of myth. The action that occurs in the novel bears many similarities to other myths that are either mentioned or alluded to, in particular the Ramayana and the myth of Bhasmasura. The structure of the story is the same as a myth, with the protagonist facing an unstoppable enemy who eventually meets his end by his own hand.
To complement the mythical structure of the book, many references and allusions are made to other myths. Sastri is the one who seems to be the most associated with the scriptures and ancient wisdom, and serves to link the myths with reality. Rangi is also an important figure in this respect, not only through her name (which means Krishna) and the role she plays in the "rescue" of Kumar, but also through her reference to the notion of Dharma. The notion of Dharma and it...
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...which occur throughout the story. Each reference gives an aspect of the story a new dimension by putting it against the framework of the myth. The world of Malgudi portrayed in the book is taken to a new level of meaning by the many mythical references and allusions made.
Narayan, R.K. The Man-Eater of Malgudi. London: Penguin Books, 1961.
Narayanan, Vasudha. "The Hindu Tradition" in World Religions: Eastern Traditions. Don Mills: Oxford University Press, 1996. Willard G. Oxtoby, ed.
Nath Sharan, Nagendra. A critical study of the works of R.K. Narayan. Delhi: Classical publishing co., 1993.
Sinha, U.P. Patterns of Myth and Reality, a study in R.K. Narayan's novels. Delhi: Sandharb publishers, 1988.
Venkateswaran, R.J. Dictionary of Bhagavad Gita. Delhi: Sterling publishers private ltd., 1991.
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