Importance of the Eunuchs in Elizabeth Inchbald’s The Mogul Tale Essay

Importance of the Eunuchs in Elizabeth Inchbald’s The Mogul Tale Essay

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Importance of the Eunuchs in Elizabeth Inchbald’s The Mogul Tale

The eunuch is an integral part of the 18th century play The Mogul Tale, by Elizabeth Inchbald. He serves a historical role by being the Mogul’s advisor, watchman, and, most importantly, harem guard. Eunuchs are generally defined as castrated males and are thus excellent choices to guard the Mogul’s women – no fear of the guard taking the ladies for himself. Inchbald reinforces these noble positions by showing the eunuch as the Mogul’s “right-hand man”. But with the passing of time these traditional roles have died along with the people who embraced them. Eunuchs now exist in an India that has all but forgotten their position as protectors. They are now part of a larger, marginalized group that exists on the fringe of Indian society - the hijras1.

Hijras include such minorities as eunuchs, hermaphrodites, transvestites, transsexuals, and homosexuals and “literally means neither male nor female”2. Most hijras undergo a secretive castration operation as part of their religious rites. Because of this secrecy it is unknown as to the exact number of hijras in India. They are described, and describe themselves, as the “ ‘third sex’ – somewhere inbetween and beyond male or female”3. They see themselves as existing inside and above society. Even so, theirs is a day-to-day existence.

Hijras make their money one of three ways: as beggars, as entertainers at traditional ceremonies, and as prostitutes. As beggars hijras are aggressive. Three to four will confront individuals, clapping and making hand gestures. If they are given money, they extend bountiful blessings of fortune and fertility to the giver and his family line. But if they are...

... middle of paper ...

...oduction of Hijras in Comtemporary Indian Politics.” Social Research
v70.1 (spring 2003): 163(39). (Reddy 181)
6 Reddy 165
7 Reddy 176
8 Butalia 5
9 Reddy 177
10 Reddy 164
11 “In from the Outside: India’s Long Mistreated Eunuchs are Teaming Up to Demand
Equal Rights and Better Health Care.” Time International v156.11 (Sept 18,
2000): 25. (In from the Outside 25)
12 Allahbadia and Shah 49
13 Allahbadia and Shah 49
14 Slijper, Froukje M.E. “Neither Man nor Woman: The Hijras of India.” Archives of
Sexual Behavior v26 n4 (Aug 1997): 450(4). (Slijper 452)
15 Pimlott 46
16 Pimlott 47
17 “In from the Outside” 25
18 Allahbadia and Shah 48
19 Reddy 166
20 Reddy 164
21 Reddy 166
22 “In from the Outside” 25
23 Reddy 178-9
24 Reddy 166
25 Reddy 164
26 Reddy 167-8
27 Reddy 170

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