Submitted to Ms. Tope as part of the requirements for CL 241
This Indian epic epitomizes the culture, beliefs, and philosophy espoused by its people during its time. More importantly, it centers in on certain ideals that culture during its time holds dear – Rama as a man and husband, Sita as woman and wife, and Lakshmana as servant – as they face less than idyllic situations that test their mettle and morality.
The heroics of Rama throughout the epic will never be put into question by readers. It is through the destruction of the demons in the hands of Rama and Lakshmana that allows them to recognize their destiny of deliverance that is consummated at the end of the story. However, Rama’s submission to the wishes of Kaikeyi to be banished in the forest for 14 years and his refusal to return to the kingdom even when the boon was lifted by Kaikeyi’s son Bharati not only speaks greatly of Rama’s dedication to complete the boon in its original terms, but also of his responsibility as an obedient son to his father Dasharatha.
Sita displays qualities that paint her as the ideal wife by refusing to leave Rama even during his time of exile in the forest. We see more of this when Sita refused the offer by Hamunan to be carried off from the clutches of Ravana because she wanted her husband Rama to personally free her. Her refusal to be touched by other men becomes an even more significant plot device when Sita survives the test of fire unscathed, proving her purity and devotion to Rama.
Although some of the lessons and morals inherent in the story may seem outdated and questionable by today’s standard, no one will deny how the characters and the values present in Ramayana remain influential in different parts of the world even today.