Theme of Solitude in The Novel The Guide

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      Solitude is not the main theme of The Guide. It is only a sub-theme insofar as all the characters in the novel pass a certain period of solitude in their life. Raju’s mother is separated from her son and longs to see him until her death. Raju passes the last phase of life in solitude as a sadhu. Marco and Rosie are the main solitudes in the novel. Both Marco and Rosie are cases of extreme type: if Marco was whole-heartedly devoted to scholastic pursuits, Rosie was wholly devoted to dancing. In their life, sex had no place. They are abstractions of their ambitions.

      Marco married Rosie to help her rise in social esteem. She was the daughter of a Devadasi. Her community did not enjoy status. Women of Rosie’s family were public women; therefore it was always difficult for a Devadasi to get a husband of some standing. A true scholar like Marco alone would choose her as his wife. She was aware of this obligation and she made no secret of it in the same manner as Marco never forgot to mention this fact. But the feeling that he had obliged Rosie by marrying her was so obsessive in Marco that he could not accept her as his equal and she also felt inferior to him in spite of her being an M.A. in Economics. Marco never liked nor did he ever encourage Rosie to become a dancer. She found in Raju an admirer and later promoter of her desire to pursue the career of a dancer.

      Once Rosie perfected her art, she gained as much status in society as Marco did in the field of scholarship. Rosie and Marco were two poles apart. What brought them together was their marriage. To use Raju’s words, if Rosie was a ‘serpent woman’, Marco was ‘a monster’. They had no warmth that husband and wife need to make a congenial couple. Rosie was obsessed with her ambition to be a dancer and more she showed it the more he hated her for it. Despite her education, she also was unable to appreciate her husband’s devotion to his profession. He expected from her understanding, mature behaviour and capacity to live independently. She expected from him attention to her womanhood and ambition. She also expected from him sex. That is why they clashed almost every night. In frustration he began to devote his time more and more to frieze-gazing in the caves and she sulked more and more. It was at this stage that Raju entered their life and changed the course of events. He won away Rosie’s affection and warmth and became the victim of Marco’s jealousy along with Rosie.

      Marco abandoned Rosie behind while leaving Malgudi giving her full freedom to choose her future and himself preferred to live alone. Rosie sought the help of Raju to establish herself as a dancer, but once she stood on her feet, she did not care for Raju. Her major interest was her career and the physical side of her relationship with Raju had just no significance. She did not want to be a circus woman, she loved dancing for the sake of art. During the last phase of her life, she also settled in Madras. Both Marco and Rosie had begun their careers from Malgudi and collected experience bitter enough to keep away from each other for the whole life. They returned to Madras still as husband and wife but separated from each other.

      Both Marco and Rosie were honest about their feelings. Marco was secretive but was straightforward in his dealings. He liked honesty, efficiency and hated treachery and narrow outlook. He gave full freedom to Rosie and never questioned her movements till she proved to be physically disloyal to him. His honesty was so strong a quality that it would not allow him to keep with him Rosie’s jewellery when he had been living away from her. On the other hand, Rosie also was sincerely devoted to her husband despite her obligation to Raju and her physical relationship with him. She never accepted him as a substitute for her husband. She remembered Marco affectionately and always blamed herself for the disharmony of her family life. At several occasions she made Raju suspicious about her love for Marco. Her love for Marco was absolute. She did not like Raju’s hiding her husband’s book at all. She lost her sympathy for Raju when he forged her signature and thereby exposed him as a hypocritical, greedy man. She found Raju no better than Marco; Marco was honest but indifferent to her, whereas Raju was loving but dishonest. Both Marco and Raju, her husband and lover, failed to qualify themselves for her. If one shut his eyes to her youth and beauty, the other did to her principles.

      Thus both the characters have to pass through a span of solitude. Rosie and Marco were cursed to live separately, but so was Raju to live his isolated life in the shrine on the bank of the Sarayu.

University Questions

Discuss the theme of solitude in The Guide,
Show how far Rosie and Marco are the two solitudes in the novel.

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