Female Heroism and Folktales: Analysing the Social Construction of Hero in the Middle Ages through Select Kashmiri Folktales
Keywords:Kashmiri Folktales, The Tale of a Princess, All for a Pansa, Azad Bakht’s Tale, The Tale of the Goldsmith
Heroism is typically tied to gender in the sociology of heroism that views male as the bearer of physical prowess. The female gender is excluded from the debate of heroism and is regarded as belonging to the domestic world. A similar orientation is visible in literature of the middle ages where the public sphere is masculine, and a private, domestic sphere is feminine. Scholars have perceived the conventional focus on men's heroism as a hurdle to be overcome in academic discourse. The present paper is an attempt to address this problem via the medium of Kashmiri folktales. The paper adopts an interdisciplinary approach and performs content analyses of four Kashmiri folktales, viz., The Tale of a Princess, All for a Pansa,Azad Bakht’s Tale,and The Tale of the Goldsmith,the exact dates of whose genesis are unknown, and which can be as ancient as humankind itself. This study deconstructs the social construction of a hero, i.e., the image of a hero as formulated by sociologists, and progresses towards female heroism, wherein a female undertakes heroic actions and demonstrates endurance. This paper shows that the Kashmiri folktales expose us to a type of female figure who survived the Middle Ages, shattered the gendered patterns of heroism, and acted autonomously.
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