The Serpent and The Rope

Mythical Style in the Novel The Serpent and The Rope

Mythical Style in the Novel The Serpent and The Rope : As we consider the novels of Raja Rao and other writers, we find that they generally make use of myths and legends in the pages of their compositions. They use them in different ways and with different reasons. First of all, the use of myths is a literary method to organise material and give it some importance. Secondly, myths are used as digressive style of writing. He says, “The digressional method of story – telling is perhaps the oldest device in narrative literature.”

 The Serpent and The Rope 

Different Myths:

As we take the example of the present novel “The Serpent and the Rope”, we find Rama as the hero – narrator of the story. He is much learned, sensitive as well as an imaginative Indian who liked and loved the culture and traditions of India. He knew well the myths and legends not only of India but also of many other countries, both of the East and the West. It was his art to look at the parallels between them and link them with the past and the present, the East and the West in an easy manner. Meenakshi Mukherji says, “While on the one hand the novel contains the legends of Satyakama and the Budumekaye, or the retelling of Rama’s story every Saturday and the blessing it brings. On the other hand, it also contains the Chinese fable of Wang – Chu and Chang – yi and the tale of Tristan and Iseult.”

His Mythical Style:

After reading the story of the present novel “The Serpent and the Rope” and his other novels we find that he had made use of mythical style in a usual manner. There are also many myths which have been used as digressional technique. The most important myth is related to ‘Budumekaye’. In this myth we find the story of a young prince who was exiled by the plot of his step mother to the forest. When he was following a moving pumpkin, it struck against a rock and a beautiful princess came out of it. She led the prince to his good luck as a king. Raja Rao is expert in using the same style of myths. For example, Savithri was a princess by her birth and Rama met her. Savithri helped Rama to live a life of happiness and satisfaction.

The Myth related to Savithri:

“The Serpent And the Rope” contains the myth of Savithri who suddenly came into the life of Rama as a beautiful and loving princess. Though Rama was married to Madeleine, yet he made his physical contact with her for the sake of mutual as well as sexual pleasure. It is necessary to point out that “the name Savithri has an obvious symbolic significance for the Hindus. It is derived from the name of the Vedic Solar deity, Savithri, who stands for the quickening activity of the sun.” In the same way, the age – old ‘Gayatri Mantra’ is also called Savithri which is sung in the Morning Prayer by an orthodox Hindu in the morning. Savithri is also the name of a brave married lady in one of the stories of the ‘Mahabharata’. She was married to Satyavan, who was the son of a blind and exiled king. She had got life to her dead husband from Yama, the God of death. Savithri, the young lady of this novel also plays an important role in the life of Rama, the hero of this story.

The Myth related to Radha – Krishna:

Raja Rao also made use of the Myth of Radha – Krishna showing a regular parallel to the structure of the story of the novel. It has also the direct relationship with Rama and Savithri. Meenakshi Mukherji says, “Radha Krishna legend which forms the dominant motif in the relationship between Ramaswamy and Savithri, is an arch relationship between the seeker and the sought, the woman and her beloved, that has been used in India thousands of times in devotional songs, in ‘Vaishnava’ love lyrics in novels of sentimental love, and more recently in popular films.” 

In the present novel “The Serpent and the Rope” we find two male and female, Rama and Savithri represented as Radha and Krishna in their close relationship each other in the same way. Madeleine did not agree to Rama when he tried to touch her feet. The writer has used a myth in expressing the relationship between Rama and Savithri. Though Savithri was a modern Cambridge student, yet she said to Rama these words, “I wish you could sing me a song, and I would lie on your lap, far away where there is no land or road, no river.” Savithri performed some rites in Rama’s hotel room in London.


It is necessary to point out that Raja Rao made use of myths and legends in “The Serpent and the Rope” and his other novels. Such use of myths enriches and decorates his novel but they do not join the heterogeneous material of the novel. The unity in the novel is philosophical, not mythical. The myths and legends are part of Raja Rao’s characters.

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