One of the greatest sadnesses of married life for Mrs. A. was the loss of the lead role in a college production of the play Shakuntala. Mrs. A. identified closely with Shakuntala, a heroine whose story is typically told as an ethical narrative of recognition. Skanutala’s story is the most detailed and thoroughly explored myth in the case, and its moral lessons are part of a long history of establishing identities and ethics of reform in the midst of colonial rule, histories that shaped Mrs. A.’s own world and the social and political ideas available to her. But its dimensions also establish starkly gendered conditions for the ethical ideal of recognition. As Mrs. A. imagined life after marriage, she reimagined alternate versions of Shakuntala’s story, transforming a story of recognition into one containing the personal and political possibilities of non-recognition. She did so not through interpretation, but through a dancerly orientation that cast ethics as feeling, gesture, movement, play, and even artifice, reimagining not only the content of ethics, but the very form ethics might take.
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