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The Real Over The Metaphoric Representations of Sea

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The Real Over The Metaphoric Representations of Sea essay
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The sea is a beautiful site for those who love nature. It has been a source of creation for those who perceive it as an inspiration. But the creative inspiration has been a subject for a constant transformation over the decade in literature as well as in cinema. Hence, the sea that is used as a symbol or an image for endless creation touches upon multiple perspectives. The image of sea as a metaphor for romance became an archaic passion for the contemporary literary personalities and film makers who find the sea as an image of marginalized and waves that hits the shore as their unending problems. Therefore, the dissertation aims to capture the transformation of sea as a literary image and seaside as a creative location for cinema.


This part presents a brief introduction about Earnest Hemingway, an American writer, his life and his writings. It gives a detailed analysis of his Nobel Prize (1954) winning novella The Old Man and the Sea (1952) to show how Hemingway tries to present himself as a modernist with his critical use of sea as a metaphor to human will power . this part offers a brief introduction about the life and works of Thakazhi Sivasankara Pillai. It introduces Malayalam literature especially the growth of novel as a front runner among other genres. It takes Sivasankara Pillai’s novel Chemmeen as a critical device to analyse how the author’s original intention to portray the economic status of fisher folk have turned into a mere romantic writing.

This part takes two Tamil Movies, Neerparavai and Kadal directed by Seenu Ramasamy and Mani Ratnam respectively. It shows how the image of sea has transformed from a romantic metaphor to realism that offers the true nature of coastal region. Besides, the chapter describes how the impact of Tsunami has become a source for the creative inspiration for the contemporary movie makers who capture the reality behind sea.


This part focuses on the place of Ernest Hemingway and his work The Old Man and the Sea has in American Literature. His novella could be placed in nautical fiction genre. Nautical Fiction could be in any genre like Novel, Fiction, Novella and Short Story are related to Sea or a story with the setting in Sea or nearby Sea. The relationship between the sea and sea voyages and the culture in these environments are highlighted here. The adventure and experience of the author, heroes are reflected in their works. The setting of the Sea fiction and novels included merchant ships, naval ships, fishing, vessels, life boats, skiff, canoe Sea Port and Sea Shore villages.Ernest Miller Hemingway’s imagination combines his travel, adventure and his personal experiences. This could be seen in his novels and short stories on war and sport.Many writers wrote such novels from their previous experiences and Old Man and the Sea must be placed within this tradition. In his early age in France, he explored schooner and ships departing and arriving, and got interest in travel and adventure. Twenty thousand leagues under the Sea: An underwater Tour of the World a novel by Verne is description of Nemo’s (also known as Prince Dakkar) ship, called the Nautilus, which was considered ahead of its time. He accurately described features of submarines, which at the time, were very primitive vessels. The novel, Voyage a reculons en angleterreet en Ecosse (Backwards to Britain) tells the story of two Frenchmen, Jacques and Jonathan and their journey from Paris to Scotland. Invasion of the Sea is an historical novel by Verne. It describes the exploits of Barber nomads and European travellers in Saharan Africa. The plan to create an inland sea in Saharan desert and finally the earth quake results in the natural calamity in the Sea.

John Steinbeck, Tom Clancy, Sebastian Junger, James Fenimore Cooper, Frederick Marryat, Melville, Conrad, C.S. Forester, Patrick, O’ Brian and Maturin are some of the other writers who wrote about their experience in the voyages and travels. They focus on adventure and masculinity, investigations of social hierarchies and psychological struggle of the individual in the hostile environment at the sea. Fennimore Cooper influenced the French Novelist, Joseph Marie Eugenee Sue and Alexander Dumas made no secret of his admiration for Cooper when he write Le Capitaive pal. Jean Antoine Rene Edward Corbiere had written many maritime novels like Les Pilotes de I’Iroise and Le Negrier and aventures de mar.

Ernest Hemingway’s experiences were reflected his writings, like his participation in World War I and II, fishing, hunting and hand wrestling. He asserts his experiences gave him a sprit by stating that “One of the major subjects and certainly one of the hardest to truly of”. His participation in the World War reflected in A Farewell to Arms and For Whom the Bell Tolls and his hunting trip reflected in the Green Hills of Africa. His experiences gave him, an adventures sprit to write the novel like The Old Man and the Sea. Before composing The Old man and the Sea, apart from his experiences to create an art with adventure, Hemingway might have read Moby Dick, the poetry of Whitman, Thor Heyerdahl’s Kon-Tiki and books like Carson’s The Sea Around Us and Under the Sea Wind. In The Old Man and the Sea, the struggle is primary and the problem of right and wrong occupies secondary place. Human life is here represented as a struggle against the unconquerable forces of the world in which a kind of victory is nevertheless possible. In this respect the mood of this novel differ greatly from that of the pessimism and despair of the earlier works of Hemingway. Hemingway here shows a reverence for life’s struggle and for mankind. Here portrays a simple man who is capable of an extraordinary dignity and heroism by means of which he wins a moral triumph in the midst of what is otherwise a heart-breaking defeat.

His experiences on fishing, hunting, and bull fighting and experiences in the World Wars initiated him to write such adventure in with will power as metaphor to the sea. In this novel, Hemingway gave power of the old man (Human) ‘will power’ even though, the vast sea represents as limited. So, Hemingway’s experiences reflected in his writings as art in fishing, bull fighting and hunting. Therefore, he was not involved in highlighting the concern of the fisher folk and he merely created an art out of them.


This part focuses on the place of Thakazhi Sivasankara Pillai and his ‘Chemmeen’ in Malayalam literature within the context of representing the sea life in literature. English and European literature spread across the Indian subcontinent in various genres. By the way, the serenity of nature and high literacy rate, Kerala (God’s own country) stands with certain unique features in the vernacular literatures too. Malayalam is a poetic language and each successive generation has added its own contribution in Malayalam literature. There are so many writers who made the language rich with their works in various fields. In Malayalam literature almost all the genres were influenced either by the western or by Sanskrit literature. This could be seen in Drama, Kathakali, Thullal, Translation, Screen play, Short Story, Novel, Prose, Travelogue, Biography, Autobiography, Poems (lyrics and Kanda kavya) and Criticism.

Thakazhi’s plan to write Chemmeen for long days but for the protest against the writer he waits for a while. He had an experience from his childhood and dialects

from the age of nine in the beaches of Kerala. The novel helped him to build his dream house. In the year 1955, there was a protest in Dev and Thakazhi’s time inMalayalam literature about the difficult problem of maintaining structural sanctity.Thakazhi didn’t much suffered as Dev. If he had suffered he might have change theme in his writing.

Some leaders of the fisherman community accused him of presenting their life and language in an ungainly fashion. And some progressive attacked what they claimed was a blatant build – up of superstition, namely the myth that the sea goddess would take away the husband of any fisherwoman who transgressed. The accusation and Thakazhi’s explanations continued much after the novel was written and published. Thakazhi has written Chemmeen in just eight days and it was translate by Narayana Menon and Anita Nair.

Thakazhi was become careful while insisting the social needs not as a propagandist need for reformation through revolution. Thakazhi is able to weave the fabric of imaginative element in an artistic manner highlighting the human values.

Thakazhi artistically pictures the social and class struggle in a colourful manner. The peasant community was emerging into organized class struggle to make and achieve their demands. Thus Randidangazhi shows a link with Tottiyude Makan. Thakazhi is careful in paying equal attention to the portrayal of human attention, emotions and attachments through the love-plot and romance appears through this work. Thus Thakazhi is not only presenting the changing social realism in the wake of transition but also he presents the individual personal relationship and attachment between the master, servant and lover relationship existed during the former times

Chemmeen has become a classic because of its balanced narrative of a love story blending with the myth of fisher folk and their struggle in the realistic socio-political scenario. The inter-religious love story of Pareekutty and Karuthamma tightens the struggle and makes more tension. Chemmeen (1956) is the novel set in the sea shore huts on Ambalapuzha and Thirukunnapuzha. Fisherman`s day to day life and struggle, eternal fate, love, poverty, customs, taboos, rituals, culture, tradition, the women’s situation in the coastal area’s and their aspirations, are mellifluously portrayed by Thakazhi. Among the fisher folk community the belief of woman being infidel and losing her chastity while her husband being away in the seas are the taboos which cannot be considered to have any relaxation from their norms and customs. And they believe woman loses her chastity the Kadalamma or Kadalammai (The Sea Goddess) will ruin all the fisher folk community.

Karuthamma, a daughter of Hindu fisherman, Chembankunju and Pareekutty, a young Muslim trader fall in love. Chembankunju’s only aim is to buy a boat and net.

After buying the first boat, with the help of Pareekutty, his greed increases. Since he owes Pareekutty, he was supposed to pay him back by selling the fish in his boat, being that is the deal between them. In fact Pareekutty helped Chembankunju because of Karuthamma. At one stage Chakki, Karuthamma’s mother warns her by telling the strict traditions, which was inherited through generations. Chakki often instructs Karuthamma how a fisherwoman should be and how to follow the tradition.

When the fisherman rows through waves and currents and disappears in the horizon, his wife should wait for him in the seashore, preserving her fidelity and chastity. Chakki instructs Karuthamma that if the sea mother pleases on us then she gives us gold but it she hates then she would shed devastation upon and ruins them. Chakki imparted a great truth to her daughter that Virtue is the most important thing that is purity of body and mind. A fisherman’s wealth is his fisher woman’s virtue

Karuthamma sacrifices her love on Pareekutty and marries Palani, an orphan found in the sea by Chembankunju’s one of the expedition. Following the marriage,

Karuthamma accompanies her husband village. Meanwhile Pareekutty sings a melody song in the evening time which arouses his emotions to the peak and that reflects his love for the lost beloved. Later, one day Karuthamma comes back to her home to look after her sick mother

Chembankunju, being a greedy man disowns his wife and his only motive is to buy one more boat. Also, since Chembankunju did not pay the debt to Pareekutty, he is pushed into bankruptcy. After the death of his wife, he marries Pappikunju, the widow. From her he inherits one more boat too. Panchami, Chembankunju’s second daughter and on arrival of step mother, she leaves to her sister’s house. Karuthamma has endeavored to be a good wife and mother with mind and body. But the scandal spread through Palani about her old love between Karuthamma and Pareekutty.

Palani’s friends ostracize him and refuse to take fishing with them. By the stroke of fate Karuthamma and Pareekutty meet one night and their old love is consummated. Palani, at sea alone and baiting a shark, is caught in a huge whirlpool and is swallowed by the sea. Their sudden consummation of love proves the extremity of desire, and its power to lead one to shed their staunch beliefs and fears on the taboos which are acculturated in one’s psyche.

Thakazhi’s works focus on social issues and we could see the socialist language in Thotiyude Makan, whereas, in Chemmeen, he projects the economic positions of the fisher folk and did not focus on the other problems of the sea side and he used the modernist language in the novel. By using the modernist language, Thakazhi tries to establish himself as a modernist through his enduring classic Chemmeen.


This part analyses importance of the seaside issues and how they have been circulated in the public sphere in the last two decades. The International Maritime Boundary line and Exclusive Economic Zone are maintained for professionals and business. Each country has a boundary for fishing. If the fishermen cross their boundary then the security force of the other country will attack the fishermen. The natural calamities such as cyclone, tsunami and monsoon also weaken the sea shore people. These issues came to the forefront only in the recent times.

Literature and cinema represent these issues of seaside fisher folk. Many movies in the recent years have highlighted how the folk suffer in socio, economic, political and geographical aspects. The movies represent the life of sea folk in the past aimed at making an art but they did not concentrate or showed interest in the real issues. The movies and works in literature are created for art not for recognizing the voices of the shore or struggles of the shore. Unlike the earlier creations, nowadays cinema and literature represent voices of the shore and their struggles. This type of representation of seaside fisher folk is vibrant in the recent Tamil movies. Though Malayalam, Bengali and other Indian language movies represent the life of fisher folk, they are not able represent the views of activists. They merely portray the life of the sea shore people to produce creative arts. But the realistic movies in Tamil movies carry the activist tone and perspective.

In Tamil cinema, many movies are made for the revenue purpose. During the last decade many young directors made films with social awareness such as identity

politics, social justice, struggle of a common man, women issues, religious, class, caste and gender issues. They choose such themes and plot of the movies. This could be seen for instance, in movies like, Angadi Theru, Mariyan, Kadal, Neerparavai and Irudhi Suttru which form the genre of social cinema. With this realistic mode Indian cinema grows across the globe. In this way, Tamil cinema highlights the issues, facilitating a fresh consideration of the existing body of scholarship on Indian cinema.

In Kadal movie, through the protagonist, Thomas, highlights the struggle faced by the fisher-folk people. It is shown that the Christian missionaries work for the seaside people. The church is directly connected with the day to day activities of people and solves the problems of fisher folk. The church functions almost like a community welfare centre. The story and Screenplay writer of Kadal, Jeyamohan states to The Hindu that the script was “deeply philosophical and spiritual”, “but it has been narrated in an entertaining way, complete with songs and captivating frames.” Kadal is a struggle between the good and evil and is set in the sea side of south India. The movie screens how the Mesakaaran controls the fisherman and the son kills his own father. Selling fish through auction on the shore and following the church rules with words of Father and Bishop. Thomas is an illegitimate son of local fisher man and he becomes an orphan once his mother died. His father and step mother will not allow them to stay and be grown up in his own way. Meanwhile, Thomas leads by two different ways -good (Sam Fernando) and bad (Bergmans).

In Neerparavai (2012) a young couple’s (Anthony and his wife) visit to their ancestral village to meet Esther (Nandita Das), who lives alone in her home, by looking forward the restless sea. Her son Anthony needs money but she refuses to sell her home on the excuse that her husband, who went out to sea twenty five years ago, has still not returned and she won’t leave until he does. The couple noticed that Esther prays in the garden in front of the house. The next day morning soon after the Esther goes to shore for prayer the couple dig the place where she was prayed the last night. They found skeleton and police arrested Esther.

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THE REAL OVER THE METAPHORIC REPRESENTATIONS OF SEA. (2019, April 10). GradesFixer. Retrieved January 27, 2022, from
THE REAL OVER THE METAPHORIC REPRESENTATIONS OF SEA. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 27 Jan. 2022].
THE REAL OVER THE METAPHORIC REPRESENTATIONS OF SEA [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2019 Apr 10 [cited 2022 Jan 27]. Available from:
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