Religious and Cultural Manipulation of Gender Roles in The Bull and the She Devil by Zeb Un Nisa Hameedullah
This paper attempts to study the exploitation of women that takes place in the rural areas of Pakistan in the name of cultural and religious norms. Its main focus is to do analysis of Zeb Un Nisa Hameedullah’s short story titled The Bull and the She Devil under the Lacanian psychoanalytic model delimited to the Mirror stage. The Mirror stage speculates that an individual recognizes himself in the mirror literally and figuratively. In the short story, Ghulam Qadir, the main character, sees himself in the mirror of his newlywed wife and recognizes his weakness. He projects his weaknesses that mainly surface up after his marriage. He does not realize his own shortcomings; rather he puts the entire blame of his failures upon his wife, Shirin, who is committed to her, and does not resist to him like a typical rural woman of Pakistan. The setting of the story locates the rural area of the Punjab province of Pakistan. Ghulam Qadir gives different labels to her and one of the harsh label he uses against Shirin is Devil. This term reveals the psyche of Ghulam Qadir who conceives his wife as a sign of bad happenings, murders her, and commits suicide in the end. The very term, foremost, reflects the inmost of the Pakistani rural men who hold absolute power in the family and misuse the religious and cultural norms just in order to extend their long established hierarchical structure where woman is mere a subject to them. This study reveals that males of the rural areas of Pakistan express their psychological frustration over women and allege them by taking refuge under the umbrella of religion.