The animus is an archetype of the unconscious mind, coined by Carl Jung, whereby a male part of the self is inherent in a woman. The woman can either accept this masculine personality or fight against it (where it becomes a repressed Shadow); nonetheless, it is always there in the unconscious and the woman cannot avoid it.
Kaliyuga: Age of Darkness (unfinished manuscript by this writer) is an alien-horror story set in modern India where a demon race of shape-shifting extraterrestrials called the Bhuta want to take over the world by destroying humanity.
This essay will examine the animus in the female character Ratchia, a famous Bollywood actress.
First, Ratchia is haunted by the negative aspects of the masculine trait. The lust-filled, aggressive animus seems to be everywhere and she cannot avoid its impact on her psyche.
Take the scene where Suchin, her husband, first meets her in the coffee shop: ‘Ratchai staggered into the Sugar Cafe on Tata Road, Bollywood, aware of all the eyes that had been staring at her on the street. The café was crowded, mostly men, and there were more eyes, full of lust, penetrating.’
In the street scene, Ratchia witnesses a rape that could be a figment of her imagination: ‘Down an alleyway, there was a half-naked, bleeding woman with her clothes torn. She was bent over some steps and three men were surrounding her, their faces horrid, snarling.’
Then, later in the same scene, the animus continues to haunt Ratchia: ‘a scruffy man with greasy hair, stubble on his chin, and large groggy eyes was sitting on a stool, a carving knife swinging by his side. As he sneered at her, he raised the knife and drew it across his throat.’
This animus appears only to be happening in Ratchia’s mind. Her husband, Suchin, refers to the rape scene as illusionary when he says: ‘You’re imagining things.’
The battle with the animus appears to be with herself, not really with what is happening in the world around her, imaginary or not. This is alluded to in a conversation with Suchin in the coffee shop when Ratchia is talking about killing a male character in one of her movies. Suchin asks if she, the killer, hates the man and she replies, ‘No ... I think she hates herself.’ This is a clear indication that Rachia’s battle is with her psyche, not really with the world around her.
Further, in an attempt to block out the animus, Ratchia becomes stiff and cold, imprisoned in a shell. For instance: ‘She sat at a table and shuddered in her chair, looking straight ahead, her eyes distant and void.’
Signs of the animus perambulate around Ratchia. First, she sees a skull at the foot of her bed: ‘the dark eye sockets staring at her, the mouth twisted and warped.’ Later, the skull returns just before her accident: ‘a shape began to form in front of her: a skull, glaring white.’ The skull is like a ghost, trapped between the physical and spiritual world, which is really a symbol of Ratchia herself, trapped between what is real and what isn’t.
Also, the sky around Ratchia is usually misty or grey, as in: 'Outside, it was a grey, overcast morning in Bombay’; ‘Clouds that covered the hills had crept into town and made the streets misty.’ And, just before her accident: ‘A green traffic light swam in the fog like a beacon in a storm of humanity, reaching out to her.’
Mist or fog signifies the unconscious mind. Grey symbolizes the unclear distinction between consciousness (white) and unconsciousness (black) which is a reflection of Rachia’s life: she is trapped between this ego and id.
Next, Ratchia is startled by a dog: ‘big bodied, big headed, stout neck, forelegs hunched and tense, its dark eyes concentrated.’ According to Carl Jung, animals are a symbol of our primitive nature, alluding to the unconscious – and this primitive nature, manifested in the animus, is haunting Ratchia.
Ratchia feels degraded and subdued by the animus. Therefore, she sympathizes with other subjugated people around her, like the two beggar children on the street: ‘Ratchia dropped money into their bowls’; and she is drawn towards the old man with leprosy preaching on the street corner. ‘No wait – I want to listen to him,’ she says when Suchin tries to drag her away.
Later in the novel, Ratchia surrenders to the animus, or male personality within herself; but in so doing she goes overboard, and is possessed by the negative traits of the animus.
First, when she is filming her new movie, she surrenders to her sexual drive, flirting with the crew, even with the camera: ‘Make love to the camera,’ the director says, and, ‘Ratchia’s eyes flashed at the director and she imaged she was making love to him too.’ Then, during the next shoot: ‘she turned and threw herself into the arms of the dancers [and] lets their hands caress her body.’
At the party scene, she becomes aggressive and even more promiscuous. ‘Ratchia put her arm around [the director] and hugged him. He drew his small, robust body up against her own and kissed her on the neck. She let his sausage-like fingers play with her torso. She giggled, spilling her champagne on her dress.’
During the sex scene with the director, Rachia starts to regret deeply this promiscuous behavior, the first stage in acceptance, and harmony, with the animus. She struggles with the director, rolls him over and pricks his neck with her fingernail, drawing ‘a speck of blood on his neck.’ It all could be a dream, or an imaginary scene, because Rachis feels blood on her own throat when she emerges from the party.
Later, in the taxi, Ratchia continues to regret her actions at the party: ‘She thought about her behaviour at the studio party and her body curled up. Her skin crawled as if she were covered in worms.’
In summary, this essay has scrutinized the animus is the female character of Ratchia in Kaliyuga: Age of Darkness. First, we have seem how Ratchia is haunted by the aniumus. It is all around her, on every street corner, threatening her. Then we have seen how she surrenders to it, but in so doing she lets it override her ego until she surrenders to its negative traits. Finally, Ratchia regrets her aggressive and promiscuous behavior. This regret could, hopefully, lead to Ratchia’s recover of her true self and harmony with her male identity by the end of the novel.