International Council for Education, Research and Training

Unveiling Hidden Traumas: Examining Freudian Concepts in Mahesh Dattani’s Dance Like a Man


Bhagoji, Manisha D

ICERT, Pennsylvania, USA



Trauma is one of the strongest natural phenomena that nature has added to human lives. It is assumed that trauma shatters human beings in a way that recollecting the pieces of their personality makes it too difficult to stand up and lead a normal life for those who experience this phenomenon. In literature, the writers tried their hands at recreating the events that caused human lives to experience trauma. However, whether the text conveys the exact effect of the feeling or not that is another study but several novels including graphic novels like Maus, are referred to as good examples of this kind of writing in literature. According to psychologists, trauma is caused not only by events or the horrors that one faces in life but their memories about the events leading to the particular feelings. Like William Wordsworth’s definition of poetry 

“Poetry is the spontaneous overflow of the powerful feeling; it takes its origin from emotion recollected in Tranquility” – William Wordsworth.

The unpleasant feelings of past events get collected in memories, reflecting situationally or throughout life creating trauma for a lifetime. It could also be considered the part of Neurosis that makes the experiences turn out to be Traumatic and difficult to manage. Exploring the literature review Mahesh Dattani’s Dance Like a Man is one of the Indian plays that discussed several issues including culture, gender discrimination, a sense of loss of identity, and much more similar. However, this paper focuses on the different angles of the play based on Freud’s theory on Trauma; the traumatic experiences that the family goes through on an individual level without the knowledge of each other’s pain. The concept of a typical family is exhibited in the play yet the couple leads their lives in the name of Love, Care, Support, and Ambition, which seem to be partially fake and hollow. 


Keywords: Traumatic Hysteria, Traumatic Neurosis, Pathogenic Reminiscences, Depression.


Impact Statement

This research on Mahesh Dattani’s “Dance Like a Man” employs Freudian concepts, particularly Traumatic Hysteria and Traumatic Neurosis, to explore the psychological dimensions of trauma within the play. The analysis delves into the characters’ experiences, focusing on the intergenerational impact of societal expectations, gender roles, and repressed emotions. The study reveals how trauma manifests in the lives of Jairaj and Ratna, affecting their identities, relationships, and overall well-being. The play serves as a poignant commentary on the destructive consequences of conforming to societal norms and the enduring psychological wounds inflicted by oppressive structures. This research contributes a novel perspective to the existing literature on the play, offering insights into the characters’ struggles and the cyclical nature of trauma within a patriarchal framework. The exploration of trauma theories in the context of Indian literature provides a unique lens for understanding the complexities of human experience.


About Author

Dr. Manisha D Bhagoji, a highly accomplished Doctor of Literature (D. LITT) (Honoris Causa) from the British National University of Queen Mary, UK, and the USA, boasts 19+ years of expertise as an English Educator. Her leadership skills drive academic excellence, fostering a love for learning in students and professionals. Affiliated with Bengaluru North University and global educational bodies like ICERT, IAECT, and IAST, her certifications as an English Educator, Certified Corporate Trainer, and more showcase her diverse skill set.

At KGI, Bangalore, she adeptly employed modern resources to meet curriculum goals, gauging student performance and utilizing innovative teaching tools. Her prior role as an IELTS and soft-skill Trainer demonstrates her dedication to personalized student development, and overcoming language barriers for student success.

Dr. Manisha contributes significantly to academic discourse with a Ph.D. in English Language and notable publications in journals and conferences. She stands as an inspiration for educational excellence, embodying expertise, dedication, and a profound commitment to shaping education globally.



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