Critical Analysis of night of the scorpion by Nissim Ezekiel

 The Night of the Scorpion.

The Night of the Scorpion by Nissin Ezekiel was published in 1965 in his work "The Exact Name". It is highly admired as a flawless poetic composition and one of the finest works by Nissin Ezekiel. In this poem, Ezekiel gives the narrative a dramatic intensity. This poem is a poignant exploration of human nature, cultural beliefs, and the shared experiences that connect us. Nissim Ezekiel's 'Night of the Scorpion' is the poet's personal account of his memory of his childhood. When his mother was stung by a scorpion, he was helpless and became a spectator in his home. The poem is structured as a narrative story retelling of a night when the poet's mother is bitten by a scorpion.

Indian Background:

Ezekiel is known to be a detached observer of the Indian scenario and this stance often has the power of a double-edged sword that cuts both ways. On the one side Night of the Scorpion presents an Indian village through the eyes of an outsider and finds the deep-rooted strains of superstition and blind faith which may seem foolish to the Western eye. But on the other, the poem never fails to highlight the positive side of Indian village life. The poet does not turn a blind eye to the fellow-feeling, sympathy, and cooperation shown by the villagers. 

Clash of Ideas:

There is a contrast between the world of irrationality represented by the villagers and the world of rationalism represented by the father who tries all rational means to save his wife from suffering. Religion too plays its role with the holy man saying his prayers. But all three become futile. One cannot totally ignore the underlying current of love and fellow feelings in their endeavors.


The poem describes the night when the speaker's mother was stung by a scorpion and the villagers' reactions to the event. The poem explores several themes, including:
1. Superstition: The villagers' response to the mother's scorpion sting is characterized by superstition and belief in supernatural forces. They resort to traditional rituals and recite religious verses in an attempt to ward off the scorpion's venom.
2. Motherhood: The mother's resilience and selflessness in the face of the scorpion's attack are highlighted in the poem. Despite her pain and suffering, she remains concerned for her family and grateful for their support.
3. Unity and Community: Despite the differences in beliefs and social status, the villagers come together to support the mother in her time of need. The sense of community is highlighted as they collectively try to counteract the effects of the scorpion's venom.
4. Suffering and Endurance: The poem delves into the theme of suffering and the endurance of pain. The mother's suffering from the scorpion's bite becomes a central focus, and her endurance is contrasted with the reactions of the villagers.
5.Human Nature: The poem provides insights into human nature, particularly in times of crisis. It reflects on the varied responses of people to the mother's plight, from the practical and rational to the mystical and superstitious.
6. Contrast of Beliefs: There's a stark contrast between the modern, rational mindset of the poet and the traditional, superstitious beliefs of the villagers. The poem captures the clash between these two perspectives.
7. Power of Nature: The scorpion is a symbolic representation of the uncontrollable forces of nature. The poem explores the idea that, despite human efforts to understand and control the natural world, there are still elements that remain unpredictable and beyond human comprehension.   
8. Powerlessness: The scorpion's venom and the mother's suffering highlight the powerlessness of human beings in the face of natural forces and the limitations of traditional beliefs and practices.

The poem offers a powerful and evocative portrayal of a community's response to a crisis and raises important questions about the nature of suffering and the role of traditional beliefs in modern society.

Post a Comment