“The Prisoner” by Omar Shahid Hamid is a literary work that can be seen through the ideology of rugged individualism. This work is an endeavor to show areas of conflict for the two different characters in the novel. Character of Akbar shows similarity with ideology of rugged individualism while the character of Mehar Maqsood is an embodiment of Marxist criticism on rugged individualism.
ii. Findings for the Research Questions
Findings for the research questions are the following:
a. Main research question: Is rugged individualism a blessing or a curse? How does the writer project contrasting ideas of rugged individualism in characters of protagonist and antagonist?
Through the descriptive approach and the close reading of the text, it can be inferred that the idea of rugged individualism works differently in both the characters for the protagonist it proves to be a blessing on the contrary it acts as a curse for the antagonist through this research work. Akbar the protagonist falls fit in paradigms of the ideology that was produced by Herbert Hoover to let the person feel free to work his own betterment without aid and here through the evidence of the events it is proved that Akbar not only worked for his betterment but also for the betterment of the commonality. He thrives to come out of his present stance of hardships in the imprisonment and also worked for the betterment of the public and country in this way the theory of Hoover becomes proven in its applicability and the assertion. While for Mehar Maqsood the antagonist it becomes a curse as it brings no benefits to him and causes difficulties and problems for the people. And the benefits he gain proves to be temporary for him as well. So this is how the Marxist critics criticizes the ideology of the rugged individualism proves to be applicable on the antagonist’s character. So this operates differently in both the characters.
b. Subsidiary Questions
A: How does the author characterizes the protagonist through Hoover’s ideology of rugged individualism?
Herbert Hoover, the American president gave this idea of rugged individualism in which a person may be allowed to work for his own aid and benefits without seeking help from the government. It may give them a better opportunity to boost themselves for their financial careers. This is quite evident in the character of Akbar khan the protagonist of the novel “The Prisoner”. It can be seen in the novel that Akbar khan is in prison and he has set himself aloof after being deceived by his own superior IG named as Doctor Death. Akbar knows the sensitivity of the shift of focus of the government from United Front to the Jihadis. So in the wake of learning from Muslim religious scholars he increases his connections with Jihadis so as to remain a member of the hot cake of a certain time. Then kidnapping of an American journalist paves ways for Akbar’s emancipation and he manages to have a deal with colonel Tarkeen and sets free and a respectable figure of the department and the country by setting the journalist free from the jaws of Jihadis. Out of the ways encounters by Akbar create ease and peace for the whole city and the citizens of Karachi it gives him an out of turn promotion as a benefit from the government.
B: How does the author characterize the antagonist through ideology of Marxist critics for rugged individualism?
The character of antagonist named Mehar Maqsood is the one that is pure reflection of the characteristics that are criticized by the Marxist critics. Through the instances taken in analysis, it is very evident that Mehar Maqsood is only interested in his own loafs and fishes and the benefits for himself only. The way he performs his duties creates ease and enjoyment only for him but not for the others. In fact it causes trouble for the other people. He is not patriotic at all as he has nothing to do with the country’s honor and he keeps on performing his duties the way a corrupt police officer can perform. He shares rugged individualism in his character this way proves good for him for a certain time only but later this proves fatal for him. The way he creates problems for Akbar is another attribute that the author crafts in this character. He always tries to suppress Akbar so as to remain in power as Akbar can be a threat to his designation and power. So this is how the author crafts this ideology of rugged individualism in this character that can be traced out through this research work.
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