The concept of Gaze gained a genderperspective with French feminist critics. Laura Mulvey in her essay,Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinemaspeaks about the absence of female Gaze in movies. She identifies three prominent gazes inmovies – the Gaze of the male behind the camera, the gaze of the male characterin the movie and the Gaze of the male audience.
She argues that the female audience assume the Gaze of the malecharacter in the movie, as they donot have a scope for their female Gaze. Various feminist critics have argued insupport of and against her theory. Literature,from time immemorial, has used the power of gaze to express the complexity ofhuman life with its myriad feelings and emotions. Many are the instances, whenthough we would, we remain speechless, powerless and thereby live in falseness.There are instances were words fail. They fail in their inability to expressthe subtler aspects of feelings and fears which can hardly be explained or expectedto be understood even when explained.
In such cases, Gaze is the only optionavailable. Gaze, signified by a simple, casual look to observing, starring, toan intent, focused look, is available in many different forms for human beingsto directly convey and communicate with the mind and heart of a fellow being.The dynamism of Gaze makes it powerful even in its absence. When gaze servesthe purpose of kindling desire, as expounded by Freud, the absence of asignificant gaze from the woman may speak volumes about her actual desire,though she may be a silent bearer of the male gaze. Thus, the power of Gaze canbe studied both in the presence and absence of it, a befitting dual study, asGaze itself is a dual phenomenon, operating from both ends – the subject andobject perspectives. The power of Gaze can only be brought out by such a dualstudy, which is the purpose of this paper.
ManjuKapur’s debut novel Difficult Daughters has been taken forthe analysis.