You are on page 1of 3

Prostitution, in an old-fashioned explanation, offering one‟s self for sexual interaction in return of money.

The synonyms of this word in common life slang are very well known and highly insulting: whore, slut, hooker, etc. These are words that no one wants to be associated with. It is said that, it is immoral to be a prostitute. Prostitution, is also a very commonly used theme in many pieces of art. From paintings to literature, the viewers are exposed to the idea of prostitution: Picasso‟s The Demoiselles D‟Avignon, Kamala in Hermann Hesse‟s Siddhartha and young „Anya‟s and „Anyuta‟s in Chekov‟s short stories. That is why this paper is on this immoral act of selling one‟s body for sex, prostitution. Is prostitution only trading body and sex for money; or could a similar immoral act of one selling their integrity and dignity for money or power in other form be considered as prostitution? Could a person prostituting be moral? In this essay these two questions will be referred to with respect to the comparison of Siddhartha By Hesse and some short stories by Chekhov. In many pieces of literature prostitution is introduced to the reader generally by the use of female characters. The prostitution is presented in Siddhartha by the character of Kamala. Kamala is a courtesan, a prostitute with wealthy clients. After his encounter with the woman, who was washing clothes on the river, who offered sexual contact learning after he has never touched a woman; Siddhartha comes near a town and “outside the town, by a beautiful unfenced grove, …[there was] a small train of … servants loaded with baskets. In the middle, in an ornamented chair sedan chair carried by four people, sat a woman [(Kamala she was)], the mistress [(but also the courtesan)], on red cushions beneath a colored awning.” (Hesse 51) Kamala was a very beautiful, charming, fascinating woman of high respect. When she sees Siddhartha her “bright red mouth like a freshly cut fig” (Hesse 51) alluringly smiles and “then [she] disappears into the grove, followed by her servants.” (Hesse 51) Later, Siddhartha learns where this beautiful courtesan lives and goes to that big house. In here Kamala tells him that many young men comes to her, even including Brahmin‟s sons as Siddhartha; but they come in fine clothes, in fine shoes with a scent in their hair and money in their purses (Hesse 52) As she explains to Siddhartha, Kamala is a prostitute of high statue and power. Young men with money and power can only access to her body and facilities. She demands, money and gifts in exchange of teaching and experiencing the art of love with her clients and thus she is indeed a prostitute. Is her prostitution a piece of immorality though? No, it‟s quite the opposite, as a Brahmin‟s son and a Samana Siddhartha, a person on a highly honorable spiritual quest to find the truth about self, needs her services. Kamala has servants, power and respectful men waiting to enjoy her beauty and with ardour aroused by this courtesan. Morality is a relative notion of the people. As Kamala‟s acts are praised by the protagonist, the other characters of the book and the author himself, it can be stated that In Hesse‟s work prostitution is indeed included with a presentation by a woman but it is not immoral. It‟s an act of high respect. In addition to how others react Kamala‟s prostitution, she herself does not see prostitution as an immoral act. She is a strong willed, empowered woman who regards her being a prostitute, she as well as Siddhartha thinks that she is extraordinary, clever and strong. “Not all people are clever”, she says. Also as far as portrayed by Hesse, Kamala is the only clever woman in Siddhartha, she is the only prostitute. Even though Siddhartha comes across many women with clear and open ideas regarding sexuality like the woman who washing the clothes on the river, none of them as strong as Kamala because none of them are actually

In Kamala‟s case the supplier is herself. “Anyuta” (Matlaw 20) from the story with the same name. This makes them of lower status and much less empowered than Kamala. she is ashamed and she is week. money and attention from the lovers determine the high status of this woman. This level of submissiveness and untold. expose her nudity for the sake of science. In Kamala‟s situation the exclusivity that she creates with a demand for glorious and fabulous possessions. And as said before. In Chekhov‟s stories. This is a very common situation in most of Chekhov‟s work like in the story “The Chorus Girl” (Matlaw 37). Unlike Kamala‟s her prostitution is not that open but more immoral to her and to the society.explicitly prostitutes of higher status. In fact they are weak and submissive. she supplies the needs and demands of rich and powerful men‟s dreams and sexual fantasies and uses her body as a way of teaching the art of sexuality. When the wife of Kolpakov‟s come and ask for money to pay for Kolpakov‟s fraud. Kamala‟s uniqueness may be the answer why she is so sought after by many. Vanda sells her body for the gifts and money of these gentlemen. Another thing in contrast to Kamala is that in Chekhov stories none of these girls are unique . when the painter neighbor requests her from the student. meets with rich and powerful men and they take her to diners and give her gifts. from the story “A Gentleman Friend” (Matlaw 34). Even after her complete obedience when she doesn‟t get any rewarding or gratitude but on the contrary that she is thrown away. very insulting and degrading as she cannot do it whilst the maid is watching. Even when she is desperate. unexpressed misery of these young prostitutes show the society‟s opinion on these women and Chekhov‟s of course. She also considers this deed. On the other hand. she is nothing like Kamala. Vanda. Even though she knows that Kolpakov hasn‟t spent that much money on her. the prostitute girls are the ones who need and demand the money more than the man need the services of the girls. And art also. she is given or sent like an object to stand naked and get painted for the sake of art. She is submissive and not strong enough to ask for the money. The prostitutes are in need of money from the men in order to survive. She is a woman who has no money and nowhere to go except some rich men she used to court with to ask money from. She is easily manipulated into giving all of her jewelry which was given to her by different suitors to the wife. When she feels uncomfortable she doesn‟t speak it out loud. asking money from the guy. The clash of need and supply defines who is the submissive one and who holds the strings at hand. She just basically does what she is told to do so. for example. lives in the house of a medical student and she exposes her body for the use of this person in a very cold and normal manner. Perhaps this is one of the most obvious difference between Kamala and prostitutes in Chekhov‟s Russia. In contrast to Kamala the prostitutes in Chekhov‟s work are not that powerful. however. The girl Pasha is a girl I chorus sleeping with a rich man who is much older than her in exchange of some jewelry an little cakes. in Vanda‟s and from Chekhov‟s short stories‟ other girls‟ situation. and why she is so powerful. She is inspected and examined like a dead frog by the anatomy student and drawn naked by the artist. when she is ordered around she does not question. It‟s like her daily routine to be naked around this man. she goes to this old dentists‟ house to ask money from him and end up paying him his last ruble. she has no other idea than going to these people for help. All she could say was “That‟s…your sugar…” and burst into tears. By courting what I mean is prostituting because the way Vanda lives is that she dresses up in her best gowns and goes to parties. terms of prostitution. negligent and unsympathetic towards these women leaving no end for hope? No! Chekhov may be showing the misery and suffering of these women. ed. verbal and emotional violence. he creates sympathy in the reader for Pasha by saying. Siddhartha. simply the suffering of life. Ralph E. we see hope in Anyuta‟s life when the student pities her and lets her stay one more week. Nothing of power and influence of Kamala is resembled in any of these Anyas. when compared to Kamala they all are weak. selling of one‟s body and self in return of money and Earthly materials and objects like jewels and such. This harsh division though does not mean that Chekhov is completely negligent about these women letting them to suffer in each story that is given here as an example. New York: New Directions Publishing Corporation. Matlaw. They are not the only one living a life like this neither none of them have something to offer and teach besides the other ones. Siddhartha and Chekhov‟s stories is technically same. 1971. waiting to go to dinner with one the gentleman friends. This may be one of the reasons why these girls are so different than Kamala and in Chekhov‟s opinion in a pathetic situation. Hermann.. Chekhov the creator of all these imaginary women still leaves a door of hope ajar. the point of view of the society. Chekhov is showing the hardship of all these prostitutes. at the end of the story. it can be said that prostitution in the work of Hesse. Bibliography Hesse. dancing. however. poverty. Nevertheless. While Hesse describing Kamala as a mentor of the art of love. Chekhov‟s prostitutes face with daily life troubles like famine. she was once beaten by a suitor for nothing. Therefore. But is it really so? Is Chekhov really brutal. Anton Chekhov‟s Short Stories. Chekhov creates sympathy in reader towards the prostitutes especially at Anyuta and Pasha. . absolutely nothing or when it is said that Vanda is back on to the night life with a new hat and a new embroidered gown. Also. New York: W&W Norton and Company. courting with men. suffering and ashamed. the women themselves and the authors on prostitution is different. a woman of high power and rank. Anyutas or Vandas. Nevertheless. 1979.