1. Sita and Rama are both initially enraptured by the sight of the deer, despite it being an illusion. However, Laksmana is unconvinced. Why isn't everyone persuaded of the reality of the deer? What roles do sensory perception vs. logical reasoning play here, and why is this contrast significant? (p270-p271, Sattar translation)
I think this passage can shed a lot of light on the theme of appearances vs. reality in the Ramayana - something which is both pervasive and problematic in the text. The appearances of characters in this story are often elaborated to the extreme, and are usually strongly linked to how morally sound a character is perceived to be. I think this passage is interesting because it is one of the only cases where a character's exterior is actually deceptive and inconsistent with their true morality. This question will allow me to delve deeper into the meaning of deception: since truth is valued so highly in this story, when this is violated we can observe an interesting chain of events. There are also instances of characters giving and receiving advice/persuasion in this passage, which I will touch on to highlight the power of argument in the Ramayana - another pervasive theme.
Thus this question allows me to analyse the meaning of disguise, and whether characters are susceptible to deception or not. I will be able to analyse the differing reactions of Rama, Sita and Laksmana to the deer, reflect on why they are/are not convinced, and examine why this might be. I will also be able to analyse how Laksmana reasons out his suspicion to the others, and why they do not heed his advice. I will break down Sita's methods of convincing Rama to kill the deer for her, and how she is used as a justification for its capture. Ultimately, I will be able to investigate the potency of sensory perception, contrast this with the logic-driven argument that Laksmana presents, and examine the outcome of this conflict.