The following sample essay on women and society in Munshi Premchand’s novels. Read the introduction, body and conclusion of the essay, scroll down.
Literature is a tool to express the ideas. Some people use literature for art sake but some people use literature for life sake. Munshi Premchand is one of the writers who used literature for purpose sake. His novels show the true picture of society. Every era has different types of problems in society. As Premchand was the writer of pre-independent era so the problems of that time were different from today`s time.
Women were marginalized and exploited at that time. This paper aims to focus the conditions of women in the society of Premchands time and to show the reformative approach of Munshi Premchand towards women Munshi Premchand known as social reformer.
Key words: Gender discrimination, patriarchy exploitation, prostitution, unmatched marriages, dowry system.
“Today we should no longer dare to say without qualification that literature is the expression of society”.
That is by no means true-at least not in the sense that a mirror is the “Expression” of the object that if reflects. Literature may as easily express a defense reaction to its society as an acceptance of it.
MARC Bloch, the historian`s craft (1953).
Munsi Premchad is known as “Upanayas Samrat” (King of Novels). Before Premchand, novels were written in romantic way. It was Premchand, who first introduced novels in a different way. His approach was realistic because Premchand has a very clear thinking about literature.
He believes in art for life sake in place of art for art`s sake. He writes that the ideal literature is written for art sake. As we all known he is the writer of pre-independent era and at time socio-political conditions were getting change rapidly and new ideas were immerged. And in those conditions
it is hard to maintain the idealism. According to premchand, Art for art sake is possible only when people live happily and become prosperous day by day. But our country is facing socio-political crisis so ideal thinking is not possible and European countries are also writing for purpose sake. (P. 38)
He said, I do not feeling hesitate in saying that I take art as a product of utility. (P.13)
Geetanjali panday expresses premchand`s views on literature in her book Between Two Worlds:
Literature should criticize and analyze our life the literature which does not infuse the reins of society were controlled by religion. Today literature has taken charge and its means is love for beauty. The downtrodden, the pained and the deprived-their protection and in us true strength and determination is worthless for us in our present times in earlier age advocacy is the duty of literature.
Shiv Kumar Misra writes in his ed. Book, Premchand transformed the whole art of fiction writing and laid the foundations of a vigorous tradition of realistic and socially relevant fiction.
His literature is fully packed with social awareness and social evils. He always talked about social evils and the weaker section of society. Historical background also proved that women are consider to be the weaker or the parasites. At that time situation was worse but Premchand was the first who understand the fact that there is no possibility of improvement in society without the improvement in the condition of Aadha Aabadi. So he has not written even a single novel without women characters.
During the period when Premchand wrote, society has so many evils which resulted in the form of problems of which women faced like down system, prostitution, unmatched marriage, child, helplessness of window and many more. Life of a window was very critical at that time. She has to live her life as culprit. She lived not only like a sadhvi but also spent her life like astetic and even proper food and clothes were not allowed to her. Financially she had to depend on others. Even the parents of widows were not willing to accept them. Rattan in Gaban is the striking example of this behaviour. When her husband was alive, she spent a luxurious life but after his death, everything finished. She said,
I have told you. I have no relation with anything in this house. I was just a mere hired servant. Don`t think you will be honored in that house after your husband`s death. A joint family is not a bed roses but a couch of thorns. It is not a boat which will sail you to the store. It is a huge beast which will swallow you. (P.287)
Marriage is supposed to be a very important turnout in our life and in India society marriage plays an important role in the life of a woman. But sometimes it brings unpleasant consequences like dowry, unmatched marriage, old partner marriage and unmatched qualities of partners and many more. Due to the curse of downy, Suman, the heroin of Sevasadan is married to a widower, Gajdhar Prasad, a poor man, was unable to satisfy her natural desire for good clothes and a decent living. The same in the case of Nirmala who is married to Tota Ram of 40 years. Because of poverty girl child was unwelcomed at the time of birth because people have no money to give downy for their marriage. Talent was not awarded in place of downy. He explains the tendency of the time,
Nirmala is pretty, talented, intelligent. She belongs to a prestigious family but let her be, if dowry is there all blemishes transform into merit. Qualities have no worth, only dowry has value. (P.55)
Another problem for women was the problem of divorce. It is said that divorce tendency is not prevailed in our country but husbands leave their wives for any cause may be that is well founded or not.
After that they became helpless and face financially crisis too. So for their betterment Divorce System was like a revolution. Premchand writes in Godan, Minakshi doesn`t need any help from her husband, she can live comfortably, but she claims for alimony because it was her right. It was the result of awareness and education.
Prostitution was the next prominent problem for women. It is not women who easily come into this insulting profession. It is our society that provokes a woman to indulge in this bad profession. In order to fulfill the sexual desires of men, women have to lose their prestige land one more reason for prostitution was economic problem. In Godan Mr Mehta and Mirza Sahib always have discussion on this point. Mirza Sahib comment.
Only those women come into prostitution who do not get honorable shelter in the family due to the some reason or those who are economically depressed (P.329)
In this male dominated society women are supposed to be a trivial thing to satisfy the sexual gratification. Premchand throw light on the critical conditions of women. In his first novel Sevasadan, Suman said I know. I did very wrong, but I was helpless and there was no better way to live. I tried to earn livelihood by sewing or stitching but society is very harsh so I have to jump into this insulting profession. (P.100)
Munshi premchand always gives important role to women in his all stories and novels. His novels have many heroines who are the sufferer of society but they are not coward and foolish. Though they are the tools in the hands of male dominated society but Premchand gives them a different type of attitude to face those problems. Society was harsh and cruel at that time and women were weak because the lack of education and awareness. Women were much exploited even beaten by their husbands. Dhaniya is best example, though she was beaten by Hori in front of all people but she always stands with his husband in the time of crises. As Premchand presented the true picture of society through his novels and these were the problems of which women have to face. By concluding this we can say as Premchand shows the problems of women in society, they suffer alot but they face them courageously. This thing proves that Premchand`s approach was feministic; he fought for the rights of women and want to give them a proper place in society. Society never understands what a woman has to bear but Premchand`s female characters are strong enough to bear those problems and talked about their rights too.