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New Women R K Narayans The Guide English Literature Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Literature
Wordcount: 2812 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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'The perspective of Indian English novelists represents the different levels of the Indian consciousness which is shaped by the tradition of Indian humanism.'(George Lucas, 1) The theme of the emancipation of a new woman for the first time became a wide spread and genuine concern and improvement for women's pathetic image became a social issue in the early twentieth century. It became the creative consciousness for all the Indian English writers including R.K Narayan. Narayan through the character, Rosie, in The Guide depicts the emergence of a new woman. In Rosie, Narayan has shown a woman experiencing a conflict between a strong yearning for individual fulfillment and traditional norms. Narayan illustrates the Indian society which is deeply rooted in traditionalism, where women have been the major relentless victims of circumstances and conventions. Rosie also becomes a victim of circumstances and conventions but through her rebellious attitude, she makes her own way with a sense of pride and dignity, which shows a newly liberated woman in the post independence Indian society. This term paper shows how a woman asserts herself by breaking the old shackles of tradition and convention and finally brings an era of a new woman.

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The novel The Guide portrays two Indias; the traditional India, and the modern sophisticated India. In the traditional India, women have no opportunity for asserting or expressing their talent and personality. Our traditional society is rigid one in which there is no respect for freedom or expression of one's potential. Women are extremely suppressed by the males. Men are seen as superior to women and hold good position while women realize this painful reality only when they dare to express themselves and try to secure their fulfillments. Consequently, this whole scenario suppresses one's self either consciously or unconsciously. R.K Narayan says in My Days: A Memoirs:

"From times immemorial, man assigned her a secondary place and kept her there with such subtlety and cunning that she herself began to loose all notions of her independence, her individuality, her status and strength. A wife in an orthodox milieu of Indian society was an ideal victim of such circumstances"

Whereas if we look at the modern India, Jennet P. Gemmill says, it is:

"a broad based an dynamic concept involving an awareness of time, the will to revitalize traditions, a craving for novelty and variety, exploitation of the social conditions for the fulfillment of human personality and a struggle for progress"

In such a society the woman is more enlightened about 'herself' and the milieu in which she has to fulfill the purpose of her living.

Rosie, in The Guide, is a character, who is deeply rooted in tradition, occupies the most unique position among the Narayan's women. She comes from a

"family traditionally dedicated to the temples as dancers" (The Guide, 75).

She belongs to the "Devdasi"clan in which women were dedicated to deity and not permitted to perform mundane domestic chores for the men. They did not have any right to choose their rightful husband. Through her name, Rosie, Narayan's ironic intention becomes clear in which her name like a rose shows that her life remains surrounded by the thorns. She shows her first assertiveness by breaking the fetters of darkness of the "Devdasi" clan and leaps towards the light of learning by obtaining Masters in Economics, which respond a matrimonial advertisement in the newspaper;

"An educated, good looking girl to marry a rich bachelor of academic interests. No caste restrictions good looks and university degree essential" (Bhatnagar, 75).

Her degree shows a window of the world of glitter and glamour and by using it she takes one more offbeat step in her ascent. She marries Marco, a rich bachelor of academic interests. The marriage shows how she has scored over her "Devdasi" sisters. Shalini Gupta says in her essay (page 200);

"The caged bird shakes her wings, breaks the bars with jubilant hopes and flies in one sweep to Marco's Nest" (page 4).

So, the marriage symbolizes Rosie's adventurous spirit and her aspirations for the freedom of the outer world appear to assume the fulfillment of her artistic learning and yearning.

After her marriage, the most defiant act comes when she commits adultery, which constitutes a crucial stage in her life. It is very necessary to understand the nature of her marital relationship with Marco which enforces her to make extra marital relationship with Raju, their guide. Rosie chose to marry Marco to get status and respect of wife whereas Marco being a typical Indian male wanted a subservient faithful wife like his servant Joseph who, in his opinion was a wonderful man;

"I don't see him, I don't hear him but he does everything for me at the right time. That's how I want things to be … that's what I thought when I saw Rosie demonstrates to me in her hotel room" (The Guide, 127).

Marco marries Rosie with the hope that she would go well with his practical life but his choice becomes wrong, for the girl he chooses in marriage comes out to be a dreamer who wants to be

"Benefited by a husband who could care for her career" (Shalini Gupta,page 200).

Narayan gives us the instances of their clash of expectation, hopes, interests and desire which lead to the eventual collapse of the marriage between Rosie and Marco they have nothing in common between them like love and warmth they may share together.

Narayan shows their opposite appearances noted by Balrama Gupta;

"Rosie with her bright hued and gold laced sari, diamond earrings and gold necklace and with her curly hair braided and deflowered is a contrast to Marco with his colored glasses, thick jacket and a thick helmet".

Further, there is no similarity between their natures, attitudes and interests. So, if Rosie is vivacious, spiritly and passionate than Marco is cold grim and unemotional.

` Raju describes them as against the beautifully natural surroundings of the Peak House. He says:

"The girl was in ecstasy…she ran like a child from Plant to Plant with cries of joys, while the man looked on with no emotions. . ." (Ramesh Dnyate's essay, p-93)

Rosie is a social girl. She loves the company of people and is destined to play a role in the open world whereas Marco seems to have forgotten the human world and fated to flourish his solitude. Significantly, their lifelong interests are different in nature. Rosie's art involves the pulsating human body whereas Marco's research is confined to stone walls and stone figure. He is a die-hard archeologist, who lives and breaths lifeless ancient sculptures while neglecting the living embodiment of the art of dance, his wife Rosie. This is what Raju says about him:

"All that he could do was to copy ancient things and write about them. His mind was completely in it. All practical affairs of life seemed impossible to him…" (C.P.Sharma's essay, p-109)

He is an infertile man who lacks human qualities like love, warmth and compassion which is expected by his wife. His excessive indulgence in the mute things of the past kills Rosie's interest in life and love of art. As the novelist puts it:

"dead and decaying things seemed to unloosen his tongue and fire his imagination, rather than things that lived and moved and swung their limbs...anything that interested her seemed to irritate him" (Shalini Gupta's essay, p-201)

Rosie too has intellectual pursuit like Marco. She tells him that she has many ideas like him. Her interests are no less serious than him. She starts her dancing practice at five in the morning and continues for full three hours. In the afternoon, she spends her one or two hours by studying Natya Shastra of Bharat Muni in order to keep the purity of classical forms. She looks for the ideas in Ramayana and The Mahabharata. But Marco finds nothing intellectual in her, which shows Marco's approach to Rosie's aspiration is unimaginative and deliberately callous. He believes only in marital satisfaction and cannot give spiritual fulfillment. This approach of Marco is incompatible with Rosie. Rosie says to Raju's mother in The Guide:

"I would have preferred any kind of mother-in-law, if it had meant one real, live husband" (Shalini Gupta's essay, page 201).

Then she goes to Raju for fulfilling her desires. The meeting with Raju marks turning point in her life. Raju brings with a promise of fragrant musical breezes and a shower of colors of spring for Rosie. He becomes greatly possessive about Rosie and never thinks that she is married to a person whom he has now grown to hate for being associated with her. For the sake of Rosie, he separates himself from his mother and discards the whole set of peoples or the whole society. By sacrificing all the things, Raju gives himself up for Rosie to fill the loveless and cheerless void in her life. Overwhelmed with love and gratefulness, she has confessed:

"Even if I have seen rebirth, I won't be able to repay my debt to you" (Satyanarayan's essay, page 68).

Raju becomes her friend, philosopher and her guide. She realizes that he is inviting her to go to the land of her dreams, her spirit begins to soar, and her individuality begins to bosom for a delightful expression. She also realizes that he is capable of fulfilling her creative and physical cravings, and she starts revolting herself by dance. Her passion for dance was upbringing by birth. But in devdasi clan she was like a caged bird and her instinct for freedom, spontaneity and self expression was suppressed. It is her plight in which Raju beckoned her light released her from her dark tunnel and her heart joy and fulfillment cultivated through this art form. He symbolizes in that context a warm flow of life and certain recklessness that minister to vital human needs.

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Rosie is defined by dancing and her talent as an accomplished dancer achieved wide recognition through Raju's managerial skill. Rosie becomes a star attraction and Raju is known as the master of this establishment. She secures her rising fame through her dance. Dance may seem to be a secondary concern in the novel but it functions mainly as a medium for developing Rosie's character. Thus, through the 'Bharat Natyam', she becomes famous as a world class dancer.

But Raju uses her obsession for dance, for personal gain. As a manager, he takes too many appointments without caring Rosie's physical health, in order to gain more money and self esteem. He begins to squander his new found fortune in drinking parties and gambling sessions but making a continuous pace in fixing Rosie's dance performances at various places and accepting advances for earning too much money.

Rosie's delight in the company of fellow-artists is resented by Raju, who cannot understand the freedom, mobility and exposure that a devdasi woman pursues. He is not an ideal mate for Rosie and cannot comprehend the unease within her. So, the relationship becomes doomed because it is not based on true love and understanding. When Rosie's jewelry box is to be returned to her by Marco, Raju denies the importance of the event and attempt to forge Rosie's signature and keeps the jewelry box away from her which shows Raju condemns their relationship to failure. Eventually when Raju is jailed, she becomes stunned and expresses her reactions to Raju's forgery as an atypical 'karma' conscious woman, she says:

"If I have to pawn my last possession I'll do it to save You from jail. But once it is over, leave me once for all" (Ramesh Dnyate's essay, p-94)

In the final analysis, after abandon by Marco and betrayed by Raju, Rosie stands steadfast and dignified and does her dharma as a 'Hindu Wife'. As the man who gave her the new lease for life, Rosie tried to save Raju by paying to a costly lawyer. She shows a sense of great fullness to Marco who takes her out of darkness by taking his book with her when she leaves Malgudi.Curiously, she too like Savitri (The Dark Room) who is taken from The Hindu Mythology, is regarded as a victim of man's world. In the male dominated world, Marco and Raju both played the game of betrayal to her but with her aspiring spirit; she has managed to find her own way with a sense of pride and dignity. Her personality leaves a sense of stronger imprint on Raju. Her vision of happy living has within it not only her passion for creativity in the dance but also a loving husband and a small home as its essential component. She says to raju:

"I'm tired of all this circus existence." "It was your own choice."

(S.Satyanarain's essay, p-71)

She leaves the Malgudi for settling her life and no more plays any role:

"She had settled down at Madras and was looking after herself quite well."

(S.Satyanarain's essay, p-70)

Thus, Rosie wins our admiration and respect by making her own way of living.Rosie, as a rebel, reflects the complex blending of tradition and modernity.

To conclude, it can be said that, through the character Rosie, narayan's humanistic concern is revealed which deals with the overgrowing awareness of the need to expand the area of woman's freedom. His fictional world is circumscribed by a traditional Hindu society in which men rather women hold a superior place. Women are generally confined to the daily drudgery and all sorts of prohibitions are imposed on them but the milieu has changed from a strictly orthodox to the progressive and liberated value systems in modern civilization and women too have gradually begun to assert themselves in the society. The woman characters that move in quest of some relief from the suffocation and suppression of their established routine face a clash with the society and in the end they achieve much for themselves. Rosie is a typical example of this type of a situation of a woman in Indian society.

Work Cited

1. Bhatnagar,"The Gendered Construction of Rosie as the "Other" in the Guide: A Comparison of the Textual and Cinematic Tradition", Readings in Indian English Literature: Notion, Culture and Identity.

2. Chandrasekharan, Nair Anup,"R.K.Narayan's The Guide from the verbal to the visual: An Analysis in comparison", Perspective on Indian English Fiction, Editor, Jaydip Singh K.Dodiya.

3. Dnyate, Ramesh,"The Concept and Nature of Rebellion, Rosie's Rebellion", The Novels of R.K.Narayan, A Typological Study of Characters.

4. Gupta, Salini,"Assertion and After: A Study of the Woman Protagonist in R.K.Narayan's The Guide", Humanism in Indian English Fiction edited by T.S Anand.

5. Jannet P.Gemmill,"Modernity & Contemporary Indian Literature", in Literature East and West, 14 No. 2 (1970), 287.

6. Narayan, R.K, The Guide (1958, rpt Mysore: Indian Thought publication, 1978), 127.

7. Narayan, R.K, My Days: A Memoir (1974; rpt Mysore: Indian thought Publication, 1975), 119.

8. Singh, S.Satyanarain,"The Guide: Crisis and Resolution", Indian Fiction in English edited by P.Mallikarjuna Rao, M.Rajeshwar.

9. Sharma, C.P,"The masterpieces of Maturity (p, 104-110)", The Novels of R.K.Narayan: A Perspective.

10. Thieme, John,"Middle-period novels: The Guide to The Painters of Signs", R.K.Narayan, Contemporary World Writers.

11. Lucas, George,"Empowerment of Women through the Character of Rosie in R.K. Narayan's 'The Guide'"


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