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Feminism in Indian English Literature

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Literature
Wordcount: 1601 words Published: 14th Jun 2017

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First, the phase of imitation is prolonged and the dominant tradition and the international roles have affected the social roles. Secondly, the phase of protest was established against the standards values of life which also includes demand for autonomy. Lastly, Self-discovery is a phase, where search for identity was the main aim of the writers to project in their writings, as they experienced freedom from self-dependency.

Thus the critic supplanted the traditional definition of feminism especially in literature by a new paradigm for manifesting the evolutionary aspect of woman’s consciousness as reflected in literature specifically in the British novel through three stages of progression- the feminine, the feminist and the female.

While the post-colonial enigma gradually changed into a neo-colonial consciousness in India, the creative writers specially the woman factionalists resorted to examining the role of modern Indian women vis-â-vis family and society differently and more positively. The second generation of Indian women novelists like Anita Desai, Shashi Deshpande, Bharati Mukherjee and Shobha De specially exhibits a steady progression in context of the three stages advocated by Elaine Showalter. Their female protagonists display a psychic transformation traversing and evolving gradually but firmly through the respective stages of imitation of tradition, protest and advocacy of rights, and eventually introspection leading to self-discovery which metamorphisezes them into strong, independent, expeditious women willing to encounter the onslaughts of life not merely as a minority group but with the cognizance of being powerful sustaining force for society as a whole.

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It has been observed that the position of women in India has been subjected to varieties of changes over the past few years. From equal status with men in the prehistoric times through the less equality which was prevalent in the medieval period. The promotion of women’s rights had been taken up by many reformers in India in order to emancipate their position.

In the contemporary times, women have been at high post in the nation like India, that includes, the post of President, Prime Minister, Speaker of Lok Sabha and Leader of opposition party respectively. Not only that women have done exceptionally well in different spheres of life, be it academics, teaching, defense, media or entrepreneur etc.

In Ancient India, many scriptures had written about the situation of the women, where she enjoyed equal status as that of men. Not only in the sphere of rights but also in the field of education, were women given equal opportunity. Vedas like Rigveda and Upnishads, wrote about women sages and seers, Gargi and Matreyi.

After the medieval period the position of the women got deteriorated and evil practices like Sati, child marriage, ban on widow remarriage became part of social life in India. The conquest of India by the Muslims brought in practice like purdah and Jauhar. The conditions were difficult and stringent for Indian women, and few women excelled in the field of literature, politics, religion and education. To name some women who excelled in different field, Razia Sultan who ruled over Delhi, Durgavati, the Gond Queen, Chand Bibi fought against Mughal forces of Akbar and defended Ahmednagar, Nur Jahan established imperial power and was a real force behind the Mughal throne. Mirabai,a female saint-poet was an important Bhakti movement figures.

Many reformers during the British rule also worked for the upliftement of the women, and some of the freedom fighters included women in forefront like Bhikaji Cama, Dr Annie Besant, Vijaylakshmi Padit, Kasturbha Gandhi and Rani Laxmibai

If we talk about defining women empowerment, it simply means giving the women crucial authority. It has been proved since time immemorial that women are more responsible when tackling a situation, so delegating authority with confidence is the first step towards women empowerment. It also means to give rights and power to women to face the challenges of life. When we analyze empowering women, it emphasizes on inspiring women with the courage to break free from the barriers of patterns of society or religious norms that kept traditionally women suppressed.

It is known fact that women, particularly in India are still backward and they are not aware of their rights that the constitution has endowed. The mission of many reform institutions in India is to make them aware of all these facts and fight against the torture and all evil things caused to them by the society and the husbands and other people is called “Women Empowerment”. Women empowerment is instilled by many with the aim of giving power to women to make their own decisions in their lives. It includes social, economic, legal, and political and health empowerment. It is a central issue which is growing at a slower pace.

In India, Women Empowerment was a challenging task and one needs to acknowledge that gender based discrimination and due to this social malice was prevalent for many years. The malice cannot be removed by adopting few laws or policies, as many of them though may be on paper, but are not implemented in actual terms. The power structural forces of the society never tried to uplift the status of women at different levels and the growth of the women was stunted.

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At this juncture of complexities related to the rights of women, the situation can only be improved, once the social attitude is revamped and the prevalent evil practices against the women should be banned. This can be brought in by women’s access and control over the decision making. Further increasing the social interaction on women at different levels in the society.

In India, women are marginalized at every level of the society whether in economic, social or political participation and gender disparity is crept in the life of people that

The rise of the novel in India was not purely a literary phenomenon. It was a social phenomenon as much, rather the fulfillment of a social need. It was associated with social, political and economic conditions which were comparable to those which favoured rise in England. The rise of novel and appearance of it in nineteenth century India as it did in eighteenth century England synchronized with the rise of individualism and with all the consequent political and social reorientations which followed.

The eighteenth century was an age of anarchy from a political point of view, torn as it was by wars, conquests and annexations.The character of Indian novel is bound to vary from language to language and is bound to be conditioned by the regional, linguistic and cultural peculiarities characteristic of the writer and his environment. But the Indian novel, whether in English or in any other Indian languages, has an individual quality, a distinctiveness which calls for serious critical attention and the Indian novel in English has this distinctiveness much more than the novels in other languages of the country, a distinctiveness which transcends all the peculiarities characteristics of different linguistic and cultural milieus. Though this would mean our accepting the Indianness of the Indian novel in English as one of the important frames of reference in all critical studies of the genre, one has to guard oneself at the same time, against the danger of the `Indianness’ becoming, with the writer and the critic alike, an obsession, an unhealthy pre-occupation with “orientalism, lush scene painting” and with a desire to “pander to the national self esteem of the Indians or gullibility of European intellectuals.”

A novel written by an Indian writer will certainly be Indian without any conscious effort on the part of the writer to the extent to which it depicts Indian life and culture, reflects faithfully the life and spirit of the Indian ethos and grapples with the problems and tensions generated by the rather unique way in which an individual’s life and character are determined by home, family and society in the Indian social milieu. It can be peculiarly Indian in respect of its form, narrative techniques employed and the manner in which it adapts the English language to the native sensibility.

It can be much more characteristically Indian in its moral and spiritual content and in the values and ideals it upholds and it may even show another worldliness, a predilection for myth and fantasy, a tendency to turn one’s back on the here and now and show “a basic hunger for the unseen’- all deriving from the Indian writer’s unconscious affiliation with the world of legends, fables and puranas.

But any deliberate attempt made by the writer to make his novel Indian or to design it for a Western audience will make it artificial and unreal. Though no Indian writer writing in English can be absolutely free from being conscious of the Western reader, he can at least avoid designing his work specifically for a Western audience. He may write for a Western audience as much as for an Indian audience but he must write as an Indian with India in his bones, of course, but without a conscious or deliberate effort to make his work distinctively Indian.

Indian fiction in English has emerged as a separate entity for the study of the rapid change and development in social, economic, political and psychological facets of Indian society.


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