The Thwarted New Woman: Reading a Chauvinist Godan
Keywords:social reformer, medieval, Modern Era, absolute precision, Godaan, .etc
: Premchand the social reformer was perhaps the most passionate writer writing on behalf of the abject condition of women in early modern India, he has denounced the life-taking cruelty of practices like dowry; prostitution; widowhood but the India that Premchand inhabited was very largely medieval and feudal, which though touched by the rising winds of Gandhism that were blowing across the country was still left largely untouched by the Modern Era that was also being ushered in by the likes of Nehru. While Premchand delineated the caste-ridden Indian society, where the woman was the truly mute subaltern with absolute precision, a close study of Godaan shows that when it came to the New India that was rising on the borrowings of ideas from the West, and especially when it came to the woman of that New India, Premchand couldn’t extend a space free of chauvinism. The fretters which he wanted to be broken for his other, conventional protagonists were conveniently left to shackle The New Woman.
The character of Malti, the very chic woman doctor in Godaan is like no other woman that Premchand created- she is the site from which the modern, city-bred, liberated feminist sought to grow, but then, unlike Ibsen's Nora, was thwarted.
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