ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

Geetanjali PandeySubscribe to Geetanjali Pandey

How Equal? Women in Premchand's Writings

In the final analysis, it is clearly a conservative ideal that Premchand upholds for women. He may at times recommend obviously radical measures. But the characters he creates in his fiction—his craftmanship rested on creating characters that reflected the existing reality and at the same time also embodied the possibilities and directions of desired changes—rarely, if even agitate for the realisation of these measures. Except for the occasions when the call of the greater cause of nationalism necessitates a different mode of behaviour, his ideal women characters merge their identities with those of their men. In this merger alone—or through it—do they seek hope and salvation. They remain the hidden forces behind their men. Their success lies not in anything they do but in what they make possible for their men to achieve. They are the perpetual givers. The takers among them remain the counter-ideal. Ironically it is the latter who are equipped with the will and the determination to fight exploita tion actively. But they are condemned for their supposed self-indulgence and shallowness.

North Indian Intelligentsia and Hindu-Muslim Question

Conventional interpretations of the nationalist intelligentsia's attitudes to communalismfail to take account of the idiom and the cultural context in which this intelligentsia perforce had to think, an idiom and a context that were permeated by religion fin a broad, non-fanatic sense of the term). While this did not involve any automatic or inevitable 'slide-back from secular ideals, what was crucial was the manner in which the question was perceived, the very understanding of what 'communities' meant This paper seeks to illustrate this complex pattern through a study of Premchand's writings. It shows that though Premchand's was a consistently principled support to communal unity, his reactions to specific situations or issues at times deviated from this stance. It argues that a body of inherited assumptions, deeply rooted in his mind, militated against the secular nationalist values to which he was attached, andproduced an ambivalence in his responses to the Hindu-Muslim question.

Premchand and the Peasantry-Constrained Radicalism

The overwhelming concern of the fiction of Premchand is the village which is perceived at times ('romantically') as the sole bastion of humanity in the face of industrialisation and consequent social erosion and at times ('realistically') as the scene of unrelieved exploitation and consequent dehumanisa- don. While this tension in the perception of the village continued til! the very end, Premchand's work showed a general shift from romanticisation to confrontation with reality. With the passage of time, there was also a tendency to curb the 'winged irresponsibility* of the creative writer and to look for more realistic solutions to the ills of rural society.
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