Sankhipta- Naturalistic Philosophy: A study of Rajmohan’s Wife

Sultan, Fayaz. “Bankim Chandra Chatterjee and the Vogue of Naturalistic Philosophy: A study of Rajmohan’s Wife”, The Criterion An International Journal in English. 4.III. 2013. WEB.

Locating Rajmohan’s Wife in Indian Literary Writing has been a tough time though we find certain works attempted on it. Here in this article, Rajhmohan’s Wife is seen through a Naturalistic perspective. As Rajhmohan’s Wife is a novel on patriarchal hierarchy and aristrocracy, the article opens with the lines by Ralph Waldo Emerson’s “Shallow men believe in luck or in circumstance. Strong men believe in cause and effect” which is used to dissect Rajhmohan’s Wife as a Naturalistic discourse (1).

“Naturalism specifically connects itself to the philosophical doctrine of biological and social determinism, according to which human beings are devoid of free will” (1). The given statement precisely connects to the main character of Matangini in Rajhmohan’s Wife where she is devoid of her free will.

As the article looks at the Naturalistic philosophy we find other association with different novel by Nathaniel Hawthorne The Scarlett Letter. Chillingworth represents Rajhmohan while Hester Pryne represents Matangini. But Bankim Chandra Chatterjee’s novel is slightly different from that of Hawthorne’s The Scarlett Letter on a more realistic ground. Chatterjee’s Rajmohan’s Wife did not see reputation as most of his novels did have an unhappy ending.

As we proceed we see how the narration is sad about the fact that the tenderness of a woman withers with tough time. Quoting  from the novel when Chatterjee portrays Matangini as “Some sorrow of deep anxiety had dimmed the lusture of her fair complexion. Yet her bloom was a full charm as that of the land lotus half-scorched and half radiant under the noonday sun her long locks were tied up in a careless knot on her shoulder; but some loose tresses had thrown away that bondage and were straying over forehead and cheeks” (3,3).

The beauty of Matangini mesmorises Rajmohan and the love affair is not established between Matangini and Madhav because of Rajmohan’s aristocratic impulse. Hawthorne’s Pryne somewhat takes over Matangini : “Matangini, I believe is a culmination point of many centuries’ psychological traumas that were stitched in the stereotypical Indian woman” (3). Hawthorne’s and Chatterjee’s novels produce characters of same trait of being stereotype.

Towards the end, Meenakshi Mukherjee being a critic to Chatterjee’s work asserts that there is fiery in Rajmohan’s character. She also marks the connection between both the villainous character of both the novels but puts Rajmohan on a higher platform than Chillingworth, for Bankim’s more realistic approach.

Therefore , the connection that the article establishes is put forth by the following lines : “What we gather from this scintillating commentary is that Bankim while portraying his iconoclastic heroine, Matangini, gives her means of expression. She is not just showed as in a dilemma of to be or not be but as a character full of passionate intensity” (4).

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