Rama Mehta’s Inside the Haveli: A Feminist Interpretation
– Dr. Muktaja V. Mathkari
The article discusses in the light of Rama Mehta’s Inside the haveli the issues of female rebellion and retreat of women in the haveli. It brings out the patriarchal mentalities of the society during a particular period. The article also deals with the issues on how “voicing of protests, alienates her from the prevailing culture on one hand and on the other makes her a participant in the traditional hegemonic practices which oppress her.”
The article further looks into women and her space, the status and position she holds in such a society. It talks about empowerment, survival and a quest for a lost identity in a male dominated society. Images in the novel Inside the Haveli are also looked into by the author. It discusses the protagonist, Geeta who despite being well educated, is stuck in the shams of patriarchy. She has been portrayed as submissive, one who has not made any effort to demolish the male dominance even though the way Rama Mehta has shown her character is restless and there is a spark in her to overcome such dominance, she is unable to do so.
The article further discusses the peripherilisation of women, where they are never given a chance to enjoy a central position in the family. The article reiterates this by stating S. Bhattacharya’s opinion on the marginalization of women in traditional Hindu families and he goes on to say that the writers could have avoided the old tradition where women are the victims of domestic violence and emotional privation. Hence, Rama Mehta’s writing is seen as an ‘othering’ of females which not only subordinates their position in the society but also silences their voices in a family. They are expected to maintain the household and take care of the children as a wife, mother, and daughter-in- law or mother-in-law. Even in the 21st century, when in India girls have repeatedly proved themselves competent for every profession, the deep rooted gender discrimination continues among even the affluent and educated people living a so called modern life in the metro cities.
The novel’s latter half shows Geeta’s search for an independent identity which is seen by her ‘moving’ within her traditionally specified confines. The author then talks about transgressing boundaries and spaces by bringing in the sub-plot of the novel through the character of Lakhsmi. It clearly discusses the male and female spaces in the novel and the stark difference between the two spaces. It talks about how still women are stable and wandering women like Lakshmi are evil- a typical notion of patriarchal society. Despite the alienation faced by Geeta in the prevailing culture she still is a participant in the culture. As the novel progresses she is seen to find a space within the limits of that culture. Her ambiguous nature can thus be seen as an amalgamation of both tradition and culture.
The researcher hence with the help of this article will attempt to study the dilemma in the characters of the females in Rama Mehta’s Inside the Haveli. This article gives a direct insight to the researches done on Rama Mehta’s Inside the haveli.
Mathkri.V.Muktaja. “Rama Mehta’s Inside the Haveli: A Feminist Interpretation”. Academic Research. (1-9)
Department of English
23 June 2016
Changing Patterns of Man- Woman Relationship: An interview with Professor Yogendra Singh
– Joya Chakravarty
The article discusses issues or rather the opinions voiced on gender, gender roles and men and women relationships in various ways. It focuses on Prof. Yogendra Singh’s view on how the gendered patters have changed or are undergoing a change in pattern.
The article then talks about gender issues in contemporary sociology. In contemporary sociology the notion of sexuality and gender roles has changed through social transformations. Reform movement in India has helped awaken the self- consciousness in people regarding gender issues. Other movements like freedom movement and Gandhian movement focused on man- woman relationship where along with the husbands the wives were vocal about their rights and freedom. Hence, compatibility in work also established a better understanding of relationships.
The article then looks into the challenges faced at that time. It talks about the Marxist formulation of gender where marriages are not only about social security but economic security as well. This can be seen in terms of property relationships where women are seen merely a figure of family bonding learning a language beneficial for her family where as a men have the liberty to enjoy their freedom using male- dominance. The article then looks at the patriarchy and matriarchy in functional terms. It states how they might be different otherwise but on a functional level the way gender issues are treated similarly.
A shift from freedom movement to industrialization also shows a major change from cultural, economic and material conditions to pervasive issues like- role of power, role of body etc. This gave rise to the Feminist movement which differed from the Marxist movement on various grounds. Unlike the Marxists which focused on institutions and power, feminists gave importance to power in relation with women. Female sexuality was given a new kind of exclusiveness which to some extent helped balancing the imbalanced power equation.
The interviewee Yogendra Singh focuses primarily on gender, cultural identity, power equations etc. looking in the cause of such debates and discussion. The article questions its audience whether all these discussions are a result of education and globalization and are Indian women still at the crossroads. The article also touches the aspects of English writing in India. Indian writing creates a certain social background for its audience a certain boundary which defines the nexus in that particular place.
In Rama Mehta’s Inside the Haveli not only breaks the stereotypes of the patriarchal society but also challenges its structures by portraying a female or a homemaker as a decision maker. However, this superiority is only established in the absence of her husband who is otherwise projected as the one limiting the boundaries for her.
Chakravarty. Joya. “Changing Patterns of Man- Woman Relationship: An interview with Professor Yogendra Singh.” Gender Issues- Attestations and Contestations. Ed. Rajul Bhargva. Jaipur: Rawat Publication 2010. 251-256. Print.
As a little kid I always loved writing long letters to my grandfather narrating him my entire week’s schedule. He’d always write to me asking me to send to him the minute details possible. This habit got me to describe things clearly while I wrote to him. My early childhood memories also remind me of writing letters to my brother on Raksha- Bandhan (an Indian festival where the sister ties a thread of protection to her brother which saves him from all evil forces). I’d write to him how I missed being with him on such an auspicious day and that may he always be happy and successful.
I wouldn’t call myself an intense writer as I don’t write that often. Except writing academically I haven’t given creative writing a try. I remember writing poems for my school magazines which were often guided by my mother. I somehow never thought I could be creative enough to write any piece, rather I also feel I don’t have the courage to show people what I write. I think when it comes to writing academically I feel much more confident in writing, may be because it is guided writing. At college level I have worked on a couple of research articles and written research papers, this has helped boost my confidence in writing.
My initial experience as an academic writer wasn’t a smooth sail either. I wrote in a non-linear fashion with my thoughts all over the place. Also, I wasn’t techno savvy so the old school method of penning down my thoughts on paper was the only way I could write. Eventually I started typing and tried to write in a linear fashion. I am still in the process of learning a lot of things. I hope to not limit myself to academic writing and hopefully in the near future see myself as a confident, creative writer.
Department of English
16 June 2016
Memories of the Second Sex: Gender and Sexuality in Women’s Writing
– Malashri Lal
In the essay the author discusses women in a literary space and offers to its reader a paradigmatic tale from past and a contemporary present. She talks about male aggression and female victimization in her essay. Women in literary spaces are always questioned on their ability to write. Using Virginia Woolf’s novel “Beat (him) black and blue” and Trinh T. Minh-ha’s contemporary visual narrative “Naked Spaces” the essayist supports her arguments.
The author focuses on, “the relationship between woman and her living spaces… as the very site of difference on which the Universal and the Particular (historical, cultural, political) are at play. The article focuses on discursive universalism talking about how men and women should be equal. It also brings to the readers’ notice, the concept of reflective solidarity.
The author then questions the subjective existence of the male over the female who has always been titled as the ‘Other.’ Sexuality can hence be viewed as a culturally constructed difference. The essay gives an overview of different cultures and how conflicts of gender and sexuality are prevalent in women’s writing. Discursive universalism also questions whether all alternatives are equal. Between the ‘I’ of identity politics and the ‘Other’ is a hypothetical perspective of the third. The ‘other’ becomes a third space in the interaction, which is a space of difference according to Dean.
The essay ends by calling reflective solidarity a risky business as it involves taking a responsibility for other and those around.
In Rama Mehta’s Inside the Haveli a woman writer is seen to break stereotypes using a less privileged woman to fight for her rights and freeing herself from the clutches of male dominance. At the same time the main plot focuses on a modern girl married in an orthodox stringent family who despite of having all the privileges of economy and education is seen to be overshadowed by the patriarchal dominance. Hence the ‘other’ is created in the novel by the dominance of ‘I’. This essay hence explains how subjugation of women has been rampant in any domain irrespective of any cultural, social or economic boundaries. If they are subjugated in writing, then they are even dominated in domestic spaces and professional fields. The essay hence explains to its reader an overview of the importance of an individual voice for a woman which will establish her not as the Other but as an individual with equal- rights and opportunities like her male counterpart.
Lal. Malashri. “Memories of the Second Sex: Gender and Sexuality in Women’s Writing.” Gender Issues- Attestations and Contestations. Ed. Rajul Bhargva. Jaipur: Rawat Publication 2010. 172-182. Print.
Department of English
10th June 2016
Gender and Social Stratification in Contemporary India
– K.L. Sharma
The essay discusses how the politics of women’s studies has completely overpowered the real problems relating to gender and social stratification. The essay looks into the issues such as how women have been overpowered by men, how the present social sciences understand the patriarchal traditions and ways of thinking. The essay also gives a brief explanation in understanding the definition of maleness.
The essay then talks about how the available studies on women are biased, they are written in favour of urban middle class women overlooking the rest. Women are treated as ‘Object’ in a society where women are situated only in domestic spaces. They are merely seen as a symbol for sexuality or a means to reproduce and are subordinated by men. The essay argues on why reforms and legislations haven’t produced desired results to erase such gendered and social stratification.
The author then gives an overview of how Indian women are treated and subdued. Tracing it from the time of child marriages, Sati etc he states that the cause for such practices is a result of weak Indian state. A woman in India is always associated to a male in order to gain an identity. Hence she is always the ‘Other’ or a mere ‘object.’ The essay then uses Mann’s advocacy which states that how stratification is gendered and gender is stratified.
According to Kabeer, “gender forms a basis in all forms of social inequality.” The only way to let go such gendered inequalities is to deconstruct the old notions of the stereotyped constructed around male and female, woman and male. The essay talks about breaking such binaries. K.L. Sharma then talks about the preconceived notions about feminism being misconstrued as an area of studies against men. Further in his essay he discusses the purdah system prevalent in India and how it is a perfect example to understand ‘gendering’ of social relations. A girl’s education is limited to the idea of acquiring or maintaining a family status. She is a always in relation with a male or a family and hence, even her achieved status in society is seen as derived.
The essay further focuses on the issue of women as the object of human gaze, they seen as actors and subjects. It also focuses on women being subjects and not being able to get an equal say a men or treated at par. The essay gives an overall view of such issues and states real life examples of such gendered/ stratified prevailing practices. The essay questions its audience by asking, if woman is the centre of everything and nothing can move and work without a women then why are they less important than men?
Sharma. K.L. “Gender and Social Stratification in Contemporary India.” Gender Issues- Attestations and Contestations. Ed. Rajul Bhargva. Jaipur: Rawat Publication 2010. 172-182. Print.