TEXTBOOK QUESTIONS SOLVED
Q1.Explain the following:
(a) Social changes in Britain which led to an increase in women readers.
(b) What actions of Robinson Crusoe make us see him as a typical coloniser?
(c) After 1740, the readership of novels began to include poorer people.
(d) Novelists in colonial India wrote for a political cause.
(a) In the 18th century, the middle classes in Britain became more prosperous. Women got more leisure to read as well as write novels. And novels began exploring the world of women, i.e. their emotions and identities, their experiences and problems. There were several novels that were based on domestic life – a theme about which women were allowed to speak with authority. They drew upon their experience, wrote about family life and gained public recognition.
(b) The hero of Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe (1719) is projected as an adventurer and slave trader whose ship gets destroyed and he reaches an island. There Crusoe mistreats black people considering them inferior creatures as he himself is a white. He rescues a `native’ and makes him his slave and names him Friday without asking for his name.
(c) In the initial years of development the poor were excluded from reading novels as they were too expensive for them to afford. But soon, people had easier access to books with the introduction of
circulating libraries in 1740. Technological improvements in printing brought down the price of books and innovations in marketing led to expanded sales.
(d) The history written by colonial historians has always projected Indians as weak, divided and dependent on the British. This was not acceptable to the new Indian administrators and intellectuals They wanted to see Indians as independent minded and the novel provided them with opportunity to give shape to their desires. Bhudeb Mukhopadhyay’s (1827-94) Anguriya Binimoy (1857) was the first historical novel written in Bengal whose hero Shivaji engages in many battles against a clever and treacherous Aurangzeb. Man Singh persuades Shivaji to make peace with Aurangzeb. Realising that Aurangzeb intended to confine him as a house prisoner, Shivaji escapes and returns to battle. What gives him courage is his belief that he is a nationalist fighting for the freedom of Hindus. The imagined nation of the novel was so powerful that it could inspire actual political movements. Bankim’s Anandmath is a novel about a secret Hindu armed force that fights Muslims to establish a Hindu kingdom. It was a novel that inspired freedom fighters. The novel helped in popularising the sense of belonging to a common nation.
Q2. Outline the changes in technology and society which led to an increase in readers of the novel in eighteenth-century Europe.
(i) The invention of the print in the 18th century led to the popularity of the novels because now it became quite easy to print novels in large numbers. In ancient times, manuscripts were handwritten and hence their availability was very limited.
(ii) The novels dealt with many social issues such as the relationship between love and marriage, proper conduct for men and women and so on. Common people got attracted towards such novels.
(iii) Novels appealed to all sections of the society—middle class people like the shopkeepers and the clerks as well as aristocratic and gentlemanly classes
(iv) Novels not only attacked the ills of the society but also suggested remedies so they were much liked by one and all.
(v) The novels became a popular medium of entertainment among the middle class.
(vi) Most of the novelists used the vernacular, the language that is spoken by common people. Novels involved women also.
(vii) For a long time the poor were excluded from reading novels as they were very expensive. But soon, people had easier access to books with the introduction of the circulating libraries in 1740.
(viii)Technological improvements in printing brought down the price of books.
Q3. Write a note on:
(a) The Oriya novel
(b) Jane Austen’s portrayal of women
(c) The picture of the new middle class which the novel Pariksha-Guru portrays.
(a) In 1877-78, Ramashankar Ray, a dramatist, serialised the first Oriya novel, Saudamani. But he could not complete it. Within thirty years, Orissa produced a major novelist in Fakir Mohan Senapati (1843-1918). The title of his novel Chaa Mana Atha Guntha (1902) translates as six acres and thirty-two decimals of land. It announces a new kind of novel that would deal with the question of land and its possession.
(b) Jane Austen’s novels give us a glimpse of the world of women in quiet rural society in early-19th-century Britain. They make the reader think about a society which encouraged women to look for good marriages and find wealthy husbands. The very first sentence of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice states: “It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.” This observation allows us to see the behaviour of the main characters who are pre-occupied with marriage and money.
(c) Srinivas Das’s Par iksha-Guru (The Master Examiner) reflects the inner and outer world of the newly emerging middle classes. The characters in the novel are caught in the difficulty of adapting to colonised society but at the same time preservingtheir own cultural identity. The world of colonial modernity seems to be both frightening and irresistible to the characters. The novel tried to teach the reader the ‘right way’ to live and to be mature and practical, to remain rooted in the values of their own tradition and culture, and to live with dignity and honour.
Q1. Discuss some of the social changes in nineteenth-century Britain which Thomas Hardy and Charle:4. Dickens wrote about.
Ans. Europe entered the industrial age in the 19th century. Factories were established, business profits increased and the economy grew. But these changes brought several problems for the workers. The cities expanded in an unregulated way. Workers got work but their payment was not fair. The unemployed poor had no option but to take shelter in workhouses. The growth of industry was accompanied by an economic philosophy which celebrated the pursuit of profit and undervalued workers. Some novelists of that time such as Charles Dickens and Thomas Hardy were very critical of these developments. Charles Dickens wrote about the serious effects of industrialisation on people’s lives and characters. For instance; in his novel Hard Times he describes a fictitious industrial town where workers are presented as ‘hands’, as if they had no identity other than operators of machines. In another novel Oliver Twist (1838) Dickens focused on the terrible conditions of urban life under industrial capitalism. Another novelist Thomas Hardy in his novel Mayor of Casterbridge (1886), wrote about traditional rural communities of England that were fading. This was the time when farmers fenced off land, bought machines and employed labourers to produce for the market. The old rural culture with its independent farmers were vanishing.
Q2. Summarise the concern in both nineteenth-century Europe and India about women reading novels. What does this suggest about how women were viewed?
Ans. Europe: Women in the 19th century Europe were very progressive. They began reading and writing novels. They drew upon their experience, wrote about family life and earned public recognition. But this change in the world of woman-folk was not liked by many people. They feared that women would now neglect their traditional role as wives and mothers and homes would be in disorder.
India: In India too several men were suspicious of women writing novels or reading them. They thought that novels would corrupt—specially women and children. But this did not stop women from reading or writing novels.
We can now infer that women in general were discouraged from reading novels. They were viewed as wives and mothers who had a lot of work to do within the four walls of their homes. They must devote their time to the welfare of their family_ Their role was limited to home and hearth.
Q3. In what ways was the novel in colonial India useful for both the colonisers as well as the nationalists?
Ans. ‘Vernacular’ novels were a valuable source of information on native life and customs. As outsiders, the British knew little about life inside Indian households and the information provided in the novels proved useful for them in governing Indian society, with its large variety of communities and castes. The new novels in Indian languages often had descriptions of domestic life. They showed how people dressed, performed religious worship, and so on. Some of these books were translated into English by British administrators or Christian missionariesIndians used the novel to criticise the defects in their society and to suggest remedies. Writers like Viresalingam used the novel mainly to propagate their ideas about society among a wider readership.
Novels helped establishing a relationship with the past. Many of them told thrilling stories of adventures and intrigues set in the past. Through glorified account of past, these novels helped in creating a sense of national pride among their Indian readers. Novels helped creating a sense of collective belonging on the basis of one’s language. The novels also made their readers familiar with the people in other parts speaking different languages. The way characters spoke in a novel began to indicate their region, class or caste.
Q4. Describe how the issue of caste was included in novels in India. By referring to any two novels, discuss the ways in which they tried to make readers think about existing social issues.
Ans. The novel Indulekha deals with an important issue, i.e. the marriage practices of upper-caste Hindus in Kerala, especially the Nambuthiri Brahmins and the Nayars. Caste seems to be an important factor in establishing marriage alliances.
Nambuthiris were major landlords in Kerala at that time and a large section of the Nayars were their tenants. In the late-19th century Kerala, a younger generation of English-educated Nayar men after acquiring property and wealth on their own, began arguing against Nambuthiri alliances with Nayar women. They wanted new laws regarding marriage and property.
The story of Indulekha is worth-mentioning here. Suri Nambuthiri, the foolish landlord comes to marry Indulekha, who is very intelligent. She rejects him and marries Madhavan who is an educated civil servant. The novelist Chandu Menon wanted his readers to appreciate the new values of his hero and heroine and criticise the ignorance and immorality of Suri Nambuthiri.
Another novel Saraswativgayam was written by Potheri Kunjambu, a lower-caste writer from north Kerala. This novel attacks on caste oppression. The novel revolves around a young man who happens to be an ‘untouchable’. He has to leave his village to save himself from the cruelty of his Brahmin landlord. He converts to Christianity, obtains modern education and returns to his village as a judge in the local court. Meanwhile, the villagers, thinking that the landlord’s men had killed him, file a case. At the conclusion of the trial, the judge reveals his identity. The Nambuthiri Brahmin repents and reforms ways.
Thus, the novel highlights the importance of education for the upliftment of the lower castes.
Q5. Describe the ways in which the novel in India attempted to create a sense of pan-Indian belonging.
Ans. The history written by colonial historians projected Indians as weak, divided and dependent on the British. This was not acceptable to the new Indian administrators and intellectuals. The traditional Puranic stories of the past also could not convince those educated and working under the English system. Such minds wanted new view of the past that would show that Indians could be independent minded and had been so in history. They imagined the nation to be full of adventure, heroism, romance and sacrifice – qualities that could not be found in the offices and streets of the nineteenth-century world. The novel provided them with opportunity to give shape to their desires. Inclusion of various classes in the novel also created a sense of pan-Indian belonging. Premchand’s novels are filled with all kinds of powerful characters drawn from all levels of society.
• Imagine that you are a historian in 3035 AD. You have just located two novels which were written in the twentieth century. What do they tell you about society and customs of the time?
Ans. Students are suggested to develop their own answer on the basis of the hints given below:
__The novels dealt with many social issues such as love and marriage, proper conduct for men and women and so on. So common people were attracted towards them.
__Novels not only attacked the ills of the society but also suggested remedies so they were much liked by one and all.
__The invention of the print in the 18th century led to the popularity of the novels because now it became quite easy to print novels in large numbers. In ancient times, manuscripts were handwritten and hence their availability was very limited.
__The novels became a popular medium of entertainment among the middle class.
__They criticised the defects in the society and suggested remedies.
__Novels helped in establishing a relationship with the past. These novels helped in creating a sense of national pride among their Indian readers.