AMAR JIBAN- RASSUNDARI DEVI Q) How far is the narrator in 'Amar Jiban' critical of patriarchal practices/ social oppression of women in the 19th Century.
Most of the works of Women Writing in India date from the late nineteenth century, when reform movements awarded the ‘condition of women’ top billing among the various social and moral concerns of the day. During the social reform movements cultural critics brought many of the ‘crimes’ committed against women to center stage. Purdah, sati, child marriage and the harsh treatment of widows became the public “blot on India’s self respect”,the much publicised injustices signalling the country’s moral decay. But while the reformers denounced specific atrocities perpetrated against women, they were not prepared to blame the underlying social system. In fact the primary concerns of the reform movements were not the primary themes in women’s writings. The excerpt from Pandita Ramabai Saraswati’s book The High Caste Hindu Woman, for example, catalogues not specific problems but the assumptions, customs and conditions of traditional marriage that turned virtually all brides into indentured servants. Even in the writings of many authors who outwardly uphold tarditional values and customs,there is a budding awareness that women suffered unjustly. In the excerpt from Rassundari Devi’s autobiography, the author details her loneliness and the hardships of raising eleven children and tending to a large household. She has performed her duties without complaint and thanked God for her strength,earning praise as the paragon of a patient ,self-abasing Bengali housewife and mother. Yet her distress cannot be suppressed: “Alas my God,why did you let me be born as a human being?it is indeed a very rare fortune to be born a human being. Birds and beasts are inferior beings. And to think of the sin I have committed even after being fortunate enough to be born a...
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