3 Powerful Characters And Their Voice For Women Empowerment And Social Issues In The Novels Of Rabindranath Tagore
The literary world has produced innumerable gems, who though their innovative thinking and creativity have brought about a constructive change within the society. One of these gems is Shri Rabindranath Tagore also known as Gurudev by his countless followers and fans.
He was an eminent poet and novelist, whose writings touched the mind and soul of people not only in India, but across the world. He was a progressive thinker right from his early childhood. He was only 6 years old when he started penning down his emotions and feelings for the first time. He was one of the Indian laureates, who believed in ensuring women empowerment using the power of his pen as his strongest weapon.
His dedication to this cause is evident from the manner in which he presented the female characters in his writings. There is hardly a female character portrayed by him in his novels and stories, who is not bold, determined and true fighter for her own freedom. He was a freethinker, who possessed the courage to speak openly about women’s liberation, justice, freedom, equality, power and dignity, and their rights. A large number of people are ignorant of the fact that, Rabindranath Tagore was also a great painter. Like his literary work, many of his paintings too presented women in various avatars. This in itself is enough to put to rest any doubts regarding his modernistic views and his commitment towards ensuring that women were granted equal rights and respect in society.
Being a diehard fan of Rabindranath Tagore since my childhood, I strongly believe that every female born on this earth has her own unique identity. However, this identity should not be restricted only to the various roles played by a female in her everyday life. In addition to being a daughter, wife or mother, she should be able to define herself as an individual. She should be granted the right to be herself and not forced to hide behind the identities forced upon her by the society. In order to establish this unique identity, she must stand for her own rights.
Sadly, despite the numerous social advances that have become a mark of the modern 21st century, most women, including the well-educated ones, find themselves bound to age-old traditions. Even today, countless females are victims of oppression in the form of domestic violence, adultery, bad marriages and gender discrimination across the various strata of society. It is my strong appeal to all such women…….. FIGHT FOR YOUR OWN RIGHTS & RESPECT YOURSELF FIRST AS IT IS THE ONLY WAY TO GET RESPECT FROM OTHERS.
In this context, I would again like to refer to my favorite writer and guide, Shri Rabindranath Tagore. As I mentioned before, his powerful presentation of women is a source of inspiration for many, including me. I am especially motivated by the following three characters, which Guruji has penned in his writings as the strong females willing to fight for their rights irrespective of the consequences they faced.
Mrinmoyee is the name of the titular character in the short story named “Samapti”, written by Rabindranath Tagore. She is a free-spirited girl who loves to live life on her own terms and conditions. She prefers doing almost everything which for the society forbids for a prospective bride. She is like a free bird eager to explore the open skies. She is a true “Tomboy” who loves climbing trees, playing with boys and is not interested in typical womanly behavior or their love for jewelry.
However, Mrinmoyee starts facing problems when she is expected to adapt to confinements of a married life. Even as her young mind is churning with many unanswered questions, she refuses to give up her identity as an individual and a woman. I am truly, deeply and madly in love with this character as Mrinmoyee is a perfect example of a independent and free-spirited woman.
Charulata is the leading lady from the novel “Nastanirh – The Broken Nest”, an extremely popular work of Gurudev. She is a married to a well established and busy journalist, for whom work comes first, leaving her with a sense of loneliness. Charulata is very passionate towards music and poetry, but sadly, her husband doesn’t have the energy or the interest to appreciate his wife’s talent. This lack of attention from her husband alienates her emotionally from him. At the same time she finds solace in her brother-in-law Amal, who shares her passion. Their common interests bring them closer and soon the two fall in love.
But unfortunately, Amal does not have the courage to acknowledge her love and professes it to be nothing more than an infatuation. But Charulata defies all tradition and daringly confesses her love for Amal and that too in front of his husband. This makes her husband realize his fault and he requests Charulata for a chance to make a fresh start. However, she boldly denies making a compromise and prefers to stay alone. Charulata emerges as a woman, who refuses to fall prey to social customs and erase her emotions and her identity as a woman in the process.
Mrinal is the main female character in Rabindranath Tagore’s The Wife’s Letter. Like her creator, she uses the most perfect weapon, namely her pen, to revolt against the injustice faced by the women in the society. She cherishes a secret passion for writing poetry and which is unknown to her in-laws even after 15 years of marriage. In fact the members of her in-law’s family actually overlook the fact that besides being the “Mejo Bau” (the wife of the 2nd son of a family), Mrinal possesses some hidden talent, namely that of writing beautiful and inspirational poems. However, she leaves her in-laws home, when despite her best efforts, she fails to save her sister-in-law’s sister, Bindu. Bindu, intentionally sets herself on fire to free herself from her failed abusive marriage to a madman.
Mrinal, cannot bear to live in a family which considered their daughter-in-law’s sister to be a burden and forced her to marry a madman to get rid of this burden. She writes a letter to her husband informing him of her unwillingness to return home. She also expresses her anguish at the society in general for making it almost impossible for a married girls in an abusive marriage to go back to her parents home by not supporting their decision. She also blames her husband for restricting her to the role of just being a daughter –in-law to his family and completely ignoring her qualities and talents. What actually impressed me about Mrinal is that she had the guts to CALL A SPADE A SPADE.
Mrinmoyee, Charulata, and Mrinal are my 3 favorite female characters created by Nobel Prize winner Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore, at a time when such actions by women were even unthinkable. One common feature in the above 3 characters is the pride of being a woman and having their own set of values with a unique identity. They firmly denied accepting the rights and wrongs as dictated by the society but rather held on their own views of the same based on their understanding and intellect. These characters teach us that a girl should have a dream which should be her very own. In addition, it is the responsibility of parents to pamper and support the dream of their girl child and make them stand on their own feet. This is more important than training them just to be a good wife, daughter-in-law or a mother. Allow your girl child to decide her own future and become an inspiration for many others in the society.