World Literature 2309
February 10, 2015
Feudal and Bengal Renaissance values Feudal values are a characteristic that most Indian people were raised on, were made to believe, and those values were made the norm for many years. The caste system was turning off people’s brains and sympathy towards other humans. It made the society one that could be ruled easier by the British because of their closed minds. Women had no voice or any kind of equality that would make them valuable as human beings or valuable in any aspect of life. Women were looked as property simply for being women. Tagore helped the Indian people to slowly realize what they were doing to each other with stories such as The Conclusion, Purification, and Fury Appeased. He gave people a perspective that eventually gave way to Renaissance values. Equality and education amongst the people were monumental values that he wanted to install in society no matter what class or gender one was.
Feudal Values The caste system separated the people not only in their minds but in actual reality. Tagore shines light on this in Purification. An untouchable, by any means could not touch a person in higher rank than him and if “by accident a sweeper brushed on something or someone in the crowd” (Outta and Robinson 325). His ultimate fate was death like in the story Purification. Garindra could not help the sweeper because his wife being a bigot, could not come to see the sweeper as a human being but rather saw no value in the sweeper as a human worth any value. Although Garindra does sympathize with the sweeper, his wife Kalika, does not and thus showing how common cruel acts against humanity are to them. The caste system “emphasizes the negative side of an individual- his separateness (Dutta and Robinson 205). Just as it does with lower classes, it does to women. The mindset of feudal values hurts everyone but mostly women since they have no opinion or future in anything except in being a stay at home mother that runs the house. Tagore uses The Conclusion to give an example of heartless treatment towards women when Mrinmayi is selected to marry Apurba. After the beginning of her training on how to be a good housewife, Mrinmayi “thinks she had been sentenced to life imprisonment with hanging at the end of it… she said ‘Im not going to get married’” (Outta and Robinson 275). Even after she expresses discontent towards marriage and her unwillingness to do it, the wedding proceeds. She literally has no input on her future.
Society gave feudal values power by agreeing on them even though they were wrong. Tagore does well on illustrating that harsh conditions women had to endure in feudal marriage. In the story Fury Appeased, Giribala is a sixteen year old girl who is married. She is getting bored with her life since she has nothing to do all day and her husband is never home. She becomes frustrated and recites ”that her husband is out of her control” (Radice 182). He is not a husband but a strange drifting figure. Eventually, when he does see her, they argue and “he grabbed hold of her, wrenched off her armlets…, kicked her, and left her” (Radice 187) simply because she would not give him the key to her valuables. She is one of the few female characters that stands up to her husband. Giribala is a character that defies all feudal values and goes for what she wants. She refuses to stay defeated which is something not many women thought they could do. She comes back stronger and becomes a symbol of hope after she follows her dreams of being on stage. All along Tagore is paving way for a different kind of tolerable thinking.
Bengal Renaissance Values One of the most important and essential Renaissance values is the empowerment of women. “It was widely appreciated that India cannot rise if half the nation lags behind and remains ignorant and uneducated” (Prasad Singh 60), as retold by Singh. It was being communicated and agreed upon that women could have