NCERT Class 10 History Women and the Novel

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Women And The Novel Class 10 Social Science NCERT

Class 10 Social Science students should refer to the following NCERT Book chapter Women And The Novel in standard 10. This NCERT Book for Grade 10 Social Science will be very useful for exams and help you to score good marks

Women And The Novel NCERT Class 10

Women and the Novel

Many people got worried about the effects of the novel on readers who were taken away from their real surroundings into an imaginary world where anything could happen. Some of them wrote in newspapers and magazines, advising people to stay away from the immoral influence of novels. Women and children were often singled out for such advice: they were seen as easily corruptible. Some parents kept novels in the lofts in their houses, out of their children’s reach. Young people often read them in secret. This passion was not limited only to the youth. Older women – some of whom could not read – listened with fascinated attention to popular Tamil novels read out to them by their grandchildren – a nice reversal of the familiar grandma’s tales!

But women did not remain mere readers of stories written by men; soon they also began to write novels. In some languages, the early creations of women were poems, essays or autobiographical pieces. In the early decades of the twentieth century, women in south India also began writing novels and short stories. A reason for the popularity of novels among women was that it allowed for a new conception of womanhood. Stories of love – which was a staple theme of many novels – showed women who could choose or refuse their partners and relationships. It showed women who could to some extent control their lives. Some women authors also wrote about women who changed the world of both men and women.

Rokeya Hossein (1880-1932) was a reformer who, after she was widowed, started a girl’s school in Calcutta. She wrote a satiric fantasy in English called Sultana’s Dream (1905) which shows a topsyturvy world in which women take the place of men. Her novel Padmarag also showed the need for women to reform their condition by their own actions.

It is not surprising that many men were suspicious of women writing novels or reading them. This suspicion cut across communities. Hannah Mullens, a Christian missionary and the author of Karuna o Phulmonir Bibaran (1852), reputedly the first novel in Bengali, tells herreaders that she wrote in secret. In the twentieth century, Sailabala Ghosh Jaya, a popular novelist, could only write because her husband protected her. As we have seen in the case of the south, women and girls were often discouraged from reading novels.

4.1 Caste Practices, ‘Lower-Castes’ and Minorities

As you have seen, Indulekha was a love story. But it was also about an issue that was hotly debated at the time when the novel was written. This concerned the marriage practices of upper-caste Hindus in Kerala, especially the Nambuthiri Brahmins and the Nayars.

Nambuthiris were also major landlords in Kerala at that time; and a large section of the Nayars were their tenants. In late-nineteenthcentury Kerala, a younger generation of English-educated Nayar men who had acquired property and wealth on their own, began arguing strongly against Nambuthiri alliances with Nayar women. They wanted new laws regarding marriage and property. 

The story of Indulekha is interesting in the light of these debates. Suri Nambuthiri, the foolish landlord who comes to marry Indulekha, is the focus of much satire in the novel. The intelligent heroine rejects him and chooses Madhavan, the educated and handsome Nayar as her husband, and the young couple move to Madras, where Madhavan joins the civil service.

Suri Nambuthiri, desperate to find a partner for himself, finally marries a poorer relation from the same family and goes away pretending that he has married Indulekha! Chandu Menon clearly wanted his readers to appreciate the new values of his hero and heroine and criticise the ignorance and immorality of Suri Nambuthiri. Novels like Indirabai and Indulekha were written by members of the upper castes, and were primarily about upper-caste characters. But not all novels were of this kind.


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NCERT Class 10 History Print and Censorship
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NCERT Class 10 History The Reading Mania
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NCERT Class 10 History The Sense of Collective Belonging
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NCERT Class 10 History Towards Civil Disobedience
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