Portrayal of womanhood in fiction of Shashi Deshpande.

Author: Atrey, Mukta M.

Advisor: Kirpal, Viney

Educational level: Ph.D

Discipline: Humanities and Social Sciences

University: Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay

Abstract: Shashi Deshpande has emerged, in recent years, as one of the more sensitive and versatile Indian woman writers writing inEnglish. Her novels and short stories explore the psyche of themiddle-class educated Indian woman, focusing primarily on herdilemma at being caught between modernity which impliesfreedom, individuality and self-expression and the patriarchaland traditional values that continue to permeate contemporaryIndian society. This thesis attempts an analysis of the femalecharacters in Deshpande's fiction from a point of view thattries to reconcile the basic tenets of feminism withcontemporary Indian reality. Since Deshpande's fiction is deeplyrooted in the context of the Indian middle-class, a culturespecific approach is necessary for its examination. Deshpandeadvocates a balance between a realistic perception of the con-temporary social situation in India and the fundamental idea offeminism that a woman be recognized as an individual in her ownright and not be restricted to the stereotypical roles andimages daughter, wife and mother. This thesis attempts toanalyze Deshpande's work in this light, adapting Western feminist theories of gender-based bias etc. to suit the specificIndian cultural context. In addition to an analysis of the female characters, the thesis briefly examines the depiction ofDeshpande's male characters, for contrast. It also focuses upon her perception and attitude towards the human condition in general, and her contribution as a writer.

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Keywords: English literature - Indian authors, Women's studies (India), Feminist literature (India), Indian English Literature, Women's Literature, Femine Criticism, Culture-specific Feminism, Portrayal of Women, Position of Women.



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