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Authors: Pallavi
Issue Date: 2002
Abstract: Shashi Deshpande is a contemporary Indo-English novelist who has presented the plight of middle-class Indian women, who are oscillating between traditional and modern roles. Shashi Deshpande was born in 1938 at Dharwar, a small town in north Karnataka. She is the daughter of the eminent Sanskrit scholar, Shriranga. The novelist has studied in Bombay and Bangalore and acquired degrees in Economics and law, as well as a postgraduate degree in English Literature and a diploma in Journalism. She is nowsettled in Bangalore along with her husband and son. Shashi Deshpande started her literary career in the 70's with short stories - her first story collection The Legacy andOther Stories came out in 1978. She has been honoured with Sahitya Academy Award in 1990 for her novel That Long Silence. She has also received Thirumathi Rangamala Prize for her novel Roots and Shadows. Till date Shashi Deshpande has produced five story collections and eight novels. Shashi Deshpande's works are based on purely Indian setting. She has illustrated the subordinate position of women in the orthodox tradition-bound Indian society. The novelist has poignantly projected the conventional norms designed by the patriarchal Indian social system for its women. These existing norms axe the rights of women and side-line their existence as human beings. The constricting social factors which are responsible for the suppression and exploitation of women have been exhibited by the novelist. She has taken up the issues of gender discrimination and social conditioning of the girl-child, husband-wife relationship : the aggressor and the suppressed, and the sexual exploitation of women within and outside the marital frame. Shashi Deshpande has assertively exhibited the plight of the girl-child who has to endure the trauma of gender-discrimination and social conditioning and is made to feel inferior to the male progeny since her childhood. Male child is given preference in the Indian social set-up as they are considered as the carrier of the family lineage. Social-conditioning restricts the flowering of a girl's personality as it lays stress on the inculcation of pre-defined feminine traits - self-abnegation, servility, endurance, patience and forgiveness. Marriage is set as an ultimate goal for girls. Women have to mould and transform themselves to suit the interests of their male counterparts and in this process suppress their self-identity. Shashi Deshpande has also projected the sexual exploitation of women which lacerates their right towards their own body. She has depicted that women have to endure the trauma of rape not only in the society but also in the marital life. Motherhood is often imposed on them. It is not an outcome ofmutual understanding as the husband-wife relationship is routinely viewed in terms of the master and slave relationship. It lacks companionship. Hence the novelist has depicted the possibility of man-woman relationship outside the family frame in all her novels. According to her a healthy and friendly relationship between man and woman gives them space to assert their true-selves and also a chance to ameliorate their weaknesses. Despite it, Shashi Deshpande has no revulsion towards men and emphasizes nurturing of healthy human relationships. Hence her female protagonists never negate family bonds. vi Shashi Deshpande advocates emancipation of women by dissolving rigid doctrines which marginalise them. She believes that economic independence and legal rights given to women are not enough to liberate women from the rigid doctrines. A change in the whole social set-up is required. According to her the emancipation of women does not necessarily negate the possibility of healthy and happy family life. Thus Shashi Deshpande's feminism suits to the Indian social milieu. The analysis ofher expository and creative works helps us to understand the status ofwomen in the contemporary Indian society.
Other Identifiers: Ph.D
Appears in Collections:DOCTORAL THESES (HSS)

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