Women empowerment


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Women empowerment

  2. 2. ACKNOWLEDGEMENT First and foremost, I would like to thank, Jayaprakash Kanniappan for the endless love and support that spurred me to complete this study. I dedicate this research to you JP. I am also grateful to Dr. Agnes Liau Wei Lin who provided profound guidance and supported this study from the beginning. Thank you for your patience Dr. Agnes. I am also grateful to my father Mr. Kanni Subramaniam and my mother Mdm. Thevi Thangaveloo for their blessings and for tolerating my long absence. I thank my dearest friends Lam See Wei, Ravichandrika Alagirisamy and Usha Rani Marimuthu for their sincere support. My lovely sister and brother in law, Jayalatchimy Kanni and Raman Krishnan, I thank them for the comfort and help they offered at the most needed moments. I thank my most dear friend, Jacqueline Asha Anand, for her kind help and prayers. Thank you so much Jacqueline. Last but not least, I would also love to thank Kanjana and Agelya for being there for me. Thank you 2
  3. 3. Table of Contents LIST OF FIGURES .................................................................................................................. 5 ABSTRAK ................................................................................................................................. 6 ABSTRACT .............................................................................................................................. 7 CHAPTER 1 .................................................................................................................................. 8 1.0 INTRODUCTION ........................................................................................................ 8 1.1 NARAYAN: THE CREATOR OF MALGUDI ..................................................... 10 1.2 THE STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM ............................................................. 12 1.3 OBJECTIVES ........................................................................................................ 14 1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS .................................................................................... 14 1.5 THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY ............................................................... 14 1.6 LIMITATIONS OF THE STUDY ......................................................................... 15 1.7 DEFINITION OF TERMS .................................................................................... 16 1.8 SUMMARY............................................................................................................ 19 CHAPTER 2 ................................................................................................................................ 21 2.0 INTRODUCTION ...................................................................................................... 21 2.1 FOUCAULT AND POWER ...................................................................................... 24 2.2 FOUCAULT AND FEMINISM ................................................................................ 28 2.3 POWER AND INDIAN WOMEN............................................................................. 34 2.4 NARAYAN: A CRITICAL RESPONSE .................................................................. 38 2.5 SUMMARY ................................................................................................................. 49 CHAPTER 3 ................................................................................................................................ 52 3.0 INTRODUCTION ...................................................................................................... 52 3.1 Thematic Analysis ....................................................................................................... 52 3.2 Selected Novels & Theory .......................................................................................... 53 3
  4. 4. 3.3 Interpretation of the Analysis .................................................................................... 54 CHAPTER 4 ................................................................................................................................ 55 4.0 INTRODUCTION ...................................................................................................... 55 4.1 FREEDOM AND POWER RELATIONS IN THE PAINTER OF SIGNS .......... 55 4.2 FREEDOM AND POWER RELATIONS IN WAITING FOR THE MAHATMA 63 4.3 SUMMARY ................................................................................................................. 70 CHAPTER 5 ................................................................................................................................ 71 5.0 INTRODUCTION ...................................................................................................... 71 5.1 EMPOWERMENT THROUGH POWER-TO ........................................................ 71 5.1.1 Women Empowerment through Power-to in The Painter of Signs .................... 71 5.1.2 Women Empowerment through Power-to in Waiting for the Mahatma ........... 77 5.2 EMPOWERMENT THROUGH POWER-OVER .................................................. 81 5.2.1 Women Empowerment through Power-over in The Painter of Signs ................ 81 5.2.2 Women Empowerment through Power-over in Waiting for the Mahatma ..... 87 5.3 SUMMARY ................................................................................................................. 93 CHAPTER 6 ................................................................................................................................ 94 6.0 INTRODUCTION ...................................................................................................... 94 6.1 RESULTS AND DISCUSSION FOR RESEARCH QUESTION ONE ................. 94 6.2 RESULTS AND DISCUSSION FOR RESEARCH QUESTION TWO ................ 97 6.3 SUMMARY ............................................................................................................... 100 REFERENCES ............................................................................................................................ 101 4
  5. 5. LIST OF FIGURES Figure 2.1 R.K. Narayan‟s Women in Power 5
  6. 6. SATU ANALISIS TAHAP MIKRO TENTANG WANITA DAN KUASA DALAM NOVEL WAITING FOR THE MAHATMA DAN THE PAINTER OF SIGNS KARYAAN R.K. NARAYAN ABSTRAK Kajian ini mendalami situasi-situasi watak-watak wanita dalam Waiting for the Mahatma (1955) dan The Painter of Signs (1977) karyaan R.K. Narayan. Wanita- wanita tersebut memprakktikan kuasa dalam hubungan kuasa pada tahap mikro dengan menggunakan Teori Kuasa Foucault (1978). Kajian ini juga menggambarkan pengertian „power-over‟ dan „power-to‟ yang mana watak-watak wanita memperoleh penguasaan pada tahap micro hubungan kuasa yang berlaku dalam kalangan masyarakat setempat mereka. Seterusnya kajian ini mendedahkan sudut produktif kuasa yang mewujudkan kemungkinan kebebasan dan perubahan sosial dalam kehidupan wanita. Teori Kuasa Foucault (1978) mendapati bahawa watak-watak wanita Narayan tidak ditindas sepenuhnya seperti yang dicadangkan oleh teori kuasa kontemporari yang disandang oleh feminis. Sebaliknya, kajian ini menbuktikan penguasaan watak-watak wanita Narayan, dimana Daisy, Laxmi, Bharathi dan nenek Sriram semuanya terlibat secara langsung dalam tahap mikro perhubungan kuasa yang mempamerkan keyakinan diri, ketelusan, ketabah, dan keterlibatan dalam perubahan diri mereka dan juga dalam lingkungan budaya mereka. Dalam keadaan ini, Teori Kuasa Foucault memberi feminis cara pemikiran yang positif tentang hubungan kuasa dengan wanita. 6
  7. 7. A MICROLEVEL ANALYSIS OF WOMEN & POWER IN R.K. NARAYAN’S WAITING FOR THE MAHATMA & THE PAINTER OF SIGNS ABSTRACT This study explores the situations in which the women characters of Narayan's Waiting for the Mahatma (1955) and The Painter of Signs (1977) exercise power in the microlevel power relations through Foucault‟s (1978) theory of power. It also illustrates the notion of 'power-over' and 'power to' through which these women characters gain empowerment in the microlevel power relations that circulate in the local level of the society they live in. This study exposes the productive dimension of power that creates possibilities for freedom and social change in women‟s lives. Foucault‟s theory of power reveals that Narayan‟s women characters are not entirely repressive as suggested by the contemporary theory of power sought by feminists. Instead, it evident women empowerment, where Narayan‟s Daisy, Laxmi, Bharathi and Sriram‟s grandmother who are directly involved in the microlevel power relations appear assertive, bold, strong and involved in bringing changes in themselves and also in the culture they live in. In this respect, Foucault‟s analysis of power provides feminists with different ways of thinking about power in relation to women. 7
  8. 8. CHAPTER 1 1.0 INTRODUCTION In a world dominated by men, women strove to attain power over their life and living. It took great effort for women to confirm their existence as more than homemakers and caregivers. In such a situation, women and power are two elements that gained association after great battles of rights. The feminist movement in the past was a social and political movement. Then, women fought for their rights to vote. Later, World War Two involved the enrolment of women into the workplace to provide labour. As they joined the workforce, they became aware of their unequal economic and social status beside men. Dissatisfaction increased and they began to demand for their rights over their personal fulfilment. Betty Friedan in her Feminine Mystique (Quindlen, 2001) discussed the issue of personal achievement as „the problem that has no name‟. She delivered her message through her writing that evokes every woman who reads the book to have the power to change her state of living as a woman. Thus, the empowerment of women started to emerge. Later in 1996, the National Organization for Woman (NOW), an official group was formed to represent women and campaign for women‟s concerns. Leaders such as Betty Friedan, Bella Abzug, Shirley Chisholm, and Gloria Steinem pressured politicians to become aware of women‟s concerns and work on legislation that would improve the quality of women‟s lives. 8
  9. 9. Since then, the women‟s movement never stopped. The emergence of women in power was obvious where they became great leaders and social workers. In a world dominated by men, women are gradually achieving their liberty. However, the emergence of the feminist movement did not stop the domination by men. Women were denied access to power and were oppressed in many circumstances. Despite many efforts made by the feminist movement, women today are still subjected to a secondary position. These states of subordination are well represented in literature too in the form of “patriarchy, sexuality as well as social class” to name a few (Thorner & Krishnaraj, 2000, p.14). Works written by famous writers especially the Indian writers of English novels as in Anita Desai‟s Fasting & Feasting (1999), portray the subordination of women in real life. Literature traps women in their contemporary position in the form of writings. Their works traverse through the times delivering the traditional positioning of women to the readers. Hence, it leaves the women characters in books trapped under the male dominated circumstances where they remained powerless. Feminism concerns the experiences of women and largely feminists study the aspects of inequality between men and women socially, politically and economically. In the area of literature, feminists criticize the subordination of women characters represented by the female and male authors, feminists point out that inequality, and biasness towards women appear to be dominant. They are against the idea that women are not equal to men. In line with this, it is important to investigate the position of women and power in literature since “power is a central concept in the study of 9
  10. 10. women subordination” (Yoder & Kahn, 1992). Therefore, this study will explore how and when Narayan‟s women characters exercise power in The Painter of Signs (1977) and Waiting for the Mahatma (1955). The aim of this study is to explore the situations in which these women characters exercise power at the microlevel power relations and to investigate the notion of 'power-over' and 'power to' through which they gain empowerment in the selected novels. Thus, the researcher will use Foucault‟s (1978) theory of power to study Narayan‟s women characters in relation to power. At the end, the researcher will conclude whether power liberates Narayan‟s women characters from contemporary male dominance. 1.1 NARAYAN: THE CREATOR OF MALGUDI Rasikpuram Krishnaswamy Iyer Narayanaswamy in short is also known as R.K.Narayan as Graham Greene, Narayan‟s discoverer and literary promoter addressed him. According to Raman (2001), Narayan was born in Chennai, formally known as Madras, South India in the year 1906 and earned his education at Maharaja‟s College in Mysore (Raman, 2001). He first started his career as a writer of short stories and essays for newspapers to eke out a living. Later, after his first novel Swami and Friends that was first published in 1935, he became a successful writer of many dazzling short stories and novels in English. Narayan gave birth to the city of Malgudi through his writings, which is known as India‟s best-loved fictional city. Malgudi, a fictitious stereotypical small town, where the standard norms of superstition and tradition apply is the interesting element in Narayan‟s writing. 10
  11. 11. Narayan, (1906-2001) lived well into his nineties, providing until the end of his life substantial oeuvres which won unprecedented recognition for Indian Writing in English. It formed a prominent segment called Commonwealth Literature from the mid-1960s onwards (Travedi, 2007). Compared with other writers of his time, namely Mulk Raj Anand (1905-2004) and Raja Rao (1908-2006), Narayan received more critical attention and enjoyed extra popularity. On the other hand, some writers who started writing in English namely Michael Madhusudan Dutt (1824-1873) and Bankimchandra Chatterjee (1838-1894) reverted to writing in their mother tongue, Bengali. Besides them, Masti Venkatesh Iyengar who initially wrote in English also returned to write in the Kannada language (Travedi, 2007). Among them, according to Travedi, Narayan continued writing in English confidently unlike Raja Rao who complained, that writing in English was difficult (Travedi, 2007). Besides that, Narayan did not use the hybridized variety of English like Mulk Raj Anand (1905-2004), in his works. However, Narayan mesmerized his readers with his fictional city of Malgudi populated by ordinary Indian men and women. In other words, he depicted the real India in his writings. The author was not a citizen likened to Malgudi by upbringing and social location (Travedi, 2007). Although he was not born or brought up in such an ordinary environment, he never failed to touch the very essence of the ordinary Indian men and women‟s daily lives in his writing. Thus, his writings are truly appreciated by his readers and are widely accepted and enjoyed. Narayan is hailed as one of the greatest Anglo-Indian writers. He died at the age of ninety-five following a cardio respiratory failure (Ram, 2001). 11
  12. 12. Narayan is an exceptionally long lasting writer. His works not only mesmerized the readers in India but readers around the world as well. His typical trademark was humour throughout his writing, which brought him prosperous success. Besides that, he is a simple writer who can write stories from the perspective of an ordinary man describing the man‟s daily life and very genuinely put it in his narration. Thus, his amusing stories of simple language make his work move smoothly from one end to another end of the world. Despite his demise in the year 2001, his writings are still on the shelves for sale. Narayan‟s novels are extensively read, especially Waiting for the Mahatma (1995) and The Painter of Signs (1977). His novels are widely researched by researchers around the world. Normally, the past researches on Narayan‟s Waiting for the Mahatma (1955) and The Painter of Signs (1977) focused on the aspects of symbolism, illusion, sex, reality, humour, religion and even on his language, specifically the sentence structures. Despite the wide range of research on his novels, the feminist perspective pertaining to power and women however, has yet to be explored. 1.2 THE STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM In most of Narayan‟s work, the women characters carry dominant and active roles. Besides that, these women do not only appear sensuous and seductive but intelligent too. Although the women characters in Narayan‟s novels are outstanding and dominant, research into his work did not address the element of women and power that appears to be another trademark of his work. Although feminists are interested in criticizing the subordination of women, many works concerning women 12
  13. 13. empowerment are also found in the canon. Thus, efforts to look at Narayan‟s works in relation to his women characters and power should also be given importance. Past research conducted on Narayan‟s novels involving his women characters included Symbolism, Sex, Illusion and Reality (Acharya, 2003), Maya and Mohini, the study of illusions and mythical symbols (Bhatnagar, 2003), and R.K. Narayan‟s „New Women‟: A Feminist Perspective (Satyasree, 2008). On the other hand, scholars studied women subordination in his novels though there are many occurrences where the writer presented his women characters as powerful. Unlike the contemporary positioning of women, Narayan‟s women characters are neither oppressed nor subordinated. Hence, to address this problem, there is a need to study Narayan‟s novels in order to learn the truth. As mentioned earlier the researcher will use Foucault‟s Theory of Power (1978), in order to explore the operation of power among Narayan‟s women characters through the microlevel power relations and the notion of „power-over‟ and „power-to‟ through which the author‟s women characters gain empowerment in Waiting for the Mahatma (1955) and The Painter of Signs (1977). Lastly, it is worth studying Narayan‟s women characters in relation to power because it will portray women in the light of power and reinforce women empowerment. Besides that, this study also acknowledges a significant shift taken by a male author who was born and bred in a country where women are considered inferior and infanticide of female babies was a common occurrence. Rather than being presented as powerless, repressed, and passive, the women in Narayan‟s Waiting for the Mahatma (1955) and The Painter of Signs (1977) are active, independent, and 13
  14. 14. liberated through power. Thus, this study makes an original contribution to turn and look at the other side of the coin into women empowerment in literature instead of studying the traditional operation of power that subordinates women. 1.3 OBJECTIVES The objectives of this study are to: 1. Explore the situations in which the women characters of Narayan's Waiting for the Mahatma (1955) and The Painter of Signs (1977) exercise power in the microlevel power relations. 2. To investigate the notion of 'power-over' and 'power to' through which Narayan's women characters gain empowerment in Waiting for the Mahatma (1955) and The Painter of Signs (1977) . 1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS 1. In what circumstances do the women characters in Narayan‟s Waiting for the Mahatma (1955) and The Painter of Signs (1977) exercise power in the microlevel power relations? 2. How do Narayan‟s women characters gain empowerment through the notion of „power-over‟ and „power-to‟ in his Waiting for the Mahatma (1955) and The Painter of Signs (1977)? 1.5 THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY 14
  15. 15. This study gives insight to the readers on how Indian women in India undergo and exercise power in the traditional social context where men dominate and women are subordinated. Besides that, this study not only enables the readers to understand the significance of power in women‟s lives in order to accomplish their needs and goals but also the role power plays to free them from the subordinated position. Furthermore, this study also concentrates on exposing the readers to the productive dimension of power in women‟s lives, which creates possibilities for freedom and social change. In other words, it explains to the readers about the workings of power in women‟s everyday lives. Lastly, this study helps readers to understand the empowerment of women and diffuses the idea that women are powerless. 1.6 LIMITATIONS OF THE STUDY The researcher‟s research is limited to two selected novels written by Narayan namely Waiting for the Mahatma (1955) and The Painter of Signs (1977) although he has produced a wide range of literary works. In order for the research to be productive, is it essential for the researcher to choose a manageable number of novels. Therefore, considering the time factor, the researcher finds it practical to research only two novels of the author. Since, this research intends to look at the element of women and power, the researcher ensured that there are sufficient women characters in the chosen novels in order to meet the purpose of the study. This is because, not all of the author‟s work involves women characters. Some of his stories and novels do not include women characters at all. Moreover, Narayan normally constructs his novels with a limited 15
  16. 16. number of characters, thus the researcher ensured that the chosen novels included women characters. It is also crucial to understand that this study concentrates specifically on Indian women characters of Narayan‟s chosen novels. Besides that, it is very important to remember that this study focuses on the microlevel power relations that exist in the local level of the society. Microlevel means the focus is on the “relatively small member of social agents who are directly involved in the power relations and not in the set of background relation that form the context for that power relation”, in other words, not the macrolevel (Allen, 1996, p.267). Thus, the microlevel relations of power are the smaller scope of power relations between two individuals or between small groups of individuals. Hence, this research studies the microlevel power relations and women in the chosen novels written by Narayan. Lastly, it is important to understand that, the notion of women and the element of power in other works of this author may differ. The range and type of power bestowed upon the women characters in Narayan‟s other novels and short stories may not assert the same idea of liberation as in Waiting for the Mahatma (1955) and The Painter of Signs (1977). 1.7 DEFINITION OF TERMS 1.7.1 POWER According to Foucault (1983), power is a network where individuals circulate on. His understanding of power includes the element of freedom. He 16
  17. 17. defines power as sets of relations that exist between individuals, or that are strategically developed by groups of individuals. To Foucault (1978), power is everywhere and it is generated rather than possessed. “if we speak of structures or the mechanisms of power, it is not only insofar as we suppose that certain persons exercise power over others.” (Foucault, 1978, p.92) He says that power is a relation between two persons, and that it is not only about a person influencing the other. Foucault defines power as the “multiplicity of relations immanent in the sphere in which they operate and which constitute their own organisation” (Foucault, 1978). On the other hand, Lukes (1974 & 2005) and Connoly (1983) define power as “something that is often regarded as an essentially contested concept”, while Pitkin (1972) says, “power is related etymologically to the French word pouvoir and the Latin potere, both of which mean „to be able‟.” According to Pitkin “power is capacity, potential, ability, or wherewithal.” Meanwhile, Page and Czuba (1999) define power as “something that is often related to our ability to make others do what we want, regardless of their own wishes or interests.” In short, it can be said that power refers to those aspects of relating that translate influence, that make a difference, and that have an effect. Besides that, the actions of one affects the thoughts or actions of another. 1.7.2 POWER RELATIONS 17
  18. 18. Foucault (1988a) says, power relation is multiple, they have different forms, they can be in play in family relations, or within an institution, or an administration or between a dominating and a dominated class. He went further to explain that the characteristic of power relations is that, “as agents in the structure, some men can more or less determine other men‟s conduct, but never exhaustively.” As defined by Foucault, the “poles of power relation could be characterised by descriptions such as dominant-submissive, controlling- rebellious, have-want, strong-weak and other phrases.” So according to him, within the field of power relations, what one person does affects a second, which affects the third, and so on. Thus, “power relations are the dynamics of mutual influence.” (Foucault, 1978, p.93). 1.7.3 POWER-TO Weber (1978), defines power-to as “personal empowerment.” According to Weber, it is a control one feels over “one‟s own thoughts, feelings, and behaviour.” It is further explained as the probability that one actor within a social relationship will be in a position to carry out his “own will despite resistance” (Foucault, 1978). Meanwhile, Arendt (1970) defines power- to as the human ability not just to act but also to act in concert.” 1.7.4 POWER-OVER 18
  19. 19. Power-over according to Goodrich (1991), is the “domination and control of one person or group over another.” Dahl (1957), gave the same definition of power-over. He defines it as „intuitive idea of power according to which A has power over B to the extent that he can get B to do something that B would not otherwise do”, while Foucault (1988b), defines power-over as a state where, one can act upon others and the other is acted upon or allows himself to be acted upon. 1.7.5 EMPOWERMENT According to Page and Czuba (1999), empowerment is a “multi- dimensional social process” that helps people gain control over their own lives. In other words, a process that fosters power or the capacity to implement power in people, for the use in their own lives, their communities, and their society, by acting on issues that they define as important. Similarly, Bush & Folger (1994) define empowerment as the “restoration to individuals of a sense of their own value and strength and their own capacity to handle life‟s problems.” Meanwhile, Thomas & Velthouse (1990) define empowerment as including self-efficacy or competence, self- determination, and impact on one‟s action. 1.8 SUMMARY In short, this research will analyse Narayan‟s The Painter of Signs (1977) and Waiting for Mahatma (1955) using Foucault‟s Theory of Power (1978), to study the 19
  20. 20. relation between the author‟s women characters and power. This research intends to analyse when and how Narayan‟s women characters exercise power in the microlevel power relations. Furthermore, the researcher gives attention to Narayan‟s women characters because they grow stronger (Satyasree, 2008) starting from The Dark Room (1938) to Grandmother‟s Tale (1992) and thus, present that women empowerment is not a myth as claimed by the traditional model of power. Since Narayan is a writer who writes about people‟s life describing daily happenings and brings out many simple issues of everyday life, the researcher finds that Foucault‟s (1978) analysis of power matches most for this study because Foucault‟s (1978) microlevel power relations as well emphasizes on people‟s daily life. Thus, this study intends to explore the situations in which Narayan‟s women characters exercise power in the microlevel power relations and investigate the notion of 'power-over' and 'power to' through which they gain empowerment and live life the way they intend to in the author‟s selected novels. 20
  21. 21. CHAPTER 2 2.0 INTRODUCTION Power is not an institution, and not a structure; neither is it a certain strength we are endowed with; it is the name that one attributes to a complex strategical situation in a particular society. (Foucault, 1978, p.92-93) Michel Foucault was a well-known French philosopher, historian, and social critic figure who influenced a wide range of disciplines including medicine, literature, and literary theory. According to Kritzman, Foucault provided a new way to analuse power politically, socially and economically through what he called power relations (Kritzman, 1988). In the process, he had engaged in a series of provocative dialogues with his theoretical ancestors such as Marx, Nietzsche, Freud, and Sartre to name a few due to the differences in the way they analyse power (Kritzman, 1988). Foucault (1978), gives a very different definition of power. He does not perceive power as a subject possessed by an individual; instead, he sees power as a network of relations and further claims that individuals circulate along this network. Besides that, he claims that everyone exercises power because power is everywhere. Ultimately, he rejects the “traditional revolutionary theory of power that supports both liberal theories of sovereignty and Marxist theories that locate power in the economy and the state as an arm of the bourgeoisie” (Sawicki, 1991, p.20). Foucault says that when he thinks of power he “thinks not only of its existing structure of pathways but also of the extent to which power absorbs into the very grain of individuals, reaches right into their bodies, permeates their gestures, what they say, how they learn to live 21
  22. 22. and work with people” (Munro, 2003, p.82). Unlike the traditional juridico-discursive model, Foucault does not “restrict his model of power to the assumption that individuals in the state of nature primarily possess power by class, neither does that power flow from a centralized source from top to bottom nor is it repressive in its exercise” (Sawicki, 1991, p.20). To him, every power relations energetic, where people involved in the power relations are both in position to act and react (Sawicki, 1991). Athough it seems difficult to understand Foucault‟s explanation of power, it is relationally easy. Firstly, we must understand that he draws attention to “a network of complex and interconnected „disciplinary techniques‟ through which power primarily operates in modern society”. Secondly, we need to understand that “power is everywhere not because it embraces everything, but because it comes from everywhere”. Lastly, “power is not an institution, a structure or a certain type of strength one is endowed with” (Foucault, 1978, p.93). Indeed, Foucault‟s theory of power is a direct opposite from the traditional models of power because he frees power by saying it is merely a network of relations rather than a subject clutched by anyone or anything. Additionally, Foucault says that power must be analysed as something that “circulates and not as a commodity or a piece of wealth” (Foucault, 1980, p.98). He distinguishes his idea on power by criticising models that see power as being purely located in the State or the administrative and executive bodies that govern the nation State. He further says that the wide and complex micro levels of power in the social body creates state. According to Foucault, if there are no micro power relations than there will not be any existence of the state (O‟Farrell, 2005). Foucault emphasizes 22
  23. 23. “microlevel power relations rather than engaging his analysis of power on a discussion of legitimate and illegitimate uses of power by the state” (Foucault, 1979, p.26). He suggests „micro-physics‟ of power, which he defines as “an examination of specific power relations at every day level” (Hekman, 1996, p.271). In other words, in Foucault‟s view, power operates locally, circulates in the capillaries of the social body, and emanates from the very point in the social field. His analysis of power is extremely concerned with the microlevel of analysis, that is the circulation of power among people of very local levels of the society. Similarly, Munro also claims that Foucault‟s analysis of power emphasizes microlevel relations (Munro, 2003) and that power is a positive social presence that operates in all aspects of life and exerts itself in all directions, creating a variety of different relationships other than those within the domination-subordination dynamic of traditional conceptions. This is the very essence of Foucault‟s theory of power and the reason for the widespread use of his idea in many other fields including feminism. He provides a new dimension from where power could be analysed as a more gentle and general source accessible to everyone, everywhere, at anytime. Adding to this, Foucault argues that, “since modern power operates in a capillary fashion through the social body, it is best grasped in its concrete and local effect and in everyday practices that sustain and reproduce power relations” (Sawicki, 1988, p.88). In short, Foucault “frees power from the domain of political theory and proposes that we think of power outside the confines of state, law, or class” (Sawicki, 1988, p.164) in order to locate forms of power that are obscured in traditional theories. 23
  24. 24. His notion of power challenges the commonly held assumption that power is essentially a negative, repressive force that operates “purely through the mechanisms of law, taboo, and censorship” (Foucault, 1978, p.82). However, he does not deny that the juridico-discursive model of power describes one form of power. According to Sawicki Foucault simply thinks that it cannot make “power become centralized and repressive” especially at the microlevel of society where countless power relations exist (Sawicki, 1991, p.20). 2.1 FOUCAULT AND POWER 2.1.1 The Dynamic Mode Foucault criticizes previous traditional models of power for assuming that power is fundamentally repressive. According to O‟Farrell (2005), to Foucault power is not about simply saying no and oppressing individuals, social classes or natural instincts. Instead, he argues that “power is productive” (O‟Farrell, 2005, p.100). This means that power generates particular types of knowledge and cultural order. Foucault rejects the repressive model of power because he does not see the “rationale of the strong approval of power in our daily lives if it appears primarily repressive” (Sawicki, 1991, p.21). He says that Marxist associates power with domination for a fairly long time, that the positive possibilities of the liberation through power went merely invisible. Thus, he claims that power and oppression are not identical and it is not wise to associate them upon broad reasoning. Foucault further elaborates that the repressive power represents power in its most frustrated and extreme situation where the exercise of force is more often an evidence of a lack of power. Furthermore, there are many 24
  25. 25. relations of power extending throughout the entire social body and to “identify power with oppression is to assume that power is exercised from one source and that it is one thing” (O‟Farrell, 2005, p.101). This assumption to Foucault is wrong, for he claims that in a broader view, power is seen as productive only at the macrolevel, and thus its productive circulation at the microlevel becomes redundant. Therefore, power is assumed to be repressive. In addition, he also give accounts of how certain institutional and cultural practices produce individuals, which further strengthens his claim on “the productive nature of power” (Sawicki, 1991, p.22). Foucault with his refined notion of power analysis analyses power from a new angle. However, he does not deny the phenomenon of state but he claims that it is important to understand the possibilities of resistance when every power relation takes place and such resistance brings liberation into the process. Thus he suggests a different route in order to analyse power and tries to prove that such relations of power at microlevels extend influence to the macrolevel society. Apart from that, Foucault also says that power produces particular types of behaviour, by regulating people‟s everyday activities which he describes as the „microphysics of power‟ and „capillary power‟. In his own words, he claims that “power reaches into the very grain of individuals, touches their bodies and inserts itself into their actions and attitudes, their discourses, learning processes and everyday lives” (Foucault, 1980, p.39). Foucault‟s view of power is productive rather than repressive and it is well developed in his Volume 1 of The History of Sexuality (1978). 2.1.2 Implementing Power 25
  26. 26. Foucault, in his History of Sexuality (1988a, p.45) says “some people exercise power and find pleasure in doing so while others find pleasure in resisting power.” He explains that power is not a property owned by one, rather one chooses to either exercise or resist it. Foucault claims that thinking of power as a possession is wrong, according to him “power is not a „thing‟ or a „capacity‟ which can be owned either by state class or particular individuals” (O‟Farrell, 2005, p.99). Conversely, he explains that power is a relation between different individuals and groups and only exists when it is being exercised. As he says, a king is only a king if he has subjects otherwise, he is just an ordinary man. Thus, being a king does not bring nor give him power but having the subjects gives him the link to exercise power. Hence, power is not a blessing rather sets of relations through which power takes effect. Besides the king- subject relation, among other forms of relations are teacher-student, doctor-patient, husband-wife, mother-son, daughter-father to name a few. Further to this, Foucault claims that power pervades the social body at all levels. However, he adds that it does not cover every “social relation and it is limited when extensively exercised” (O‟Farrell, 2005, p.99). He says that power is everywhere in the society and people move around this systematic network under the constraint of the macrolevel. However, it neither limits nor stops the circulation of power relations in the microlevel society. However, later he claims that power becomes a way of changing people‟s conduct that he defines as “mode of action upon the actions of others” (Faubion & Hurley, 2000, p.341). In addition to this, he also argues that power can only be 26
  27. 27. exercised over free subjects (O‟Farrell, 2005). He claims that there should be possibilities for the subjects to react and behave in a different way. In other words, individuals and people in groups must constantly be in the mode to act and react because when these possibilities are blocked, the space to exercise power are as well blocked as well, hence, power relation will not take place. Through his theory of power, he stresses that we are never “trapped by power because there are always possibilities to modify its hold” (Sawicki, 1991, p.25). Thus, he is suggesting that power is accessible to everyone, to pick it up or drop it is the choice to be made by an individual and if it is picked up, then there are possibilities of changes. 2.1.3 Power Throughout the Social Body Foucault criticizes traditional models of power which are solely centralized in the state level. To him, as said earlier, the very “existence of the state depends on the operation of thousands of complex micro-relations of power at every level of the social body” (O‟Farrell, 2005, p.100). He sees power as a positive social presence that operates in all aspects of life and exerts itself in all directions, creating a variety of different relationships (Munro, 2003). Thus, he says that, power circulates even among two individuals or groups of individuals in the society from fathers in relation to their children, men in relation to women, children in relation to parents, and women in relation to men to name a few. Therefore, Foucault (1978) argues that all these “relations of power at different levels work together and against each other in constantly shifting combinations” (O‟ Farrell, 2005, p.101) and so, it is wrong to analyse power as coming from top down. He says it is not possible to understand 27
  28. 28. power relations if the analysis starts from the macrolevel. Thus, to understand the analysis, one should begin at the local level and from there see the patterns of practices and discourses and their interrelations and how they have become inert and seemingly fixed at the macrolevel. Only then, can the relations of power be understood. Therefore, as a compliment, Foucault‟s (1978), analysis of the microlevel power relations presents considerable improvement to contemporary feminists by encouraging space for a pluralist understanding of womanhood that redresses the traditional concepts which deny women power, to women empowerment. McLaren (2002), says that Foucault‟s theory of power “lack a normative framework” (McLaren, 2002, p.19). However, McLaren argues that Foucault‟s work provides significant “theoretical resources for feminism” (McLaren, 2002, p.17). Hence, Foucault‟s (1978), notion of power relations at the microlevel permits a different approach of how power operates in the world in a new way that contradicts the contemporary system which feminists normally adopt to prove the subordination of women in the world dominated by men. Furthermore, Foucault‟s (1978) theory of power opens room for feminists to study the relationship between women and power in an opposite way from that of contemporary revolutionary theory in an attempt to study women‟s subordination. 2.2 FOUCAULT AND FEMINISM Foucault‟s (1978) theory of power poses a challenge to the traditional way of thinking about power. This challenge makes Foucault‟s work both a significant resource for feminist theory and generates heated debate among feminist social and political theorists. Therefore, Foucault has considerable influence towards the study of 28
  29. 29. women subordination. The string that brings Foucault‟s entanglement with feminism is ultimately the concept of power being the central focus of the women‟s movement. Foucault‟s notion of power restructures the way feminists analyse power from that of the contemporary revolutionary theory namely Marxist and liberal theories. Although Foucault‟s large contribution deals with power relations analysis in the political, economical, and social settings, his work also provides a new dimension for feminists to analyse power relations in feminists‟ study of difference. Feminism, on the other hand is women‟s movement that fights for equal rights and lawful protection for women. Largely the concept of power is fundamental to the theoretical task of women subordination as in the subject of racism, heterosexism and class oppression. Furthermore, an analysis of power is fundamental to the feminist mission (Yoder & Kahn, 1992) of understanding the nature and cause of women‟s subordination. Therefore, the question of difference is always at the forefront of discussion among feminists. Foucault‟s notion of power has considerable influence on the analysis of power relations in women‟s study. However, Foucault makes regular “reference to resistance as both directive and target power, but he does not lead us to what resistance looks like from the inside out” (Radtke & Stam, 1994, p.61). Due to this, Foucault‟s nation of power is regularly questionable. He merely describes his ideas of power and gives wide range of examples to it, but he did not provide proper evidence. Probably this is the reason for why Foucault‟s notion of power frequently leads to misunderstandings. Nevertheless, his theory definitely provides a new scale to analyse power especially for feminists. 29
  30. 30. On the other hand, feminists conceptualize power in three ways. Firstly, both individually and collectively they regard power as a resource to be distributed and redistributed. Secondly, they regard power as a dominant element and thirdly, power as a form of empowerment. Additionally, feminist scholars, Goodrich (1991), suggest that power can be conceptualized in two ways, that is power-to (personal empowerment) and power-over that is regarded as domination (Yoder & Kahn, 1992). Since power is a central concept in the study of women‟s movement, it adopted the traditional revolutionary theory of power in order to criticize women‟s subordination. Thus, oppression of women was explained by patriarchal social structures that secure the power of men over women. In doing so, feminists opted to use the traditional revolutionary theory of power for their research and study. The traditional model of power underlies an opposite notion from that of Foucault‟s. The traditional model of power says that power is possessed, for instance, by the individuals in the state of nature, a class, or the people. Secondly, it claims that power flows from a centralized source from top to bottom as in the law, economy and the state. Lastly, it also claims that power is primarily repressive in its exercise (Sawicki, 1991) thus it is a prohibition backed by sanction. For decades, under this traditional theory of power, feminists worked to reveal the subordination of women and struggle to highlight the dividing factor experienced in the society through which they fought for equal rights. However, feminists who are concerned to encounter what they regard as the oversimplified conception of power relations question the problematic implication that women are simply passive, powerless victims of male power under the traditional revolutionary theory. Thus, some feminists turn to Foucault‟s theory of power because 30
  31. 31. it offers a slightly more optimistic view of the relationship between power and women. Foucault offers a possible shift in understanding power relations. For instance, when women exercise power in many ways to create overt or subversive strategies, than in Foucault‟s interpretation, women are able to rebel and exercise power because “freedom is everywhere for them to exercise power” (Foucault, 1988a, p.12). Thus, Foucault gives a new dimension to study women‟s position in society. However, largely Foucault‟s analysis of power relations focuses on the microlevel society where he shows how mechanisms of power at this level become part of dominant networks of power relations. According to him, power never traps anyone, thus it is always possible to modify its hold in every condition (Sawicki, 1991). Hence, from his account, women can adapt and adopt power for their own ends. Foucault in his effort to provide a different angle from where power should or could be analysed has eventually opened up a different route for feminists to explore their effort towards women‟s equal rights. Feminists, all the way throughout their studies highlighted the subordination of women socially, politically and economically. In order to fight against the double standards women lived in for decades, feminists have outrageously pointed out the angles where women subordination was dominant and as a reward for their effort, many things have changed in the world today with regard to women‟s positions. Thus, turning to Foucault‟s notion of power will further enhance the women‟s position in the society as Martin (1988) says, “the unity of women in tension with the global effect of patriarchal relations has created a space for us from which to interpret as well to speak” (Martin, 1988, p.16). Therefore, adopting 31
  32. 32. Foucault‟s notion of power in feminists‟ studies will change the idea that women are entirely powerless to a considerable extent. However, the traditional belief towards the state of women being subordinated has not changed, nor did feminists alter the state of the claim (Uchem, 2001). Feminists by large still hold to the “contemporary patriarchal theory” in fighting against women subordination (Jackson, 1998, p.13) although the idea of women empowerment has been “central to the evolution of women‟s movement since the late 1960‟s as pioneered by Paolo Freire” (Kramarae, 2000, p.554). The state of subordination could have been the foundation ground from where women‟s movement eventually started. As it has uprooted and resulted in many optimistic changes to women‟s state of living, it is high time women‟s movement stop grudging about being powerless and subordinated. Instead, feminists should turn their attention to the empowerment of women and modify the position women share in present days politically, socially and economically. Thus, taking up Foucault‟s theory of power (1978) to study women empowerment instead of women subordination will to a considerable extent if not entirely rework the secondary position women used to live in for decades in the past because “empowerment is a process that aims at creating the conditions for the self-determination of a particular group” (Kramarae, 2000, p.554). Furthermore, it is invoked to signify the “potential for change and has been used successfully as a means to mobilize people to action” (Kramarae, 2000, p.554). Hence, shifting from the old way of pointing out women‟s oppression and state of subordination in order to gain recognition of their empowerment will assert some sense of authority for women in present days. 32
  33. 33. In the past, women obtained power by fighting against their subordination, they can successfully improve their position politically, economically and politically. Today, through the changes they have achieved, they continue their movement through empowerment. Foucault‟s work definitely deserves a compliment to feminism for providing a new room where women can prove the significance of their existence in a society. Thus, men do not anymore control women; rather they exercise power over women. This does not mean that women are powerless but they simply choose not to exercise power. It simply means, both women and men have the freedom to choose whether to exercise power and neither has more than the other does. However, Foucault was not optimistic, yet he affirmed political struggle and expected his work to lead his readers to “pessimistic activism” (Poster, 1989, p.114). This is because he does not accept totalizing theories or strategies; he, according to Radtke & Stam (1994) does not foresee a glorious freedom day but rather continuing, shifting struggles. Nevertheless, Foucault and feminism complement each other. As for feminism, it offers a great deal of revolution to think of and analyse power from a different angle and as for Foucault, to prove the circulation of power at the microlevels of society is significant and it has considerable effect on the macrolevels. Thus, it is wise to think of feminism through Foucault and where necessary beyond him because his methods of undertaking power relations complement feminist analyses where he “illuminates ways by which dominant discourses produce power imbalances and he starts from the point of difference” (Radtke & Stam, 1994, p.61). 33
  34. 34. 2.3 POWER AND INDIAN WOMEN Power and women share strong association in Indian culture. Reflecting on Vedas, the sacred texts of Hinduism, God is worshipped in the female form such as the goddess Lakshmi for wealth, the goddess Saraswathi for wisdom and the goddess Dhurga for power (Radhakrishnan, 1957). Nevertheless, the status of women in India by reality does not resemble the equivalent honour. In the past, the inheritance of the Indian women is dependent on the religion, region, caste, and class in which they are born. However, in present days, the conditions have not changed much. Indian women being the majority population of India still cry for single justice under the prevailing patriarchal traditions. Women in India live entirely a different world historically, socially, economically and politically. However, the state they share in as Indian women was and is rather pathetic. According to Mageli (1997), women in India have benefitted little from the development process since independence. Primarily, the birth of a baby girl into a family is considered unlucky. The infant is deemed as a burden and disgrace to the family, at such the beliefs lead to infanticide (Mageli, 1997). Female discrimination and subordination are well known among Indians, according to Poitevin and Raikar (1985), Indian women suffer from the lack of social identity. Marriage for instance appears as a depressing experience from which the newlywed bride understands that she is “handed over for a sum of money or dowry without being given the slightest consideration” (Poitevin & Raikar 1985, p.77). More often than not, they feel they have been sold. 34
  35. 35. The practice of dowry is linked to “caste status where among higher castes a dowry is expected from the bride‟s family and among lower castes the dowry is paid to the bride‟s family” (Fowler, 1997, p.54). Gradually, the prevalence of dowry increased, people started to abuse the practice (Miller, 1993) in their greed for money and as a result, women become the victims in silence. Although there is no proof when the practice of dowry first started, the ultimate existence of Indian women‟s powerlessness is notable everywhere in India. On the other hand, the women in India are also powerless due to the practice of sati or widow burning. In other words, it is “an act of immolation of a wife on the funeral pyre of her husband” (Hawley, 1994, p.3). Although sati in present days is banned, the rare occurrence is devastating. According to Oldenburg (Hawley, 1994), an 18 year old newly married woman has suddenly been widowed and then cremated along with the corpse of her husband in the manner of sati in 1987. The parents of the woman, Bal Singh Rathore and Sneh Kanwar were neither informed of their son in law‟s death nor of their daughter‟s wish to die as sati on her husband‟s funeral pyre. This is an extreme state of powerlessness Indian women suffered in the recent past. However, the occurrence in the present is claimed to be a myth. Nevertheless, women in India are among those who lived such a dreadful life once. Besides that, the Indian women are subordinates in most marriages. Marriage is another relationship which denies Indian women power. The position of women in India is notably poor. After marriage, her in-laws takes authority of her and her behaviour reflects the honour of her husband. The primary duty of a newly married 35
  36. 36. young woman, and virtually her only means of improving her position in the hierarchy of her husband‟s household, is to bear sons. According to Hedge (Radha & Hedge, 1999) the “perfect mother is one who can bear sons,” otherwise she is worth nothing. Thus, the preference for sons in India increases female infanticides. Therefore, the state of being powerless for Indian women starts from their birth. However, the present state of women in India is deemed better where female infanticide is also banned but the preference for sons remains crystal clear (Radha & Hedge, 1999). Consequently, the yearning for baby boys among the Indian community puts women not only in the secondary position but also in a powerless state. Apart from this, there are endless lists of women subordination that denies them power likened to child marriages that keep women subjugated and divorce on the other hand is not a possible option for women. Besides that, women‟s rights to inheritance are limited and frequently violated. All in all these prescriptions limit the access of power to women, thus, leaves them powerless. Far beyond all, Jawaharlal Nehru (1889-1964), the first prime minister of India claims that “the condition of a nation can be determined from the status of its women” (Srimati, 1999, p.3). His opinion is one of the revolutionary views that assert women to move forward because he believes when women move forward, the family moves, the village moves, and thus the nation moves. Despite the dark ages Indian women lived in the past, the contact of Indian culture with that of the British brought improvement in the status of women. On the other hand, Mahatma Gandhi as well indulged women to participate in the freedom 36
  37. 37. movement. Since then, education was also provided for women and as a result, women in India have distinguished themselves as teachers, nurses, clerks, receptionists, and doctors to name a few. Moreover, their existence is visible in the political and administration areas too. Thus, Indian women have truly improved from the deep slumber of century old oppression. However, illiteracy, dowry and slavery have to end to a large extent if not entirely in order for women to have their rightful place in the Indian society. 37
  38. 38. 2.4 NARAYAN: A CRITICAL RESPONSE Narayan‟s writing, despite his popularity evokes many students and researchers to study his work critically. By large, studies on Narayan are related to humour, irony, religion, and family relationship. These are the essential trade of his writings, imbuing them with the elusive blend of comparability and wisdom. Bhatnagar (2008), claims that Narayan is a writer who equally balances his writing based “on the original Indian‟s daily life without detaching it from its universality” (Bhatnagar, 2008, p.2). Mathur, (2001), researched on the evolution of self in Narayan‟s major women characters from three different novels namely The Dark Room (1982), The Guide (1978) and The Painter of Signs (1977). Mathur‟s (2001), selection of the novels respectively belongs to Narayan‟s early, middle and later periods. The study concentrated on three major women characters of the novels namely, Savitri from The Dark Room (1982), Rosie from The Guide (1978) and Daisy from The Painter of Signs (1977). Mathur (2001), presents the formation of these three different types of female characters and provides a continuing discourse on their growing realization of strength of self with the advancement of the century. As regard to the women characters, it is typical for Narayan to present them differently facing equally different dilemmas and arriving at different solutions. Mathur‟s (2001), study discovers that in The Dark Room (1982), Savitri is a woman of strong and deep character helpless and suffering although she lives in a comfortable house with her children. As a homemaker, she hardly feels freedom, thus 38
  39. 39. her desires and potentials remain unexpressed. Meanwhile, Rosie of The Guide (1978), is the daughter of a temple dancer. She lives liberatedly during her early years having great passion for dancing. She is married to „Marco‟ a rich man who does not respond to her requirements. Unable to suppress her multiple instincts, she starts to lead her own life seeing her favourite cobra dance and gradually falls in love with her only companion Raju, the guide. On the other hand, Daisy in The Painter of Signs (1977) is peculiarly modern for whom the cult of independent individuality is the supreme value in life. Thus, Mathur (2001), discovers that in the novels of Narayan, the awareness of self in the grumbling but helpless femininity of Savitri evolves into Rosie‟s realization of her potentiality of independent life and ultimately into Daisy‟s self of a missionary zealot. Mathur‟s study however, did not address the power relationship evolving along with the construction of self, which is rather obvious in the process of self development among the characters. The awareness of self in Narayan‟s novel by Mathur (2001), depicted that the women characters have evolved through the century. Thus, Mathur‟s (2001), study is a proof that Narayan‟s women characters practice power to a considerable extent. They are not helpless or oppressed in the novels. However, Marthur (2001) did not mention anything about these women exercising power in any way. Nevertheless, the presence of power practice is obvious in Narayan‟s The Guide (1978) and The Painter of Signs (1977). Living it unexamined will be a waste. What is the purpose of merely proving the construction of self among Narayan‟s women characters? How would one arrive at the notion that the women characters have evolved through the time? The question of how it did happen will remain a mystery. Therefore, there are adequate benefits in 39
  40. 40. examining the role of power in the construction of self of Mathur‟s (2001), study. Furthermore, this study will be a complement for Mathur‟s (2001) study because it will help to explain how the three women characters evolved through the century. Consequently, there will be influencing factors along the process. Thus, studying women and power of Narayan‟s will be an advancement to investigate the role of power in relation to women‟s lives. On the other hand, Sen‟s (2004), critical essay on Narayan‟s The Guide (1978), concentrated on the author‟s yet another essential trademark; humour and irony. Sen‟s study on Narayan‟s sense of humour and the way he ideally illustrates the absurdities and contradiction of Indian people‟s daily lives. Sen specifically refers to the character of Raju in The Guide (1978), who appears to be the reluctant guru. He identified Narayan as a supreme ironist who with his gentle humour exposes the absurdities of Indian cultural practices in India. In his study, Sen (2004), presents how Narayan develops a sympathetic character out of his rogue of a hero demonstrating comically, how Raju attempts to make the best out of a bad business. Sen‟s (2004), study is an interesting one, however it is not anywhere near the theme of power and women. Ironically, The Guide (1978), of Narayan is filled with these elements, where Rosie a women with passion for dancing leads her own life. There are many elements of power embedded in the novel related to women in The Guide (1978). However, this theme is again left unearthed. There are many other works of Narayan folding numerous interesting issues pertaining to women and power. However, largely themes like humour, symbolism, myth, to mention a few occurring in Narayan‟s work overshadow this very important theme regarding women and power. 40
  41. 41. Many other past research on Narayan‟s work are based on other aspects namely, Sex, Symbolism, Illusion, and Reality by Acharya (2003). On the other hand, Sen (2004) contributed a study on Social Reality and Myth of Narayan‟s work. Adding to this according to Bhatnagar (2008, p.5), “Rama Kundu performs a complementary exercise highlighting the element of rituals and folklore in Narayan‟s fictional universe.” Meanwhile S. Girija in Bhatnagar (2008) brings the element of customs and conventions as a part of Narayan‟s endeavour to capture Indian ambience. Among others are of the Gandhian phenomenon researched by Aikant (2007) based on the novel Waiting for the Mahatma (Bhatnagar, 2008). Certainly, there are sufficient numbers of research conducted on Narayan‟s writings. However, feminism is obviously a theme that is left without much exploration. Narayan‟s character presentation is an interesting area of study for it brings to bear the same complexity with which he had dealt with other related issues namely, humour, irony, religion, myth, and family relationships to mention a few. Among scholars who attempted to explore this theme are Bai (1996), in Women‟s Voice, who uncovered the treatment of female characters in The Dark Room (1982), Singh (1997), scrutinises The Guide (1978), on oppression towards the female characters in the novel. However, the amount of studies done pertaining to feminism is fairly less. Thus, there is adequate significance to carry out more research of this theme. Therefore, it brings about the need to study the role of power in relation to women in Narayan‟s The Waiting for the Mahatma (1955) and The Painter of Signs (1977). It not only adds to the number of studies in this area but, discovers another subject matter left untouched. 41
  42. 42. Narayan‟s according to Naik (2001), is a major contributor to the Indian English fiction. Firstly, Naik (2001), claims that Narayan has created a tiny but perfectly credible universe in Malgudi, which is in the same class as Hardy‟s Wessex and Faulkner‟s Yoknapatawpha, he has filled it with men, and women who are as real to us as the people actually around us are. Secondly, he is an “eagle-eyed observer of life and human nature; who has illuminated the basic ironies, deep-seated ambiguities, and existential dilemmas of human condition” (Naik, 2001, p.22). Likewise, Bhatnagar (2008) also claims that Narayan is a writer who picks the ordinary matters of everyday life and depicts them in stories and novels. Thus, they please everyone who reads his writings. Similar to any other great writers, Narayan‟s works are no exception to critics. Contradicting to Naik (2001) and Bhatnagar (2008), Philips (1986), says that Narayan‟s work is different from Naipaul and Chaudury because, Narayan‟s work does not share the same theme with them. Furthermore, Narayan‟s writing commonly depicts Indian reality in its simplicity. He merely focuses on a simple man‟s and woman‟s daily life that everyone is aware of. Thus, Philips (1986) argues that, Narayan‟s extreme simplicity and artless use with which he has portrayed the Indian scene restricts the appeal of his novels due to his writing that operates deep within his society. Philips (1986) claims that India of Narayan‟s novels is not the real India. In other words, he says complex metaphoric lines do not accompany Narayan‟s work as Naipaul‟s and Chaudhury‟s, rather, it is too “simple despite the real complicated community occurring in the nation” (Philips, 1986, p.97). Philips (1986), questions the very authentic property belonging to Narayan‟s work and defines it as his weak area which makes his work not appealing. Although Philips (1986) is right 42
  43. 43. about the simplicity in the work of Narayan but his comment that says Narayan‟s works appear less appealing is rather questionable. Narayan‟s work is widespread and his work is read all around the world because of the simplicity that he uses. Should he use the same complex genre as Raja Rao and Naipaul, then he would just make an addition to an existing list of commonly spotted complicated metaphoric work of any other literature figure. His works are outstanding because he takes effort to look into the very important essence of an ordinary human being. More than often, he unveils the ordinary voices of India who remain hidden in the country not only the common difficulties they go through but also the other end where they too enjoy life. Thus, Narayan is not a revolutionary riot who calls for a change in his works. Instead, he is a writer who “penetrates the core of the Indian mind and reveals it with all its bewildering contradictions, superstitions, and traditions” (Khatri, 2006, p.141), with his ultimate simplicity. Indeed, he is not firm in calling for a change, but if he is, then the chronology of his novels and stories speak on behalf of him. For instance, reading his novels and stories by itself will give a different experience, but reading them in an organised chronology will magnify the change that he adapts as he writes along his years. An outstanding example would be the women characters that grow stronger from his earlier novels as compared to his recent. Rather than focusing on the bigger picture of a country‟s complex culture and staying ignorant of the simple social environment that influences the bigger surface, Narayan takes just a little more concern and has done it well and wisely through his writings. 43
  44. 44. Nevertheless, Bhatnagar (2008), argues that Narayan fails to portray the simmering discontent, squalor and poverty of the Indians as does Mulk Anand Raj. He further claims that Narayan leaves “the socio-politic and socio-psychic aspects of Indian reality untouched” hence he fails to picture the real Indian reality (Bhatnagar, 2008, p.17). Bhatnagar‟s (2008), is a very vague claim. Narayan in his novel The English Teacher (1989), brings in the poor character of Krishnan who suffers years of bad experience undertaking an emotional, intellectual, and spiritual journey of Indian culture after his wife‟s death. Through the character of Krishna in The English Teacher (1989), Narayan touches the socio-physical aspect. The only difference is he dives into one character and writes the story from the person‟s point of view, thus, seemingly, his works lacks these properties but they are there, all he does is concentrate and narrow it to one individual‟s life and thus it is not obvious. Furthermore, Narayan brings out the real Indian reality by going into a person‟s personal life and starts to write from there, where a real Indian leads his or her daily life without leaving out the socio-comic aspect of the society. As Khatri (2006) says, it is true that Narayan‟s narrative is essentially naturalistic. Perhaps a little tedious scrutiny will disperse Bhatnagar‟s (2008), false claims on Narayan‟s works. Normally, the depiction of the outer sphere is easy, the challenge is to dwell inside in order to unearth the truth beneath. Narayan writes about the life he does not live. He is a creative man who can walk through any character‟s life easily despite the fact that he does not share the same social environment presented in his works (Trivedi, 2007). 44
  45. 45. Thwaite (1976), brings up another observation on the issue of simplicity of Narayan. He argues that Narayan‟s use of English as a medium of expression to delineate the social reality appears dim and inadequate and he marks it as a literary pitfall. Thwaite (1976), further comments that Narayan‟s low proficiency of English makes his work look insufficient. Thus, he claims that Narayan‟s inadequate command of the English language brings out a fake or too fictitious an expression. Further, he claims that Narayan could have expressed more genuine and authentic picture of Indian reality if he had written in Tamil, his mother tongue (Thwaite, 1976). Thus, this brings another query of whether Thwaite (1976), questions Narayan‟s English language proficiency or is he mocking a writer‟s creativity? On one count, Narayan uses simple language with straightforward sentence structures and very natively translated sentences from Tamil to English. Thus, his syntax appears monotonous in the arrangement of the same subject-predicate-object form and his vocabulary is labelled „modest‟ with compression of suggested meanings conspicuous by their absence (Thwaite, 1976). However, that does not reflect the academic background of the writer. Instead, the habitual informal interaction with native speakers of the language should be taken as circumstances responsible for this inadequacy and inefficiency of his linguistic armour. Narayan himself states in an interview with William Walsh (1971), that he is never aware that he is “using a foreign language when he writes” (Walsh, 1971, p.7). On another count, Narayan is just another creative writer who deliberately writes in such a language in order to maintain the authenticity of his story lines. For 45
  46. 46. instance, it will be very contradicting for a character‟s command of language to be upgraded due to the reason that the author of the novel is a proficient user of the language. Should the author improve the character‟s language proficiency, than the originality of the story will not sustain in the written form. At the same time, Narayan also bridges a relationship between ordinary Indian people with the people at the other end of the world through his writing. Thus, if the language in Narayan‟s works is rearranged and reformed, than it will lose its Indian touch and it will deliver less of India to the readers. Therefore, there are probabilities for the novels not to be as appealing as the original works of Narayan. Indeed, Narayan‟s writings may not carry complicated revolutionary messages as Tharoor‟s Riot: A Love Story (2001) or The Great Indian Novel (1989) who classified Narayan‟s writing as having a “pedestrian style with shallow vocabulary and narrow vision” (Tharoor, 2001, p.15). However, Narayan‟s writings carry numerous literature of India‟s social reality along with his alluring sense of humour throughout his works. Therefore, it is convincing that Narayan‟s use of English is simple, readable, and enjoyable. In one way or the other, his writings will always be remembered for the simplicity of his language and spontaneity of expression as the writer himself claims that he “successfully conveyed the thoughts and acts of a set of personalities who flourish in a small town named Malgudi located in a corner of South India” (Bhatnagar, 2008, p.22). Besides the feature of simplicity, Narayan‟s character representations are also widely criticized. Bhatnagar (2008) argues that Narayan‟s new women in his later 46
  47. 47. novels remain as unconvincing as the traditional Hindu wife in The Dark Room (1982) does. He says that the probability for his women characters to appear such could be “due to the reluctance of Narayan to arrive at a systematic philosophy of life” (Bhatnagar, 2008, p.27-28). Bhatnagar‟s (2008), claim is also very vague because Narayan is a writer whose writing evolves as the time changes. Starting from his very first book, Swami and Friends (1983) to his last The Painter of Signs (1977), the difference between the story lines and character representation is rather obvious. To pick a sample, Rosie of The Guide (1978) represents a new class of women who experiences opportunity to join colleges and universities, unlike Savitri in The Dark Room (1982) who suffers bad treatment from her husband and is caught in between the traditional clutches of Indian culture. This novel was written many years before The Guide (1978). Contrasting from Savitri, Rosie‟s education enhances in her the awareness of the individuality despite the contemporary social attitudes towards women during that period. On the other hand, Daisy of The Painter of Signs (1977) is a prospering model of women. She is entirely so different from Savitri of The Dark Room (1982), an unorthodox cast of Narayan‟s new women. Furthermore, Narayan explained that in The Dark Room (1982), he emphasized in “presenting the utter dependence of woman on man in Indian society” (Bhatnagar, 2008, p.27). Thus, Bhatnagar‟s (2008), claim is not valid because Narayan‟s later works portray much liberated and modernized women characters that are not under the suppression of contemporary Indian tradition as he claims. Instead, they are of open-minded women who do not depend on men in many circumstances. Daisy for instance, is different as she is not dependent on men, rather she is completely independent and able to stand by 47
  48. 48. herself. This explains that Narayan‟s maintained the development of his new women and he has moved along with the time in forming up the women characters in his writings. Another interesting angle of Narayan is his Hindu ideals. More than often, he is largely criticized for being a writer devoted to this aspect due to the claim that his writings lack purpose. Although it is convincing that he concentrates on Hindu ideals but that does not make his work lack purpose. He is a writer who writes about everyday life. He describes daily happenings and brings out many simple issues of daily life. Narayan leaves The Guide (1978) without an ending neither did he in The Painter of Signs (1977). Many regard this as the writer‟s inability to make his work purposeful. However, from another point of view, Nayaran leaves his novels open ended and this could be a deliberate deed. Thus, he leaves his readers to reflect on the story before they arrive at a decision. Furthermore, belonging to a Hindu background, it is common to find his writing reflecting his origins. Moreover, he is very artistic at picking up the happenings of Indian reality and placing them in the city of Malgudi. Along with it he forwards his ideas gently through his humour without offending anyone reading his works. All in all, despite many critics on his writing, Narayan‟s work traverse from one end to another end of the world for its genuine story line, promising the readers a satisfying piece of work. 48
  49. 49. 2.5 SUMMARY Concisely, the relationship between women and power is very complex. Thus, it is important to discern the role of power in women‟s life in order to understand the improvement power would bring into their life. Therefore, the researcher chooses Foucault‟s theory of power to examine and study how power influences women‟s life in Narayan‟s Waiting for the Mahatma (1955) and The Painter of Signs (1977). Since power is a central concept in the study of women‟s movement, the researcher also considered the relationship between feminism and Foucault‟s theory of power. On the other hand, the researcher has also provided a literary review on Narayan‟s writing, the previous research conducted and the criticism on his works. Besides that, since Narayan is an Indian author who writes English novels and stories, the researcher has also included review on Indian women living in India to provide profound information relating to this study. Besides that, the researcher also provided a framework for this study in figure 2.1 in the next page for better understanding on the flow of this study. Figure 2.1 comprises Foucault‟s theory of power. Firstly, power is exercised rather than possessed, secondly, power is productive, and thirdly, power is analysed as coming from the bottom. The researcher uses these three main ideas of Foucault‟s in analysing Narayan‟s selected novels. The researcher has provided an extensive review and explanation about Foucault‟s theory of power in Chapter Two of this study. Foucault‟s theory of power then leads to the thematic analysis on Narayan‟s selected novels namely The Painter of Signs (1977) and Waiting for the Mahatma (1955). 49
  50. 50. The novels are analysed based on two research questions. The first research question addresses when the women characters of Narayan exercise power in the microlevel power relation. Meanwhile the second research question tackles how Narayan‟s women characters gain empowerment through the notion of „power-over‟ and „power-to‟. Both of these research questions seek the answers from Narayan‟s selected novels with the intention to understand the role of power in women‟s life. In attempt to answer this research questions the researcher uses thematic analysis. Power and women are the main theme of this research. These themes are derived from the Foucault‟s theory of power. In short, figure 2.1 illustrates the framework of this study where it starts from the central element of this research, which is Foucault‟s theory of power (1978). Than the figure illustrates the method that the researcher choose to use, which is thematic analysis to analyse Narayan‟s selected novels which leads to the research questions of this study. Lastly, figure 2.1 illustrates the results of the analyses in form of the role of power in women‟s life through the microlevel power relations. 50
  51. 51. Foucault’s theory of power: 1. Power is exercised rather than possessed 2. Power is not primarily repressive, but productive 3. Power is analyzed as coming from the bottom up (Foucault, 1978, p.92-93) Thematic analysis on R.K Narayan’s 1. The Painter of Signs (1977) 2. Waiting for the Mahatma (1955) In what circumstances do the women How do Narayan’s women characters characters in Narayan’s Waiting for gain empowerment through the notion the Mahatma (1955) and The Painter of ‘power-over’ and ‘power-to’ in his of Signs (1977) exercise power in the Waiting for the Mahatma (1955) and microlevel power relations? The Painter of Signs (1977)? The role of power in women’s life 51
  52. 52. CHAPTER 3 3.0 INTRODUCTION In this chapter, the researcher describes the methodology used to analyze women and microlevel power in Narayan‟s Waiting for the Mahatma (1955) and The Painter of Signs (1977). Firstly, the researcher defines and explains thematic analysis. Secondly, researcher describes the selection of the novels and the theory selected for the study and in the last section, the researcher describes the interpretation of the analysis. 3.1 Thematic Analysis In the attempt to conduct this study, the researcher used thematic analysis, a form of textual analysis used widely in the social sciences (Thatchenkery & Metzker, 2006). According to Thatchenkery & Metzker (2006), thematic analysis is normally used to find commonalities, trends or patterns in a set of subjects in order to answer questions, as in the terms of this paper, to answer the research questions. On the other hand, Marks & Yardley (2004), define theme as a precise pattern encountered in the data in which one is interested and that it is directly observable. Thus, as in for this research, power and women are two themes the researcher encountered in Narayan‟s novels. Therefore, the researcher finds it rational to use thematic analysis as it consist of themes and as well allows the researcher to draw inferences from the text likened to fiction and non-fiction (Reinharz, 1992, p.145). Furthermore, many studies involving novels or text-based materials use thematic analysis as their method to analyze the outcome. Therefore, the researcher found 52
  53. 53. thematic analysis, which is one of the research techniques in the social sciences to be appropriate to analyze the extracts from Narayan‟s Waiting for the Mahatma (1955) and Painter of Signs (1977). Among scholars, Betty Friedan used the technique of thematic analysis in her book, The Feminine Mystique (Quindlen, 2001). Friedan analyzed articles on women‟s magazine fiction where she explains the childish themes that dominate women‟s magazine fiction (Reinharz, 1992, p.150). Besides that, Elma (2006), also adopted thematic analysis as the methodology to study the representation of women‟s agency by the female character in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer‟s Stone. Millett on the other hand, used thematic analysis to examine male writer‟s language in describing heterosexual sex and women (Reinharz, 1992, p.154) and Katherine Pope analyzed a pattern of inconsistency between the self and the female role in many famous novels written by women and men (Reinharz, 1992, p.154). 3.2 Selected Novels & Theory Having decided the method, researcher selected two novels written by Narayan, namely Waiting for the Mahatma (1955) and The Painter of Signs (1977). Next, the researcher reads the novels critically and selects relevant extract from the novel based on the theme and the context of the study, which are power and women. The selection of the extracts was based on Foucault‟s notion of power and the occurrence of women characters. After identifying the extracts the researcher than attempted to answer her research questions on how power operate among women characters and how the 53
  54. 54. women character gain empowerment through the themes of „power-over‟ and „power- to‟ at the microlevel dimension in the selected novels of Narayan. 3.3 Interpretation of the Analysis The researcher used thematic analysis in order to analyse Narayan‟s Waiting for the Mahatma (1955) and The Painter of Signs (1977). Following the themes and Foucault‟s (1978) theory of power, the researcher firstly selected suitable texts for the study and read them. Then, the researcher selected extracts from the novels through the selected themes, namely power and women where the researcher looks up for suitable excerpts from the novels that reflect to Foucault‟s theory of power in relation to Narayan‟s women characters. Later, the researcher made inferences with reference to Foucault‟s (1978), theory of power and the women characters. Next, the researcher discussed the occurrence of power relations found in the extract taken from the novel and critically analyzed the microlevel power relations found in the extracts with regard to Narayan‟s women characters. The researcher finally, answers the research questions for the study in context to Foucault‟s (1978), theory of power and presents the analysis accordingly. 54
  55. 55. CHAPTER 4 4.0 INTRODUCTION In this chapter, the researcher analyses Narayan‟s Waiting for the Mahatma (1955) and The Painter of Signs (1977) and attempts to answer research question one, that is, in what circumstances do the women characters in Narayan‟s Waiting for the Mahatma (1955) and The Painter of Signs (1977) exercise power. The researcher analyses the research question with close reference to Foucault‟s (1978), theory that says power can only be exercised over free subjects and there should be possibilities for the subjects to react and behave in a different way in order for power relations to take place. Since there are four women characters in these novels namely, Daisy and Laxmi in The Painter of Signs (1977) and Sriram‟s grandmother and Bharathi in Waiting for the Mahatma (1955), the researcher divides the analysis into two sections. Thus, section 4.1 is on Freedom and Power Relations in The Painter of Signs (1977) and 4.2 is on Freedom and Power Relations in Waiting for the Mahatma (1955). Lastly, section 4.3 comprises a summary for this chapter. 4.1 FREEDOM AND POWER RELATIONS IN THE PAINTER OF SIGNS In this section, the researcher analyses instances in which Daisy and Laxmi exercise power. The following are the analyses of the excerpts when Daisy and Laxmi exercise power in Narayan‟s The Painter of Signs (1977). His thoughts hovered around the person who commissioned him this work...Daisy (pg.31) 55
  56. 56. Daisy, a new entrant to Malgudi is a social servant bent on bringing India‟s population down. She is a woman who pays Raman to design a signboard for her clinic. Daisy, an Indian woman who belongs to a society that looks down on women at work is involved in social work. She has the freedom to enforce the notion of bringing India‟s population down. At such, Daisy pays Raman to get her mission on the move. She is not bound under any types of power. She exercises power and has freedom to move towards her aims. By paying Raman, Daisy exercises power through the power relation of painter-customer. She exercises power without any constraint at the microlevels of the society. Daisy and Raman are also found to be in a woman-man power relation. In this relation of power, Daisy has the freedom to exercise power: There seem to be no one else in her house- courageous of her to admit a fellow in (pg.34). Raman and Daisy are strangers to each other. In the woman-man power relation, Daisy exercises power by letting Raman into her house bravely. She is not shown as a woman who is bound to let Raman into the house. Instead, she herself invites him in, thus allowing Raman to enter her house. In Indian society, it is seen as a crime if a man enters a woman‟s house when she is home alone. However, Daisy is courageous enough to overlook their culture by giving Raman permission to enter her house. Thus, Daisy has the freedom to let Raman into her house through woman-man power relationship. 56
  57. 57. In another circumstance, Daisy exercises power through the relation of customer-painter again: He stood at the door paused for a moment, and said, „I can come later if you please. „Yes,‟ said the lady drily, and noticing the board he was carrying, „Is that our board?‟ „Yes, it‟s only a trial writing, not final.‟ Leave it there and come back‟- she glanced at her watch- „in thirty minutes.‟ (pg.41) Here, Daisy exercises power as a person who orders Raman to work on the signboard for her clinic. She requests him to come later, and due to the reason that she is paying him, Raman has to obey her demand. She asks him to come back later at her convenience. Narayan presented Daisy, as a woman who is not under control but who controls herself. She is free to do, as she desires. The author did not present anyone in the mode of being ultimately powerful. They are all in a neutral mode and only exercise power when they are in a free power relation. Although Raman was paid to work on her signboard, it does not put him under any repressing mode of power. Raman could have said that he can‟t wait for 30 minutes, but he did not. Thus, he was also in the mode to exercise power but he did not choose to do so and this means, both Daisy and Raman were in a free power relation to exercise power. As Foucault (1978) says, power relation will only occur when both parties involved in the power relation are free to act and react. Hence, there should not be any restriction in the power relation. Therefore, in this circumstance, 57