My paper seeks to throw some light on the historical and social significance of Bankim Chandra’s Rajmohan’s Wife



                                  Rajmohan’s Wife: Voice of the Long Silenced

My paper seeks to throw some light on the historical and social significance of Bankim Chandra’s Rajmohan’s Wife. In the mid-19th century, in India, novel as a genre was at its infancy and while romance was accepted as a narrative mode, there was no precedent as yet of mimetic rendering of domestic life in fiction or of weaving a plot out of contemporary social and familiar situations. However, Rajmohan’s Wife is very much realistic in its presentation of the life issues-caste system, domestic violence, colonial intrusion, victimization of women and evils of patriarchy. Another significant theme in the text is the idea of morality. The 18th century India was a society of serious and complicated nature. It was a society dominated by strict codes and social taboos, and Much of Bankim’s fictional movement arises from this central conflict between the inevitability of moral orders and inevitability of their transgressions and with this novel Chatterjee goes to paint a protagonist that transgresses the societal norms, yet has a didactic epilogue. Through this paper I also aspire to celebrate Chatterjee’s courage for composing a novel based on the theme of social reformation with a female character at its centre.

Bankim Chandra Chatterjee started writing his first novel Rajmohan’s Wife in the year 1864.the novel was written in English and appeared serially in the magazine ‘Indian Field’. Rajmohan’s Wife is regarded the first Indian novel in English literature but may be due to the less popularity of the novel at the time of its appearance, Bankim abandoned his creative in English altogether and went on to write novels and discursive prose in Bangla. His Bangla novels like Durgesnandini, Anandamath, Devi Chaudhurani, Kapalkundala and so on, gathered immense popularity and were also critically acclaimed, but his first novel left behind no such wake. Critics often dismiss it as a false start but it would be grossly inappropriate to deny that Rajmohan’s Wife contains all the seeds of style developed by Chatterjee in his later novels.

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