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BEGC-111: Women's Writing

BEGC-111: Women's Writing

IGNOU Solved Assignment Solution for 2022-23

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Assignment Code: BEGC-111/TMA/2022-23

Course Code: BEGC-111

Assignment Name: Women’s Writing

Year: 2022-2023

Verification Status: Verified by Professor


Max. Marks: 100


Attempt ALL the questions.



Explain the following with reference to the context:


1. I wonder if it hurts to live –

And if They have to try –

And whether – could They choose between –

It would not be – to die – 5

Ans) The above lines are taken from ‘I measure every Grief I meet’ by Emily Dickinson. "I measure every grief I meet" is a poem that mostly uses clear language and syntax to talk about grief, sadness, death, and time. The poet puts the reader in the mind of a speaker, who may or may not be the poet herself. There are times in this poem when a close reader who knows about Dickinson's life and personal sorrows might be able to connect what the speaker is saying to Dickinson's own experiences.


In the above line of "I measure every grief I meet," the poet thinks about whether or not other people's grief causes them pain in their everyday lives. Here, both the mood of the poem and the tone of the speaker get darker. She says that other people might be so sad that they might be thinking about killing themselves. By asking if other people struggle in the same way, she shows the reader that she herself is struggling to want to live.


2. The language I speak

Becomes mine, its distortions, its queerness

All mine, mine alone. It is half English, half

Indian, funny perhaps, but it is honest,

It is as human as I am human, don’t

You see? 5

Ans) The above lines are taken from ‘An Introduction’ by Kamala Das. This completely honest poem shows how badly she wants to feel free in life. The poem is told in a clear, direct, sharp, and unwavering voice. Even though this poem is very personal and based on the poet's own life, it tries to cover almost every social, political, cultural, and emotional ground.


In these lines, Das talks about how her friends and family make her angry when they tell her to speak in Malayalam instead of English. She writes in English because that is a language she knows well. On the other hand, her friends, family, and critics don't like her habit. Since English is the language of the colonisers, everyone attacks her for writing in it. This interference in her life makes her more strong-willed. She says, "Leave me alone." She tells her friends, family, and people in general to leave her alone. She wants them to stop writing down and following her every move. She asks them why they are so mean to her. Why can't she write in whatever language she chooses? Last, she says that language is not something that anyone can own. She will use the words that fit her personality best, because they will be hers: "All mine, mine alone." She writes in her own language, which is perfect just the way it is, with all of its flaws, oddities, and quirks. Even though the language isn't always correct from a grammatical point of view because it isn't all English, she thinks it at least shows who she is. Her language is not perfect, just like she is not. It has its own flaws, problems, and weirdness, which is fine.


3. You need no book, Rasha Sundari

no paper or pen either

you have the black, smudgy kitchen wall

for your magical scribbles

lines, ellipses, curves

all of them your secret codes for

a whole new world. 5

Ans) The above lines are taken from ‘Don’t Wash’ by Lakshmi Kannan.


The main metaphor in the poem is the idea of washing. "Wash" stands for traditions that are sacred and should not be questioned. Hindu ceremonies include washing the place of worship, altar, and statues of gods and goddesses. Water is a very important part of Hinduism. Water itself cleans dirt. In the poem, however, the poet convinces Rasha Sundari Debi not to wash the walls of her kitchen so that anything she may have written on the walls stays there. Rasha Sundari's hopes are shown by the sooty writing on the walls, which also helps to define who she is. Not washing the walls is like saying you shouldn't change yourself because society expects you to be different. Your uniqueness is what will make the world a better place where everyone, man or woman, has a fair chance to realise their worth. Rasha Sundari's kitchen walls, which are black from charcoal soot, look dirty and the kitchen is a mess. But the poet says that the akshara is written on the walls, so they shouldn't be cleaned. If you think about it a little more, you'll realise that in Hinduism, the written word (called akshara) is holy. The poem says that the akshara is still holy even though it was written by a woman, and that this does not make it dirty.

4. When some day in distant parts she dwells

Where what the people be like! I know not,

Will they awaken her on gentle, mellow sounds?

Or, will they, I misgive, snatch her sleep away? 5

Ans) The above lines are taken from ‘Solitude - For The Girl Child’ by Naseem Shafaie. In "Solitude - for the Girl Child," we see how worried a mother is about her daughter, who hasn't grown up yet. The mother worries that her young daughter, who is full of life, spontaneity, and happiness right now, will soon have to follow suffocating social norms. Because of these traditions, the child will have to get married and be a good, respectful wife and daughter-in-law. She will have no choice but to do what her in-laws tell her to do. The mother prays that her daughter will be taken care of in the home of her husband, which will be in a strange country with strange customs. This poem is sad because the girl's spontaneity, freedom, and carefree ways can't be saved.


In the above line, she says that the idea that she could leave home and live with strangers who might like her makes her nervous. The mother worries a lot about what will happen to her daughter, who has always slept undisturbed and only been spoken to softly in her own home. There's a good chance that the people she ends up living with will be loud and disrespectful to women, which is very different from the way they live and think. The poem ends on a tense note, with the mother saying that her biggest worry is that her daughter might lose all of her peace of mind and never sleep again.


5. What are the issues that Mary Wollstonecraft touches upon? 10

Ans) The issues that Mary Wollstonecraft touches upon are as follows:


The Importance of the Home: Wollstonecraft agreed with the common belief of her time that women's place is in the home, but she didn't separate the home from public life like many others did. She thought that life in the public eye and life at home were not separate but linked. Wollstonecraft thought that the home was important because it is the centre of both social life and public life. She said that the state, or public life, makes people and families better and helps them. In this situation, she wrote that both men and women have responsibilities to their families and to the government.


The Benefits of Educating Women: Wollstonecraft also argued that women should have the right to be educated, since they were mostly in charge of teaching children. She went on to say that getting women educated would make marriages stronger. She thought that a stable marriage was when a husband and wife worked together. To keep the relationship going, a woman needs to know as much as her husband and be able to think like him. A stable marriage also helps make sure that children get the right education.


First, Wollstonecraft understood that women are sexual creatures. But, she said, so are men, too. That means that chastity and faithfulness on the part of men are just as important for a stable marriage as chastity and faithfulness on the part of women. Men have to put duty before sexual pleasure just as much as women do. Gilbert Imlay, the father of her oldest daughter, may have helped Wollstonecraft see this point more clearly because he wasn't able to meet this standard. Putting duty ahead of pleasure doesn't mean that your feelings don't matter. Wollstonecraft's goal was to bring together how people felt and what they thought. She called the fact that the two were getting along "reason." The Enlightenment philosophers cared a lot about the idea of reason, but Wollstonecraft's focus on nature, feelings, and sympathy helped pave the way for the Romanticism movement that came after.


Mary Wollstonecraft found that when women focused on things related to fashion and beauty, it made them less able to use their minds and do their job in a marriage. She also thought that it made them less good at teaching children. By putting feeling and thought together instead of separating them based on gender, Wollstonecraft was also criticising Jean-Jacques Rousseau, a philosopher who believed in personal rights for men but not for women. Rousseau believed that women should not have the same freedoms as men. He thought that women couldn't think and only men could be trusted to use logic and reason. In the end, this meant that only men, not women, could be citizens. Rousseau's ideas put women in a separate and less important place.


Equality and Freedom: In her book, Wollstonecraft made it clear that she thought women could be equal partners with their husbands and in society. A hundred years after she fought for women's rights, women had more opportunities in life because they had better access to education.


6. Comment on the changed perspective in Chandrabhati’s Ramayana. 10

Ans) The Ramayana by Valmiki starts with janmalila, which is a whole section about Rama's birth. Chandrabati breaks with this tradition by starting her epic by telling about Sita's birth in the first six parts. Sita is born as an incarnation of the goddess Laxmi to fulfil a divine prophecy. She comes to this world to put an end to Ravana. So, she is the main character. In Valmiki, Raja Janak finds Sita in the fields, where she had been left. But in Chandrabati, Sita is the child of Mandodari and doesn't have a father. Because Brahma gave him a boon, Chandrabati Ramayana shows us a Ravana who is drunk, cruel, and too ambitious.


Ravana kills sages and puts their blood in a box to use as poison to kill the gods and make them die. He takes beautiful women hostage and spends time with them, ignoring his wife Mandodari completely. Mandodari drinks this powerful potion to end her life and pain because she is so sad. But in a dramatic turn, she doesn't die. Instead, she gives birth to Sita as an egg. So, Sita is born from the blood of ascetics who were brutally killed and the pain of Mandodari, who had been ignored and hurt for a long time. When Mandodari finds out that Ravana wants to break the egg, she puts it in a golden box and makes Ravana throw it into the ocean from the window of her castle. Over the Bay of Bengal, the egg floats. Ravana will go to hell because he tried to kill an innocent person. What does the egg do? Does it get broken? No. Madhab Jalia, a poor but honest fisherman, finds it. Sata, his religious wife, does holy rituals and treats the egg with reverence. This makes Goddess Lakshmi happy, and she blesses the couple with wealth and happiness. In a dream, Lakshmi comes to see Sata and tells her to give the egg to King Janak's wife. Sata goes to the Queen and gives her the egg. She asks the Queen to give the baby the name Sita, after herself. Her wish comes true, and the child is named Sita, which is a form of Sata. Her conception and birth are just like those of a classic male hero.


Chandrabati's Sita is one of the earliest radical feminists because she was born miraculously and by God's will without a male figure in charge. Chandrabati only talks about the birth of Rama, his three brothers, and his evil sister Kukuya in two later, shorter sections. Her name has the Bengali and Sanskrit word for bad (ku) pronounced twice. Chandrabati Ramayana subtly goes against the hero code and rewrites it. Epics have always been governed by a heroic code that says the main character must be a man who is good, strong, and good at fighting. He should follow the patriarchal social code that is the norm. Chandrabati speaks out against patriarchal ideas in her own voice. Sita takes the spotlight with a supernatural birth that is usually reserved for heroes.


7. How does Ambai critique patriarchy in her story? 10

Ans) "A Kitchen in the Corner of the House" is a storey about relationships, power struggles, and patriarchal rules in an Indian home. Ambai says, "Their way of life does include the kitchen, and it was built around the idea of the kitchen." The small room they call the kitchen has seen them dream, hope, suffer, and make deals to stay alive. In this storey, Kishen's mom has a heart attack. Even when she's about to pass out, the first thing that comes to her mind is how dangerous the kitchen will be after she's gone. Throughout the storey, men are in important roles. On the other hand, women are treated as second-class citizens with fewer rights. When men are taking it easy after a hard day's work, women have to stay in the kitchen. Even after working outside the house, they had to work in the kitchen. Men don't help in any way.


Ambai thinks of food and cooking as a way to exert power or control over her family. The storey looks at the mother-in-fake law's power in the kitchen and how a hierarchy is set up there. In this way, Ambai's work shows the fights that happen in the kitchens of most Indian families. But the kitchen is in bad shape, which makes it hard for the women who spend most of their day cooking for the whole family. Before Minakshi joined the family, no one thought about making the kitchen better. Here, the small, dark, and damp kitchen becomes a symbol of strict adherence to tradition. So, when we think of the kitchen, we think of long-held traditions that suffocate women from the inside and the outside. It also stands for a set of traditions that have already been set up and don't need to be changed. Ambai puts the tradition to the test and rejects it in two ways.


Minakshi broke the rule that a woman should never give advice to a man when she said this. So, she becomes the sign of freedom. Right after she got married, Minakshi was brave enough to suggest to the head of the family that some changes be made to the kitchen. In the storey, Ambai uses symbols that remind us of freedom and the idea that women should be free. In the first part of the storey, pictures of green mountains and a temple are shown. A beautiful view is hidden by the clothesline, which is too bad. In this case, the mountain stands for freedom and power. From the window in the kitchen, you can see the beautiful mountain range. But the cloth line makes it hard to see. It shows how the grim image of the kitchen makes the symbols of freedom seem less important. Different rules of society make it hard for women to see that power and equality are important.


In the storey, Ambai uses symbols that remind us of freedom and the idea that women should be free. In the first part of the storey, pictures of green mountains and a temple are shown. A beautiful view is hidden by the clothesline, which is too bad. In this case, the mountain stands for freedom and power. From the window in the kitchen, you can see the beautiful mountain range. But the cloth line makes it hard to see. It shows how the grim image of the kitchen makes the symbols of freedom seem less important. Different rules of society make it hard for women to see that power and equality are important. In Ambai's short storey, the kitchen as a part of the house is used to show how gender is created in society. The rules and politics of the patriarchal system are set by the walls of the kitchen. This work is a call to rethink and rebuild the role of women in today's society and politics, especially since both men and women work to support their families.


8. Can The Yellow Wallpaper be described as self-confessional literature? Elaborate. 10

Ans) Yes. The Yellow Wallpaper is a piece of self-confessional writing in which the author talks about her own life. She talks about how marriage and motherhood almost drove her crazy because her husband wouldn't listen to her physical and emotional problems. She insisted she was "sick" and needed to keep her mind busy so she could rest and get better. But her husband made her stay by herself. He was a doctor, but he didn't know much about how women were healthy. But, like most men of his time, he thought he knew what was best for women. At the time, women were thought to be hysterical, unable to adapt, and unable to think or analyse. People used to think that women shouldn't do anything intellectual because it might make them nervous.


The narrator tells her journal a secret about how strange it is to get treatment from a doctor who doesn't think the patient is sick. The narrator feels better when she writes down how she really feels and, in this case, what she really thinks about how she's being treated. Even though she feels like she can't tell anyone else about her suspicion—or maybe she already has, and they didn't like it—she feels better when she says it out loud. The fact that her husband/doctor doesn't let her express herself shows that they don't understand each other, which is bad for her mental health.


The storyteller talks about how she feels when she sees John coming and has to stop writing. Readers know that she is writing this text against the orders of John, her husband and doctor, who thinks that writing is bad for her health and told her not to do it. Even though she respects her husband's opinion and skill in general, she thinks she knows better in her own case because writing helps her feel better. Or maybe she isn't sure if writing helps, but she can't stop doing it. She is just a writer, so she has to write. When John says that he doesn't like it when she writes, he is indirectly saying that he doesn't like it when she is herself.


The narrator is getting worse mentally. John, her husband and doctor, tells her she can't write because he thinks it makes her mental state worse, but she keeps secretly writing down her thoughts. In fact, she writes this account to describe everything she goes through while she is sick. Now, she thinks that her depression is getting worse because she doesn't have the energy to write at all. Her thoughts and ideas keep coming at her nonstop, but she no longer knows how to deal with them in a healthy way. The narrator gets to a point where only a big change in how she is treated will keep her from going crazy.


The narrator shows how hard it is for her because John won't let her write, but she needs to write or even just say out loud what she wants to say. John's constant criticism of writing and other ways of expressing oneself makes the narrator more depressed and less able to write, even when John is not around. Still, she feels compelled to keep writing this account when she can, and it helps her to get her feelings out. Unfortunately, journaling is the only thing she can do to feel better because she has to keep her thoughts to herself, even about her own treatment, and this isn't enough to keep her mind healthy.



9. How does Sunlight on a Broken Column reflect the society of that time and place? 20

Ans) Attia Hosain's only book, which came out in 1961, is a classic book about Muslim life. It's about the traditional feudal society where Attia Hosain was born, before India and Pakistan were split up.


“Her greatest strength lies in her ability to draw a rich, full portrait of her society – ignoring none of its many faults and cruelties, and capable of including not only men and women of immense power and privilege but, to an equal extent, the poor who laboured as their servants. Perhaps the most attractive aspect of her writing is the tenderness she shows for those who served her family, an empathy for a class not her own.”


Sunlight on a Broken Column takes place mostly in Lucknow in the 1930s. The storey is about Laila, who was left without a family after her parents died. At the start of the book, Laila, who is 15 years old, lives with her grandfather and is raised by her two aunts, who follow purdah, along with her cousin Zahra. Zahra is carefree, but she is happy to live the traditional life that has been planned for her. When the book starts, people are already talking about Zahra's marriage. Baba Jan, Laila's grandfather, is a powerful figure who is so respected that the whole family revolves around him. At the beginning of the book, he is old and sick, and Laila's life will change when he dies.


Soon, Laila will be living with her uncle Hamid, who is a "liberal" but is cold and bossy. As Laila gets older and starts college, she meets a lot of different people. Politics are a big topic of conversation for many of her family and friends, but Laila herself can't commit to any cause other than her own freedom. Uncle Hamid's more open-minded family and Zahra's marriage give Laila access to a part of society that unmarried girls haven't had access to in the past. We can get a glimpse of India's future and the changes that are coming by looking at Laila's younger friends and relatives. Attia Hosain has given Laila's aunts, especially Aunt Abida, the traditional role of a self-sacrificing, obedient woman, which Laila finds hard to understand.


“I think Destiny’s purpose is merely to shock us at moments into a state of awareness; those moments are milestones in between which we have to find our own way.”


Laila is a girl with a strong will. Her fight for her own independence is just as hard as India's fight for independence. Hosain does a great job of showing how this world makes a young woman feel trapped and how frustrated she is. Laila grew up in a world where the traditional rules of obedience, honour, and dishonour are more important than personal happiness and where the feudal society still controls the lives of the servant class. She starts to rebel against these traditional ways. Laila is horrified when a servant woman's family doesn't get her medical help because they don't know how. Desperate to save the woman, Laila sends her to the hospital, but it's too late. Attia Hosain was born into one of these "Taluqhdari" families in 1913. The rules for the servant classes are just as harsh, if not harsher, and the punishments for a female servant who is seduced or abused by a man are horribly cruel.


Through Laila's older eyes, we see how partition changed these kinds of families, how it broke up households and ended a way of life. This is a brilliant way to end the book. Sunlight on a Broken Column is an interesting and moving storey about a traditional Indian family in the ten years before the partition of India.


10. What do you think women’s writing seeks to express? 20

Ans) Publishers have often said that women's literature is a type of writing that was done by women. Even though this is true, many scholars think that this definition is too simple. The history of women's writing is interesting because it is a new area of study in many ways. Because women have been seen as less important in societies dominated by men, their writing has been mostly ignored. Even now, it's not uncommon for women to be underrepresented in literature classes or collections, or even to be left out of them entirely. Women's writing tries to show how the way men and women think about gender inequality keeps it going.


So, the job of women's literature is to classify and create a field of study for a group of people who have been left out of history and to look at their lives through their writing while they occupied a unique social and political place in their culture. In the 1800s, more women than in any other century before them wrote books that were published. Access to higher education for women grew by leaps and bounds over the course of the century, giving them skills, they could use to improve their art.


The growth of the market economy, cities, and life expectancies changed how women in Europe and the U.S. were expected to adapt to new social pressures. This made many women more aware of the social, legal, and political inequality they were forced to live with. Lastly, the many social reform movements started by women in the 1800s, like religious revivalism, abolition, temperance, and women's suffrage, gave women writers a context, an audience, and a place to talk about their ideas.


Most scholars agree that many women writers either explicitly or implicitly accepted the separate sphere of domesticity that the time expected of them. However, they also say that as the century went on, more and more women began to write about their dissatisfaction with gender roles and the situation of women in general. During the Victorian era, the "woman question" about women's true place in art and society was a hotly debated topic. In large part, this was because the number of books written by and for women was growing quickly.

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