The three famous ones – The Hindu

Sex is an important theme in several 20th Century novels, but these three 19th Century novels include ‘The Scarlet Letter’.

Sex is an important theme in several 20th Century novels, but these three 19th Century novels include ‘The Scarlet Letter’.

The decriminalization of prostitution by the Supreme Court of India also addresses the critical issue of women’s agency and independence. The judges were very clear in their opinion that women are not the property of men and men are not their sovereign when it comes to marriage.

The law criminalizing prostitution was first enacted in 1860 under the Second Law Commission. Interestingly, some of the best stories in the world literature on the subject of sexuality are now known but they offer a new perspective on the subject. Nathanial Hawthorne’s “The Scarlet Letter” appeared in 1850, French novelist Gustav Flaubert’s “Madame Bovary” in 1857 and Leo Tolstoy’s “Anna Karenina” in 1878. all three stories feature a serious woman in an unhappy and unhappy marriage, who commits adultery. The historian differs from case to case in the question of infidelity.

“Madame Bovary” book cover

Emma Bovary of “Madame Bovary”, an unmarried woman married to an elderly man, is trapped in her humdrum provincial residence from which she tries to escape without success. Influenced by his reading of romance literature “she is the protagonist of all novels, the heroine of all plays, the ‘she’ of all comic books.” He tries to live those moments in real life, “the lyrical legion of these immoral women began to sing in his memory”, and he ends sexual relations with insincere men who gave He has no help when he faces problems in his life. But more than a study of romantic ignorance, the story is a powerful critique of the forces and ideas that trap Emma Bovary: oppressive institutions, the evils of time, the responsibility of the petty bourgeoisie, the tyranny of religion, and unbelief. in science and philosophy.

Leo Tolstoy

Leo Tolstoy

Tolstoy’s “Anna Karenina”, a story of a larger canvas, takes social, psychological and spiritual themes and sexuality is one of the themes of the book. As in most stories of sexuality, the concept of marriage is not denied in the story – but is shown through the study of three different families, the Karenins, Levins and Oblonskys – but “Anna Karenina” is seeing Tolstoy’s last phase in his time. Skepticism grew in the institution of marriage and supported the idea of ​​the spiritual bond of man, an idea that inspired Gandhiji. In particular, Tolstoy is a novelist who overflows with the wisdom of the story, refusing to judge his immoral heroine. Although atheism is important in the novel, “Anna Karenina” also offers a warning against, to use the words of Joshua Rothman, the story and love religion.

Voice problem

Of the three stories, it is “The Scarlet Letter” that begins the question of sexuality in different ways, almost simulating this idea through its heroine Hester Prynne. Hester is made to wear a scarlet letter A on her lap by the puritan society as a sign of her sin of adultery, Hester refuses to think of herself as a sinner. Hester belongs to the 17th century Boston Puritan, created by a nineteenth century novelist, but she, more than any other female character of her time, feels many of the concerns that exist. to our five judges in the debate on adultery but he accepted as a reason. for divorce.

Because of her love for Arthur Dimmesdale, a clergyman, she refuses to reveal her identity. And because of her disdain for her abusive husband and her attachment to a loveless marriage, she kept her mind locked on. The puritan society is trying hard to inculcate sin in him.

But Hester puts her letter A less as a sign of shame and more like a decoration because in her mind she is questioning the true nature of patriarchal conditions and male-female relationship.

Hester used her choice. He took care of his body and his desires even though he was despised by the people. But he was not a real rebel because only in his mind was he against the puritan social system. However, the story has many moments that capture Hester’s conflict, her wealth, and her power. He changed the puritan community rather than being changed by it. “The red letter did not work in his office”, as the journalist remembers.

Many conservative readers of the novel are uncomfortable with the portrayal of her husband Roger Chillingworth as the villain in the novel as he tries to avenge himself on the man he slept with. misbehaving with his wife.

The idea of ​​revenge is raised, even if it’s a question of family honor and stealing a wife, it’s brave to take revenge, the argument goes. This idea does not take into account women’s freedom and choice. Chillingworth is a bad man because his wife is like his personal property and Dimmesdale has entered his property. More than attacking the religious position on sexuality, it is how Chillingworth feels about his estranged wife and her lover that is the issue under discussion.

Hawthorne created a character in Hester that was admired as a female heroine. Many characters are modeled after the story in Hester.

Qaisra Shahraz, a British novelist, modeled her 2007 novel “Typhoon” on the character of Hester.

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