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Scholarly Article

Debabrata Karmakar

A Comparative Study of Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay and Rabindranath Tagore’s Representation of Dalit Women through Their Selected Texts


Dalit women, representation, Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay, Rabindranath
Tagore, Bengal renaissance


Dalits in India live at the margin of Indian society which is both patriarchal and caste-biased. Dalits are socially oppressed, economically deprived and culturally castigated. The upper caste people imposed upon the Dalits the stigma of untouchability in order to produce and reproduce the production of labours from the ancient time by corroborating different Hindu texts and scriptures. In this patriarchal society, Dalit women are the most oppressed, because they are not only economically and sexually exploited by the upper-caste people but also by the men of their own castes, even by the male members of their own family.

     In the colonial period, with the advent of western education some great scholars and social reformers of Bengal like Raja Rammohan Roy and Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar took an initiative in creative writing of Bengali literature imbued by the spirit of Renaissance and Nationalism. Renaissance which is intellectual, social, cultural and artistic movement in Bengal started with Raja Rammohan Roy, Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay and other intelligentsia in the later half of nineteenth century and ends with Rabindranath Tagore in the first half of twentieth century. This paper will seek how Dalit women are represented in the novels of Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay like Indira, Durgesh Nandini, Devi Chaudharani and so on, and Rabindranath Tagore’s dance-drama Chandalika and short story “Shasti” (“Punishment”), and point out their attitudes to Dalit women portrayed in that representation, though both Bankim Chandra and Rabindranath belonged to the same period of Bengal renaissance.

About the Author

Debabrata Karmakar is a PhD Research Scholar at Department of English, Seacom Skills University, Birbhum, West Bengal. He may be contacted at

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