The term 'feminism' has its origin from the Latin word lemina' meaning 'woman'. It refers to the advocacy of women's rights, status and power at par with men on the grounds of 'equality of sexes'. In other words, it relates to the belief that women should have the same social, economic and political rights as men. The term became popular from the early twentieth century struggles for securing women's suffrage or voting rights in the western countries, and the later well-organized socio-political movement for women's emancipation from patriarchal oppression.
The feminist ideologies began to influence the English literature in India. In the 20th century, women’s writing was considered as a powerful medium of modernism and feminist statements. The majority of the novels depicts the psychological suffering of the frustrated housewife and oppressed lives of women of the lower classes. Feminism has been used by the women novelists. Their novels reflect that the present age women have realized that she is not helpless and is not dependent. They feel that woman is equal to man. Nowadays, woman has become a money earner and she is not confined only to household works. Indian women writers explore the feminine subjectivity and apply the theme that ranges from childhood to womanhood. Through their novels, they told what actually feminism is. These women writers told that feminism means putting an end to all the sufferings of a woman in silence.
Indian women writers have given a new dimension to the Indian literature. Indian English Literature has developed over a period of time and writing in English did not start in a day. It took many years to bring the present status. We can find Indian literature as novels and also in the forms of poetries and short stories. Several women writers composed songs and short stories before the rise of novels. It is believed that women are the upholders of the Indian tradition of fables. In the middle of 19th century, more women started to write in English language. In this period, more women actively participated in India’s reformist movement against the British rule. This led to the women’s literature. At that time, their writings mainly concentrated on the country’s freedom struggle.
Indian English writing started with authors like Sarojini Naidu. This great poetess charmed the readers with her writings. Feminism themes have used by writers like NayantaraSahgal and Rama Mehta. Regional fiction theme has also been used by Kamala Das, Anita Nair and Susan Viswanathan. Novelists like Kamala Markandaya and Anita Desai visualized the spirit of Indian cultures and its traditional values. Many Indian women writers made India as a popular literary nation in 1990. The Indian women novelists like Bharati Mukherjee, NergisDalal, Krishna Sobti, Dina Mehta, Indira Goswami, MalatiChendur, GauriDeshpande, NamitaGokhale, Ruth Jhabvala, Shobha De, Arundhati Roy, JhumpaLahiri used realism as main theme of their novels. Most of the...