Power Of Woman In Midnight’s Children By Salman Rushdie

1405 words - 6 pages

In Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children, women possess power within the sphere of their home and family, otherwise known as the domestic sphere (the private realm of domestic life, child-rearing, house-keeping, and religious education). Throughout the course of their lives, the possession of power changes as women’s role shift from childhood and adolescence to being a wife and mother. This possession of power manifests as their ability to control their decisions in life and the lives of those around them once they enter this domestic sphere. The process of change that turns Naseem Ghani into the Reverend Mother and Mumtaz into Amina demonstrate how women gain or lose power in the Indian ...view middle of the document...

This is also seen when Aadam commands Naseem to “forget about being a good Kashmiri girl” and to “start thinking like a modern Indian woman” (Rushdie 32). Instead of obeying her husband, she reverts to her traditional values and becomes the Reverend Mother, a powerful woman in her own household.
Reverend Mother takes a vow of silence and nearly starves her husband to death as an assertion of her power within her household. When Aadam commands the Reverend Mother to “be silent, woman” in an attempt to silence “her decent old-fashioned notions,” she makes an oath of silence to obey his exaggerated order (Rushdie 55-59). Her oath is a representation of her power over her own voice, her strict adherence to her religious morals, and the contempt for which she holds Aadam’s desire for a modern Indian life. Reverend Mother is determined to keep her oath as if she is attempting to regain the virtue that she lost in her union to Aadam. The startling “bombshell” that Mumtaz is still a virgin “after two years of marriage” to Nadir Khan forces Reverend Mother to question her daughter through verbal communication, thereby breaking her vow of silence (Rushdie 63). This shows that Reverend Mother holds power in the realm of piety and purity since it is the state of her daughter’s virginity that causes Reverend Mother to forsake her oath after nearly three years of silence. Piety and purity are two characteristics attributed to the ideal Victorian woman. As India moves towards independence from British rule, modern Indian society no longer covets them as desirable characteristics.
Amina Aziz gains power over her own life in Indian society through her status as a married woman and motherhood in her two marriages. As a single woman, Mumtaz is described as “good, dutiful” and “never brilliant” (Rushdie 57). Since she was born with a much darker skin complexion than her sisters, she was viewed as less desirable by men. Mumtaz’s power in her household was diminished due to her designation as the unattractive daughter and must seek elsewhere to gain control over her life in such a way that she would have the power to make her own decisions. Mumtaz’s first marriage depicts her acquisition of power in exchange for the sacrifice of her maternal desires.
Mumtaz Aziz leads a double life after her marriage to Nadir Khan where she pretends to be a chaste, single girl living with her parents by day and a married virgin living in the basement of her parents’ house by night where she has given up her dream of children in order to appease her husband. Nonetheless, the marriage in which she sacrifices her life’s dream of children was “the happiest time of her life” even though she was not in complete control of her dreams of motherhood (Rushdie 61). The two characteristics of secret virginity and marriage allowed Mumtaz to have familial respect from...

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