Women empowerment is the most discussed topic in post modern India. Different opinions are coming from almost all over the world for restoring the need for women empowerment. This is one of the reasons that today we are going to discuss women characters in the novels of Mulk Raj Anand. He is a kind of novelist who has given certain space to his women characters in his novels. Scholars and critics have also remarked that the novels of Mulk Raj Anand are reformatory and exploratory in nature. We may say that Mr.Anand has given much space to his male characters but we cannot deny that there is genuine exploration of Indian women characters in his novels. In his personal life Anand had bitter experiences from women characters around his life but he has never tried to devaluate them because he was the man who understood that women are equal to men. According to Dr. Krishna Nandan Sinha-

“The most absorbing single image in Anand is the opulent richness of a woman’s body. He is like Rubens or Goya, expressing the tremors and raptures of flesh.”1

There are certain evoking pictures of women in the novels of Mulk Raj Anand but he never tries to have any prejudiced opinion against them. It is needless to say that Dr. Anand is a humanist-realist and thus there are certain elements of realism in his novels. This kind of realism is far away from idealism. Thus, we may say that the idealistic picture of women is missing in his novels. It is noteworthy to find that most of the women characters in the novels of Mulk Raj Anand belong to lower strata of the society. We can hardly find any aristocratic women in his writings. Mythical women like Gargi, Draupadi, Maitrayee or Damyanti can also be not found in his writings. Thus, we may say that there are real life characters in the novels of Dr. Anand. Scholars and critics have also remarked that homogenous women characters are missing in the novels of Dr. Anand. His characters are the admixture of varieties. There are various women characters in Untouchable which got published in 1935. Contrasting women characters like Sohini,the sister of Bakha and Gulabo add a sense of realism in the novel. She is a good hearted girl and she renders her services to her old diseased father, Lakha and brothers Bakha and Rakha. Her language is not sophisticated because she is not educated but still we may say that she is a virtuous girl in comparison to the termagant shrew, Gulabo. There is no comparison between Sohini and Gulabo because the latter is an evil tongued coquette who displays her feminine charms to trap the rich. The novelist has tried to highlight the beauty of Sohini exposed through her poor dress-

“she had a sylph-like form; not thin but full bodied within the limits of her graceful frame well rounded on the hips with an arched narrow, waist from which descended, the folds of her salwars and above which were her full, round, globular breasts jerking slightly for lack of bodice under her transparent muslin shirt.”2

Pandit Kalinath is a lust man and his intentions are fired after seeing the beauty and grace of Sohini. He wants to seduce her and for this he uses his caste grandeurs. He commands her to sweep his house so that he can fulfill his dark desire. It is noteworthy to find that the psyche of Bakha is contaminated and his views regarding his sister Sohini is Lawrentian in approach-

“ He looked at her and somehow a picture of her future life seemed to come before him. She had a husband- a man who had her, possessed her. He loathed the ghost of her would be husband that he conjured up. He could see the stranger holding her full breasts and responding with a modest acquiescence. He hated the thought of that man touching her. He felt he would be losing something. He dared not think what he would be losing. He dared not think that he himself-‘I am her brother’, he said to himself, to rectify his thoughts which seemed to be going wrong”3

The above sentences clearly shatter the pious relationship between a brother and a sister in Indian society. It means that Bakha is obsessed with the body of his own sister. In Duchess of Malfi written by Webster we can find this obsession with Ferdinand. He was also obsessed with the body of his own sister who was the duchess of Malfi. On the other hand Gulabo felt jealous with Sohini. This is one of the reasons that she says to her-

“Ari bitch! Do you take me for a buffon? What are you laughing at slut? Aren’t you ashamed of showing your teeth to me in the presence of man, prostitute.”4

Later in the market Bakha talks to few women for bread. He gets polite response from one of those women but another curses and abuses him. She says-

“Vay eater of your master’s she shouted. May the vessel of your life never float in the sea of existence. May you perish and die! You have defiled my house. Go! Get up, get up! Eater of your master! Why didn’t you shout if you wanted food? Is this your father’s house that you come and rest here?5

 This is the same lady who prowls at the feet of a sage who chants cunningly ‘Bholenath’ every now and then. Bakha is mistreated by this lady even if he does some work for her. Ram Charan’s sister is another girl in this play who used to play with Bakha in her childhood. She looked ugly when she was a child but as a grown up girl she was beautiful and Bakha seduces her in his thoughts-

“ He had pictured her quite naked as he had seen his mother quite often when he was a child, and his sister and other little children. An impulse had arisen like a sudden tremor to his brain and darkened his thoughts. He had felt as if he could forcibly gather the girl in his embrace and ravish her.”6

In 1936 Coolie was published and in this novel also there are varieties of women characters. Characters like Gujri who is Munoo’s aunt, Bibiji, lady Todarmal are ill tongued. Parvati who is Prabha’s wife treats Munoo as her own son. Lakshmi, who is the wife of Hari also loves Munoo and satisfies her own sexual urge-

“And she lay down by his side and took him in her arms, pressing him to her bosom with a silent warmth which made him ache with the hurt of her physical nearness, which tortured him, harassed him, making him writhe with all the pent up fury of his adolescent passion, till in the magic hours of dawn it found an escape in death, in the temporary death of his body in her’s.”7

In the character sketch of Lakshmi the novelist has tried to depict false morality in some lower class women. In this novel there is also a Eurasian lady whose name is Mrs. Manwaring. She has sexual relationship with many men and she also has a soft corner for Munoo. To her he was the fittest man to satisfy her but she could not trap him because death trapped him very early. In Two Leaves and A Bud there are few interesting women characters. Sajani and Leila are the central women characters in this novel. Barbara neglects the love of Dr. De La Harve because she thinks that he cannot be an ideal husband and there are several problems in becoming his wife. The wife of Neogi symbolically stands for the exploited coolie women in the novel. Reggie uses her mercilessly and it has been described by the novelist in the following lines-

“And he squeezed her between the iron girders of his thighs, the solid blocks of his shoulders till the pyramid of his passions was contiguous to her parting. ‘ooi’ she cried, pain- marred, and afraid of being mutilated, don’t wriggle and writhe like that he whispered, tearing at the string of her trousers and throwing her down at the charpai where she had lain. She yielded to him, her body limp and contorted into a silent despair, her eyes agaze. At the wild sensual heat in his face, her heart, turned inward at the cold virginity that seemed to freeze her at the contact with him. He made a sudden upcharge as if he were dealing a deathblow to himself and to her and he swung her body hard, hard harder, tearing the flesh of her breasts, biting her cheeks and striking her buttocks till she was red and purple like a mangled corpse, ossified into a complete obedience by the volcanic eruption of his lust.”8

It is the height of exploitation which is pitiable. In India women are regarded as Devi or goddess but in reality they are exploited by men like Reggie Hunt. Dr. Anand has tried to project his characters as they are. Thus, we can say that there is certain sense of realism in his writings. Even today we cannot deny totally that women are exploited in their offices.


  1. Sinha, Krishna Nandan, “Mulk Raj Anand”, New York, 1972,p.113
  2. Anand, Mulk Raj, “Untouchable”, New Delhi,1984,p.26
  3. Ibid,p.72-73
  4. Ibid,p.29
  5. Ibid,p.80
  6. Ibid,p.99
  7. Anand, Mulk Raj, “Coolie”, New Delhi, 1984,p.139
  8. Anand, Mulk Raj, “Two Leaves and a Bud”, New York, 1958, p.185-86