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Conflict between Aspirations and Reality: A Study of Bharati Mukherjee’s Wife

 


Conflict between Aspirations and Reality: A Study of Bharati Mukherjee’s Wife

Dr. Satrughna Singh

Associate Professor

Department of English

Raiganj University

West Bengal, India

 

 

Abstract:

This paper deals with the novel called Wife written by Bharti Mukherjee and the major concern here is the difference between expectations and reality. The present novel revolves around the major character called Dimple Das Gupta who is an ambitious girl and what happens with her is the major concern of the novel. The major themes of this novel are ambition, sexual mind-set, expectations vs. reality, pressure of the expatriate life and mental disorder that has been resulted from the over expectation. The style of the novel is simple yet lucid and it was it has the power to bind the readers. The way novelist has described the characters and the situation is quite extra-ordinary. The novelist has also discussed the problems of the contemporary women and their suffering in this patriarchal society still the females characters are courageous enough to take the risk and also to counter them. Thus, the novel is a wonderful piece that explorers the contemporary society at its best.

Keywords: Ambition; Expectation; Marriage; Reality; Society

Wife is the second novel of Bharati Mukherjee that is written in 1975. This novel, like many of her novels, deals with the expatriate life in a foreign land and has the theme of difficulty in marriage because of the expectations which are unfulfilled. The present novel revolves around the major character called Dimple Das Gupta who is an ambitious girl and who has the desire to go to abroad in order to live luxurious life as a wife of a rich man and to be involved in an altogether different culture which is more free and more glorious than India. However, she has a phobic personality and the reader can certainly find the imbalance between her mind and body. She expects so many things from life but life offers her some strange things and therefore, she is torn in her life. Thus, let’s try to find what life offers to her and how her entire life changes through the novel. Thus, the contemporary situation has been expressed beautifully by the novelist in this novel.

From the very start of the novel, Dimple is quite obsessed with the idea of marriage. She expects a lot from marriage. She believes that “marriage can bring you everything.” However, her aspiration and the imagination of an ideal husband is quite different from that of the concept and ideas of her father who looks for an engineer whereas Dimple wants to get married to a Surgeon. However, because of middle class background and dreams of luxury, fashion and fantasy she can marry anyone. Her father has some other plans. In the very beginning of the novel, the character of Dimple is expressed by the novelist,

Dimple Das Gupta had set her heart on marrying a neurosurgeon, but her father was looking for engineers in matrimonial ads… She fantasised about young man with moustaches, dressed in spotless white, peering into open skulls. Marriage would bring her freedom, Cocktail parties on carpeted lawns, fund-raising dinners for Nobel Charities. Marriage would bring her love. (Wife, 3)

However, it can be noticed that Dimple has been an ugly girl as she herself thinks so. She is not happy with her physical appearance and that is the reason why she hates everyone around her. Her body and her physical appearance have made a lot of negative impact on her mind and she continues to have mental disturbance. She has been troubled all through her childhood and has mental disorders. Her idea of the family relationship begins to be distorted and that is the reason why she does not like people as the novelist says,

She hated the family album, hated all those stiff, tiny rectangular moments from the past yellowing in the Corners where father's thumb had glued them decisively to the page. (Wife, 13)

However, she finally gets married to an engineer as she goes to the USA with her husband but before that she has to face a lot of trouble. Dimple is a girl who regularly reads fashion magazines and the idea of voluptuous breasts comes from those fancy magazines into her mind as she wants to be very much fashionable, sexy and attractive. However, the mother is a kind of conventional women who believes that one must be satisfied with what is given to him/her by the destiny. However, Dimple does not believe in all such things and remains in dark, away from everyone. She often thinks of death as she does not like her life. However, the novel is specifically about the sexual fantasies of this girl. Meanwhile, her father has been successful in finding an engineer who has already applied for the immigration to the USA and Canada. For the further, Amit would be an ideal match for the daughter. Thus, he conveys this to Dimple who eventually accepts it in the belief that marriage will bring happiness in her otherwise distorted life. Thus, she marries to Amit Basu. Her mother-in-law Mrs. Basu is a conventional woman and she does not like Dimple Das Gupta as Dimple always fantasises about a perfect man from various advertisements. Dimple is a kind of woman with modern mindset and therefore, she does not want pregnancy soon after marriage as it may harm her plan to go to abroad. She does not want a life of family worries and she always wants to be free from such troubles. The birth of a child would not be ideal for her plans.

Soon both of them go to abroad and she is very happy and full of fantasies of the luxurious life she will lead in the USA. She is also quite eager to meet the people of the USA. She tries to Americanise herself by drinking beer and attending parties. She also watches TV serials and shows that show the scenes of rape, sex, and violence. However, slowly she develops dislike for Amit for his crudeness. She suffers from insomnia. Meanwhile, she develops friendship with Ina Mullick and Milt Glasser. Soon she suffers from the psychological disorder again as she becomes more and more psychic. She hates life and think of different way of dying. She continuously thinks of dying. Dimple enters into the really amazing imaginative world and her mental strain has been huge. She is under amazing pressure as she cannot even tell her real situation to Amit, her husband as the novelist says,

She did not tell him about the imaginary beginnings. She did not tell him about the immoderate daytime sleeping either. They were unspeakable failings. She had expected pain when she had come to America, had told herself that pain was part of any new beginning… (Wife, 115)

She even thinks of killing Amit and fantasises about hiding his body in the freezer. The exotic way of murdering her husband makes her quite excited. However, here we can certainly say that Dimple mixes the imaginary scenes of the TV serial with the real life situation. Thus, she is the one who lives in the world of imagination. Her character has been affected from the split personality and has been suffering from neurosis, schizophrenia and death instinct. The major themes of this novel are ambition, sexual mind-set, expectations vs. reality, pressure of the expatriate life and mental disorder that has been resulted from the over expectation.

This novel has been written by having the deeper layers of the concerns which are based on existentialism. Dimple desire to have a pessimistic life in the American Society but soon discovers that she is not fit for that kind of society because of her physical appearance as well as fantasies. However, it disturbs her. It is seen that more liberty she takes, the deeper she plunges into abyss of despair and depression. However, the way this cycle of expatriate has moved, makes a disturbing impact on her as she finally wants to collapse. All these things prove to be lethal as she loses the control of her mind. She imagines things which are unbelievable. The novel is set in two countries, India and USA. The style of the novel is simple yet lucid and it has the power to bind the readers. The way novelist has described the characters and the situation is quite extra-ordinary. The dialogues are realistic and can be specimen of the contemporary society. Thus, the novel is a wonderful piece that explorers the contemporary society at its best.

Works Cited

Mukherjee, Bharati. Wife. Houghton Mifflin, 1975.

 

ChoudhuryEnakshi, “Images of Women in Bharati Mukherjee's Novels,” edited by Anand T.S. Literary Voice. 2 oct.1995, Ludhiana: Academic Association Trust. 81-87.