Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Dickens and the Gulagis

Hello and welcome to the first of my two posts addressing general themes in literature. A Tale of Two Cities is a book about Revolution--revenge, resentment, and the ways that people obtain greater freedom. However, unlike some other books about the French Revolution, Dickens is not entirely on board with the idea. The bloodshed and openly, consistently sought revenge of the revolution is questioned and contrasted with Charles Darnay, the innocent victim caught up in danger because of his birth. This theme is very relevant to the modern world, especially as reflected in many of the social movements and revolutions occurring across the planet. To what extent, if any, is violence an acceptable way of procuring increased rights? When does the end justify the means? Luckily, one of the contemporary movements is especially relevant to my blog theme. That is, the fight for women's rights in India. The culture of India, in great part, is still very patriarchal, and a great example of resistance against the low status of women in India is the famed Gulabi Gang. (If you do not know about them, please refer to this article.) Using violence on many occasions, though arguably only when provoked (as were the French revolutionaries), these women combat domestic violence and other forms of abuse against women by threats, warnings, and even violence if need be. Working outside the law, their tactics are perhaps not as drastic or overwhemingly culture-changing as the revolutionaries' of France, but they bring up the same concerns. Is their violence acceptable because it helps liberate women from tyrrany, or should they perhaps work within the law for reform like many other activists in India are doing? Dickens would perhaps consider this with some confusion, as he considers revolution with a sympathy for revolutionaries and slow reformers alike in Tale of Two Cities. I cannot say for myself what the answer to this question is. However, looking at the novel and the women of the Gulagi Gang, the struggle between violent and nonviolent social change is still an issue concerning humanity in the twenty-first century.

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