“The Widow and the Wife”: Debating the ‘Woman Question’ in Muthumeenakshi (1903)

Meenu B.

University of Hyderabad. ORCID: E-mail:

  Volume 9, Number 2, 2017 I Full Text PDF

DOI: 10.21659/rupkatha.v9n2.26

Received March 1, 2017; Revised June 11, 2017; Accepted July 20, 2017; Published August 11, 2017.


In this article, I look at the radical Tamil reformist novel, A. Madhaviah’s Muthumeenakshi published in 1903. This novel which dealt with common reformist issues of the time such as widow-remarriage and female education still struck a more radical note from the other reformist novels of the day in its support of the re-marriage of the widow who was not a virgin. In this paper, my attempt is to situate Muthumeenakshi amongst the other social reformist novels of the day and trace where the novel conformed to and departed from the other reformist novels. Through this, I plan to complicate the commonly held assumptions about social reform by bringing out the contradictions within the reformist project as well as explore the variety of positions within it and trace the aftermath of the reformist debates in India’s later history, especially in the nationalist discourse.

Keywords: Social Reform, Early Indian Novels, Tamil Novel, Woman Question, Widow Re-marriage, Female Education.

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