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Charitraheen

by Sharat Chandra Chatopadhyay

The novel is set in Bengali society of the early 1900's and has four main women characters, two are the ones on whom the accusation of being charitraheen (of loose character) is made. Kiranmayi is the most striking character of the novel. Young and extremely beautiful, very intelligent and argumentative. She surprises and impresses all the three main men in the novel - Satish, Upendra and Diwakar - but her life is ultimately reduced to a shambles by these unthinking men. The three men play very important roles in the lives of the four women, but most of the time, their actions are detrimental to the women. They are orthodox, unthinking, and not in control of their emotions. There is a redemption of all the women in the end but wrong done to the women cannot be righted just like that, even if the women themselves feel so.The depiction of orthodox Hindu society in conflict with Western thoughts brought in by British rule is good. The character sketches are the best part, and their emotions, swinging from one end of the spectrum to the other, make for thoughtful reading.

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