Art of Characterisation in Mulk Raj Anand Novels

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      Anand has given new horizons to the art of characterisation. He not only extended its frontiers rather introducing new characters with new subject. In this context M.K. Nayak writes, “The novels and short stories of Anand present a fictional world peopled by a striking variety of characters, covering a wide area of Indian social and political scene, over a period of more than thirty years. Among the Indian novelists in English, it is perhaps Anand who gives us the most comprehensive picture of the Englishman in India during the colonial times. His British characters reveal great variety of types. First, there is, the Pucka Sahib, as Reggie Hunt and Charles-Croft Cook in Two Leaves and a Bud and Colonel Potinger in the story “Babu Bulaki Ram”. The opposite type is the Liberal Briton, a rebel against the cult of the white man’s burden. This type is ably presented by Dr. John de la-Harve in Two Leaves and a Bud; the kindly Captain Owen who figures in both The. Village and Across the Black Waters; and Captain Terence O’ Sullivan in Morning Face, who tells Krishnan, “With the Irish part of me I have been fighting the English part.” In between these two extremes stands the well-meaning Englishman, still unable to establish a rapport with the colonial Indian, owing to mists of misunderstanding. Mr. England in Coolie is a fine example of this, and it will be recalled that his visit to Babu Nathoo Ram’s is a saga of disastrous misunderstanding on the part of both the guests and the host. To complete the picture, we also meet the eccentric Englishman in Anand’s pages. Deputy Commissioner Sir Hercules Long in The Village, writing, “interminable treatises full of wise sayings for the edification of illiterate villagers” and dodging over-inquisitive buffaloes, is a fine example; and so is the “Bola or deaf sahib”, Captain Cunningham in Seven Summers, who, “the other Sahibs mad.”

      Anand’s writing is a blend of all kind of people. They are united with a subject and a common objective. A humble mention of types and kinds of people requires several lines. His writings encompass a vast range of human characters, from the opulent to the destitutes, from white-skinned English gentlemen to black and ugly and repulsive untouchable. We come across varieties of characters when we go through Anand’s pages; nawabs, landlords, the army, soldiers, policemen, lawyers, politicians, revolutionaries, priests, teachers, merchants, contractors, money-lenders, clerks, factory workers, coolies, sweepers, washerman, cobblers, barbers, fruit vendors and coppersmiths, all together and individually evolve and make their presence quite perceptible.

      In his fictional world, Anand has depicted various classes of women. They range from the rustic to the well mannered society lady. He presents a beggar maid in such a way that she wins our sympathy and the Maharani looks awful. There are a number of images which inspire humanitarian compassion in us. The most admirable and everlasting characters are those which personify humanitarian values. Bakha and Ananta among his male characters and Gauri and Paravati among his female characters are perhaps his most powerful characters.

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