Bibi Uttam Kaur: Character Analysis in The Novel Coolie

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      Bibi Uttam Kaur is the wife of Babu Nathoo Ram. She is a very shrewish kind of wife who always controls her husband, Babu Nathoo Ram. She is one of the exploiters of Munoo who was her domestic servant. She always took him to task for his mistakes, and abuses and curses him equally whenever she gets any chance. She is a figure of evil. Her character is made up of all wicked qualities. She is a dominating wife and her husband is always at her beck and call. She is a stern woman full of cruelty and snobbishness, and it is seen in her treatment of her servant. She is conscious of her family prestige. She has a great feeling of superiority therefore, she does not allow Munoo to play with her children or talk to Babus. She always says to Munoo that his position is in the kitchen, and she does not allow him to touch the utensils unless he keeps his hands clean. She herself does not follow the principles of hygiene and asks the boy not to look at what she does. Therefore, she is also a hypocrite. Though she belongs to a middle-class rural family she poses to be upper-class woman.

      In her ill-temperament, we do not find any sense of humour. She is held responsible for humiliating and making Munoo’s life worse than death. She does not have any humanitarian values. She is a true representative of a shrewish woman who ill-treats her servants excessively and does not have any mercy or sympathy for them.

      Bibiji is an admirable caricature of a formant who uses her abuse cleverly without holding her tongue. At one place we come to know “her voice rose from the first shock of unpleasantness through the faint hiss of anger of the mechanical volubility of her curses and mounted to a last note of real despair. Munoo felt blood rushing to his face.” Her personality is revealed in her first appearance in the novel. Then a chic lifted behind a side door and a woman appeared. She had a dark face, mobile and without any set form, except that which the tired smile on her thin lips gave it, and sharp nose over which her brown eyes concentrated in a squint, and her forehead inclined, with wrinkles. Her stern, flat-chested form was swathed in a muslin sari.

      Bibi Uttam Kaur has also some good traits in her personality. She is not only a messiah of wickedness but also has some few traits of humanity. “Leave him now, the ungrateful wretch”, said Bibiji, when Babu was beating him cruelly. This is return of the feminine nature in her. She is also taking proper care to maintain morality and discipline in her house which is the best characteristic of an Indian house wife. She does not want her children to get mixed with the servant only because she wanted her children to be well-behaved and disciplined. She has sympathy for Munoo when he has been beaten by Verma and the other boy servants.

      Thus she is a true Hindu ideal of womanhood, made up of all good qualities and shortcomings and has been generalized by Margaret Berry thus: “The average Hindu woman, as Anand portrays her, does not develop freely as an autonomous human being with a unique fund of human creativity. However honored her role as mother and wife, she is depicted, apart from these functions, as a subordinate to be controlled and used for male comfort and advantage. Bound by innumerable customs and taboos, she is strictly subject to men in the disposition of her life and talent.” This is the character of Bibiji despite the fact that she over-rules her husband.

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