My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I will prefer it to call it a romance. Premchand's novel Gaban ("Embezzlement"), focusing on the middle class' greed is summarized as below:
The novel revolves around Ramaa, a young man of malleable moral values and his intrepid wife Jaalpa who seems outwardly flaky and greedy for gold ornaments but hides a much stronger core. Ramaa’s world is build on a mountain of lies and hubris. Jaalpa is young and restless and believes all the tall stories her handsome husband tells.Rama soon finds himself committing embezzlement(Gaban) to buy her ornaments which leads to a huge misunderstanding thanks to his cowardice. Gaban tells its story with impeccable empathy for all its characters.
The novel is a broad exploration of middle class hypocrisy and cowardice especially among men. Premchand paints in rich shades of grey unlike the bulk of the cinema of the time.By contrasting the relatively higher moral ground occupied by a low-caste character called Devideen, with Ramaa’s many weaknesses, he seems to be making a comment about the petit bourgeoisie of the time. This is also a novel about the inherent strength of women and how a faulty understanding of their psyche and considering them as mere objects, lead to the downfall of Indian society.
Jaalpa is the finest character of the novel and when she comes to know about the predicament of her husbands, she sells her ornaments and pays the money. Jaalpa's character is an ode to unfaltering devotion of Indian women is towards their Husbands. Pati parmeshwar i.e husband is god.
A very enjoyable and satisfactory read.
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