Power of Woman in Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie

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In Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children, women possess power within the sphere of their home and family, otherwise known as the domestic sphere (the private realm of domestic life, child-rearing, house-keeping, and religious education). Throughout the course of their lives, the possession of power changes as women’s role shift from childhood and adolescence to being a wife and mother. This possession of power manifests as their ability to control their decisions in life and the lives of those around them once they enter this domestic sphere. The process of change that turns Naseem Ghani into the Reverend Mother and Mumtaz into Amina demonstrate how women gain or lose power in the Indian society that Rushdie depicts. Before her marriage to Aadam Aziz, Naseem Ghani was a young woman who is owned by her father and has little or no power in her childhood home due to being viewed as object to be traded as a wife in exchange for a dowry. Naseem is seen one part at a time through a hole in a sheet held by three female bodyguards. This objectification of Naseem by Aadam Aziz reveals that she is viewed by the sum of her parts instead of as a complete person. Aziz’s perception of Naseem is “a badly-fitting collage of her severally-inspected parts" which he glues together with his "imagination" (Rushdie 22). By introducing her under the patriarchal male gaze, Rushdie reveals how little power she has as an unwed woman in her father’s household.
Once Naseem Ghani becomes the married Naseem Aziz, she is no longer objectified by her body, and the amplification of her power is shown through her ability to control her situation in life to a greater degree. When Aadam Aziz requests that Naseem “moves a little” on their second night together, she ...

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...es based on their desires instead of the desires of their male counterparts. As the women age, they take on new names to represent their physical and emotional changes. Naseem gains power as a married woman and becomes Reverend Mother while Mumtaz acquires power through the realization of her reproductive abilities. These women have varying degrees of power over their lives but it is limited to the value Indian society places on the domestic sphere and the importance of a woman’s place in this sphere. A married woman will garner more respect and have more of a voice than an unwed daughter living within her father’s household, while motherhood is regarded as one of the most important roles for a woman and given special considerations. Rushdie portrays ascension to power within the realm of the home and family by to show how power is passed between social boundaries.

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