Essay: Feminism and ‘Burnt Shadows’ by Kamaila Shamsie

Introduction
This chapter consists of brief and critical introduction to the study, and firstly it introduces the novelist, secondly, the brief background of the study, major characters, plot and themes of novel.
1.1 Introduction to Burnt Shadows Novel
Kamaila Shamsie, one of the well known literary figures of present time is very much famous for the production of great literary pieces. She wrote a number of novels .Her novels are vastly read and praised for their excellence and theme, her novels mostly depicts and presents themes related to the civilization, culture and history of her mother land and sub-continent on whole .she is found mostly talking about theme of love and war. Burnt Shadows is one of her best literary creations which is completely authentic, complex, breath-stopping was published on 10 October 2009.This is a historical novel consists of three parts presenting different time spans and different settings talking about the stories of two families .The whole story revolve around a Japanese young protagonist Hireko Tania who lives in Nagasaki quite happily along with her family. Her happiness is doubled with the deep love affair between her and her German fianc?? Konrad weiss with whom she is going to get married very soon .August 9,1945 was a very unlucky morning for her as Atom Bomb was thrown on her mother land Nagasaki Which brought destructions, deaths, tears,sepration and disasters and it took away every near person and dear things from her .It snatches away her all joys and gifts her tears and irremovable loss. Hiroko is now the one of the survivors of Nagasaki bombing which left three crane shaped spot on her back, is now left with only one choice to forget everything and give a new beginning to her life .She does so but her misries seems infinite she keeps on changing homes, cities and countries in the search her identity and place but her untiring journey starts from Nagasaki and ends at New York, with her oldhooh.
Chapter 2
Literature Review
2.1: What is Feminism?
Feminism is a theory or set of beliefs that aims at establishing women equality with men on political, social and economical as well as moral and ethical ground. The terms “feminism” and “feminist” become very much common and well known after 1970s, Katherine Hepburn believes that feminism was started in 1942.During these years so many other movements also came into being which mostly focused the rights of human .Feminism asserts to form and build equality among men and women in every platform and every walk of life. It struggles to give justice to women who are living under the dominance of male and are considered as inferior sex .They must not be dealt in this way male and female are naturally equal ,so to consider them inferior is a injustice. To solve all these problems of women and provide them equality in every aspect and every walk of life feministic concepts are established.

2.2: Three waves of feminism
Feminism has been divided into three categories by some feminist and great literary figures, the famous three waves of feminism are: 1. First Wave (1848 to 1920) 2. Second Wave (1960 to 1980) 3. Third wave (1990 to continued) Feminism has a long history as its history tells us that this movement took a huge span of time to become famous and earn name and place in literature. Generally it is believed that it went through major stages which are now a day’s known as THREE WAVES OF FEMINISM based on slight differences in believes related to the rights of woman in society. In early time women were considered as inferior in every field .they had no right to vote or to take any decision .they were not given any share from property and rather treated as inferior and less important human creature. Those uncountable and unavoidable problems give birth to Feminism. Rebbeca, Chafetz and Dwarkin, and Pateman were famous feminist of that era they jointly divided feminism in three stages and named such change as THREE WAVES OF FEMINISM.

First-wave feminism: This movement started from 1848 and ended till 1920.Followers of this movement believed that women must be given equality ,they have their own existence so they must be treated equal living being .They should be given place, status and equality.
Second- wave feminism: This movement started from early 1960 and ended to late 1980.It was wider in its scope than the previous one .It generated a set of believes that equality is basic right of women but the need more than it. In all walks of life and in every aspect they must be given their own place and name.
Third wave feminism :it was launched on 1990 and its is still being accepted and practiced .It was more general in its scope than the previous one. It also talked about the rights of middle class women as well. This movement was not only about the rights of upper class women but it also talked about the basic rights of women of middle class in various areas and various societies It generally believed that women are born equal to men so they must be treated not just as equal in means of existence but they must be allowed to make their own identity and they must be left free to make their own name in this society.

2.3 Post-colonial Feminism
English literature has been raised and praised worldwide through out many decades .During late 19th century post colonial literature started to be produced .It soon earned a lot of name .Post colonial literature talked about universal themes like war, love etc. Among these themes feminism also got highlighting place in many mater pieces of post colonial literature. Post colonialist have tried to keep on highlighting these themes further in their future writings .Post colonial feminism, like western feminism talks about women sufferings, miseries of women belonging to various backgrounds and races. They have made efforts to change the westernized concept of feminism, as we see Bapsi Sidhwa says in one of her interview says that women are no more lesser & unimportant so they should not be treated as useless and valueless ,due to such reasons the image of Pakistan is not good and she is considered as fundamentalist but now not only the men but women are also playing their role to form and build a new and better image of Pakistan in the eyes of Europe in particular and the world in general. This is how she has been playing a vital role as strong believer and preacher of feminism in current times. Her concept varies little bit from the westernized concept of feminism .As we see it believes that women is a universal group they possess the right of social equality and gender justice must be done .Such concepts are similar to third world feminism which originates from equal internal ideologies and socio cultural aspects .Post colonial feminism varies little bit from the some bold and key features of modern feminism .Comparatively the women of Pakistan in general and sub-continent in particular is in more worst and, subjugate condition in comparison of the women of the well developed countries .But they are not lagging behind in terms of having less abilities rather they have been provided with least opportunities ,postcolonial is junction of Such views on the whole .
2.4: Kamila Shamise as Feminist Writer
Literature is no doubt a reflection of what we have in our mind and in our surroundings & society .A writer is possibly believed as the presenter and painter of all the happenings, customs, cultures, history and civilization of any society to which he or she belongs. In Pakistan the number of well known Pakistani female writers is countable on finger tips, but among the content of those names we do find the name of Kamila Shamise. Kamaila shamise is a well known Pakistani novelist with a vast literary background. No doubt she is professional writer who got huge encouragement from her family. Her writings have presented a very positive image of Pakistani women
She has written so many books like salt and saffron, Broken Verses where women are given an important role, mostly being protagonist of Shamsie’s novels. Kamila shamise is no doubt very much well versed at the art of characterization and this is just because of her keen observation of the women of her society .
Her women are presented with entire new look .Her ladies are very much active and energetic. As we see in Burnt shadows Hiroko is found as very strong lady with plenty of positivity and huge boldness .She faces every hardship with the same strength and courage , at no place she is found ready to give up. In this way Kamila shamise has proved her excellence as a genius feminist writer.
2.5 Feministic Perspective in Burnt Shadows
Burnt shadows are excellently written by Kamila Shamise. She depicts an unmatchable panoramic vision of later half of 20th century .The story begins with the horrifying picture of atomic bomb dropping in Nagasaki and its worst impacts and damage on the protagonist character of this novel .No doubt Kamaila shamise is an outstanding writer, she earned lot of fame especially for writing worth reading novels .In the same way Burnt Shadows bears excellence. Munro’s characters are very much realistic and original .In comparison to her male characters her female characters are more active and worth appreciating .In Burnt shadows women characters are presented as very much progressive adapetative and realistic .Her females are more strong and they bears very strong moral and ethical characters and emotional strength than the male characters of the novel. The female characters are presented and painted in such a way that it remains quite easy for any reader to believe on them that these type of women characters can really exist in real life. The Novel Burnt Shadows is a story about its major character Hiroko Tania .Her character is very much original and real enough to believe in .Her character is flexible and who always believe in keep on moving ahead, this s because of her positivity that despite of the occurrence of huge tragic incident like the dropping of atomic bomb and facing the disaster caused by it digesting the worst damage gifted by it .But she gives her life another chance that she moves to India and accepts Sajjid’s love and marries him but her sufferings seems un end able as she has to leave Delhi coz of chaos and anarchy caused by Pak-India partition, later she loses her son Raza and moves to New York .If we see and analyze the character of Elizabeth ,her character is also realistic which symbolically represents all the women victim in the male dominated society. She is a common wife living under the complete dominance and working under the finger tips of her husband James Burton. She is very much sad and gloomy deep inside but even though she fulfills all the due duties & responsibilities of a wife very well. She never demands or complaint for equality rather always tries to present herself a happy aristocratic modern wife. Chapter 3 3.1 Research Question Q1: Kamila Shamise an eminent female Pakistani writer has depicted some secondary female characters as inactive feminist .Justify? Q2: How much it is true that, Kamila Shamise has presented two sides of one coin by presenting some of women character as less or anti-feminist ‘like Elizabeth Burton and some as active feminist like Hiroko?
Justification to the study:
Active Feminist VS Anti-Feminist
Kamila shamise has presented the image of women very positive clear, conclusive confident, decisive, specific & affirmative .In her writings women is always given an important role, especial place. A burnt shadow is very much feminist texts which explore the feminine psyche of the women characters. Hiroko, who is the protagonist character & her very psyche, is depicted very well by the novelist throughout the novel. Though she faces number of tragedies throughout her life but even then she remains positive and optimist No where she is observed as spreading negativity .As a individual she is a strong character and firm believer of Feminism. She at no cost considers herself inferior in terms of sex or gender .neither she wants other women to consider their self as low or less important creature. On other hand, Elizabeth Burton who is apparently introduced as modern aristocrat wife living quite happily with her husband but actually its wise versa .She acts to look happy under the dominance of her conservative and narrow-minded husband But in reality she remains unhappy and gloomy deep inside .she curse her such condition inside her heart but never dares rather never wants to share her problems with other not even Hiroko. But when Hiroko with her intelligence notice it she tries to convince Elizabeth being an active Feminist but she rejects her sympathies by giving the proof loyalty with her husband .Her husband is very narrow minded person .In this way Shamise has presented two contrasting aspects of feminism by depicting some characters as Active Feminist & some anti- Feminist .
Chapter 4
Methodology
4.1 Feminism in Burnt Shadows in the light of textual references
Burnt shadows can b easily called a feminist novel as it presents psycho analysis of women’s experiences throughout their lives .The female characters of this novel are portrayed as bold & optimist. They fall but they get up, again they fall but they again get up with same strength and same strong will power and courage .we see at many places women characters encounters many hardships and sufferings but they face those situations with huge confidence and courage .The Female characters of burnt shadows are self reliant, optimist, positive and they bear strong will power which is always unbreakable and immortal even at most difficult times. The novelist has presented a very positive character of women in her writings by depicting women psychology with depth, the novel is about a gril Hirko Tanka she faces so many tragedies caused by some strong reasons. She losses everything which is dear to her and the bitterness of such feelings always remains unforgettable till her last breath ,but despite of that she never gives up ,always come up with very affirmative behavior. Kamila shamise has presented the image of women very positive clear ,conclusive confident ,decisive, specific & affirmative .In her writings women is always given an important role ,especial place and Burnt shadows are feminist texts which explore the feminine psyche of the women characters. Hiroko, who is the protagonist character in Burnt shadows her very psyche, is depicted very well by the novelist throughout the novel. Munro’s writings have presented a very positive image of Pakistani women Hiroko,is the protagonist character in Burnt shadows her very psyche, is depicted very well by the novelist throughout the novel .Novelist has portrayed her characters as bold and very much progressive in society. We see at many places women characters encounters many hardships and sufferings but they face those situations with huge confidence and courage. Female characters of burnt shadows are self reliant, optimist, positive and they bear strong will power .The novelist has presented the women psychology with depth, the novel talks about so tragedies caused by world wars and its worst effects on the minds of so many unlucky survivor who survived but nothing else left for them to live for .The novelist has presented a very positive character of women in this novel. Kamila Shamsie’s novel is indeed depiction of world wars effects and there are many characters in the novel which are presented as a victim as we have the character of Ms.Tanika who keeps on changing her country in order to forget bitter past and have mental peace.
The whole story revolve around a Japanese young protagonist Hiroko Tania who lives in Nagasaki quite happily along with her family. Her happiness is doubled with the deep love affair between her and her German fianc?? Konrad weiss with whom she is going to get married very soon .August 9 ,1945 was a very unlucky morning for her as Atom Bomb was thrown on her mother land Nagasaki Which brought destructions, deaths, tears,sepration and disasters and it took away every near person and dear things from her .It snatches away her all joys and gifts her tears and irremovable loss. Hiroko is now the one of the survivors of Nagasaki bombing which left three crane shaped spot on her back, is now left with only one choice to forget everything and give a new beginning to her life .She does so but her misries seems infinite she keeps on changing homes, cities and countries in the search her identity and place but her untiring journey starts from Nagasaki and ends at New York, with her oldhooh.
In these novel women characters are presented as very much positive and believer of not giving up at any cast as we find such traits in the protagonist character of this novel. She bears strong will power and always remains positive. She loses everything during the dropping of atomic bomb in Nagasaki but yet she wants to give her life a new begging and leaves her land and goes to Delhi (INDIA) There she meets and Elizabeth Burton, and her conservative and narrow-minded husband James Burton .Elizabeth is found victim as she lives under the complete dominance and influence of her husband but she faces everything quietly .when James come to know that Hiroko as come all alone to Delhi He passes negative remakes about her journey. James bears a negative mind with lot of negative thoughts. He seems having a very less respect for women rather he consider women as a inferior sex in every respect and in every regards Elizabeth is also found very typical wife ,& she always seems in position of ‘YES boss”futher it can be easily understood from these lines taken from novel Burnt shadows:
‘So much for those demure Japanese women of all the stories she’d heard. Here was one who would squeeze the sun in her fist if she ever got the chance; yes, and tilt her head back to swallow its liquid light. At what point, Elizabeth wondered, had she started to believe there was virtue in living a constrained life? She clicked her heels against the floor in impatience at herself. Virtue really had nothing to do with it’

Elizabeth is found as a sitting duck and victim as she keeps on accepting all the indifferences and injustices gifted by her husband .Apparently she tries to presents herself as a modern aristocratic lady who all the time shows her due concerns and sincerities for her husband for her Husband James Burton . Kim ,the granddaughter of Hiroko also bears a passive characters she lacks the power of decision making and boldness.Symbolcially these both female characters shows women as a victim in English society.Elzibeth is found inactive and reluctant to raise her voice against the violence and oppressions faced by her .She seems to consider hardships and happenings as her destiny .When Hiroko meets her ,and comes to know about her domestic problems she tries hard to get her ride with her on the same boat but it seems useless. Though later she accepts her ideology about the existence and importance being women but still remains reluctant to practically act on her suggestions.
This novel is often called as global as in one story we see the culture, civilization of many different countries like Japan, Germany, Britain, Afghanistan, Pakistan & America. Her characters keeps on moving from one place to other often to forget bitter past or to get better future or get mental peace. But they seems fail to get what they really want in the way they really wanted. At many places we find Hiroko goes under the affect of Nostalgia, though she remains very progressive and flexible, when ever she leaves any country to move to other she soon maintains herself accordingly
But the bitter memory of her personal and tragedical loss always remains with her. She expresses her feelings with her friend Elizabeth in this way as she says:
‘Do you see those flowers on the hillside Ilse? I want to know their names in Japanese. I want to hear Japanese’I want to look like the people around me’I want the doors to slide open instead of swinging open. I want all those things that never meant anything, that still wouldn’t mean anything if I hadn’t lost them. You see, I know that. I know that but it doesn’t stop me from wanting them’

Her tone expresses her deep love for her mother land .Her love for her country seems increasing with time She seems gloomy deep inside but still she never thinks to give up, Despite of those unforgettable bitter past memories but yet she believes on moving ahead. When she moves to America in later years of her life she remains eager to learn English language and maintains her spirit of learning new things with new morning.
Hroko is found a firm believer of feminism .she never accepts social & sexual indifferences neither for herself nor for others.Shamise’s heroine is very much realistic ho never turns her face away from the realities of her life .She faces them all alone with a huge belief on herself .She never consider herself as helpless, always remains active, bold and ties to find mental peace and keeps on struggling to build her own identity. Without any doubt Shamsie has painted all the colures and feminist traits in her character. Her character seems very much inspiring for other girls of her time own today’s time as well to follow & copy the level of her boldness and intensity of her will power.In the same way at many places the traces of feminism can be found.
Chapter -5
CONCLUSION
To sum up the above mentioned discussion Burnt shadows no doubt is the feminist study where the novelist has presented the very feminine psyche of women characters in her novel .Keeping in view all the above mentioned texts Burnt shadows can easily called a Feminist novel .Novelist has presented her female character as very positive and very much optimist who despite the occurrence of great tragedies they face all problem, hardships sufferings and miseries with huge brevity and lot of confidence .As we see Hiroko who loses her house ,her near ones ,her fianc?? and her mother city Nagasaki. But still remains steadfast firm and hopeful. She never thinks to give up .Her strong will power helps to keep on moving further in her life .She changes many places, cites and countries but till the end her fight with her own sufferings till end but never give up .This novel gives us a positive teachings, huge optimism courage and strong will power which are very much important for any women to face all kinds of problems.

Source: Essay UK - http://ntechno.pro/essays/english-literature/essay-feminism-and-burnt-shadows-by-kamaila-shamsie/


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