The Shroud : complete review of premchand's novel

 The Shroud : complete review of premchand's novel


A masterpiece of Premchand. 

         The Shroud, originally titled KAFAN (1935), is PREMCHAND’s last short story and one of his best. Born Dhanpat Rai Srivastav, Munshi Premchand (1880-1936) was a writer of modern Hindi and Urdu literature. Premchand was the first Hindi author to introduce realism in his writings. He pioneered the new form-fiction with a special purpose. He supplemented Gandhiji’s work in the political and social fields by adopting his revolutionary ideas as themes for his literary writings. His works describe the problems of the miseries of oppressed and low-class people living in the village and the urban middle-class. He used literature to arouse public awareness about national and social issues and often wrote about topics related to corruption, child widowhood, prostitution, the feudal system, poverty, colonialism, and India’s freedom movement.


         As Marxist critic Kantimohan points out, “Kafan” (The Shroud) is really not about the cast problem. Ghisu and Madhav are landless who act as free agents and refuse to work if they are not agreeable. Life of about to die in childbirth. However, neither of them concerned about saving suffering and want has completely dehumanized them. Madhav’s wife Budhiya is her.”

                                             Dark Humor.

Dark face

    The Shroud brings out the dark humor, irony, and tragedy in the life of Ghisu, Madhav, and Budhiya who are devasted by poverty. The story opens with Ghisu and Madhav sitting in front of the fire at the door of their hut while Budhiya, the wife of Madhav is undergoing labor pains inside the hut. Ghisu and Madhav are eating potatoes which they have stolen from somewhere. Ghisu and Madhav are infamous in the whole village as the landlords and moneylenders in the village. lazy and good-for-nothing workers. There object poverty is due to their own laziness but partly, it is also because of the vicious cycle of exploitation by Ghisu and Madhav do nothing for Budhiya except listen to her heartrending wails. Finally, Budhiya dies and Ghisu and Madhav goes about in the village begging money for her funeral. They go to the Zamindar, who gives them two rupees with contempt. Other people from the village also donate some money for her cremation. They collect some five rupees and go to purchase the shroud. They look for a cheap shroud but fail. Eventually, they enter a tavern, where they drink and eat forgetting all Budhiya “Who even in death provided them their responsibilities and fearing nothing. While drinking, they comment on several things including rituals and traditions and system and praise food and drink”. They get heavily intoxicated and in the end start singing, dancing, and fall down unconscious. Thus Premchand highlights the plight of ordinary village laborers and portrays their abject poverty leading to loss of sensitivity and emotions.

Most Controversial Story.


    The Shroud is Premchand’s most controversial story that invited many meanings by critics, Premchand is known for his realistic understanding of caste oppression in the countryside and his soul-stirring portrayal of the lives of the lower castes and the ‘untouchables’. Ghisu and of the SOCIETY THEY LIVE IN RUTHLESSLY EXPLOIT THEIR CLASS OF PEOPLE. Madhav is a low caste laborer. They are absolutely rogues. But that is because Premchand very artistically depicts this moral depravity of Ghisu and Madhav is brought upon by their abject poverty and the indifference and hypocrisy of the society that doesn’t care for the rituals of the dead.

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