Structural Violence: A Tool of Oppression in Munshi Premchand’s Nirmala

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Dr. Brijesh Kumar


Munshi Premchand was a progressive writer in India during nineteenth century. His writings revolve round the social themes such as caste, class, women’s rights, poverty, superstitions, feudalism and onslaught of capitalism on the middle and lower class people. Due to his utmost attachment with the commoners, he is regarded as the Charles Dickens of India. He has written almost more than a dozen novels and three hundred short stories in Hindi and Urdu. His works; Gaban, Godan, Karmbhoomi, Sewasadan, Mantra, Namak Ka Daroga, Idgah etc. highlight his social and reformative concerns. His novel, Nirmala, which underscores the constant oppression of young girls as a result of mismatched marriages, is quite popular among readers. It weaves its plot around the exploitation of a sixteen-year-old girl named Nirmala and depicts how ill-matched marriages caused by the lack of suitable dowry bring downfall of families in general and emotionally shatter young girls in particular. The heroine of the novel is driven to her plight not out of her free choice but due to the compulsions a society imposed upon newly married young girls. The laws, norms and rules a patriarchal society creates, legitimizes and maintains for its smooth functioning become oppressive in many cases for the women and girls as they are trained to follow these norms since childhood their childhood. Violence caused by the odd and biased structures of any given society is called structural violence. Its covert form prohibits people to meet the most basic needs of their life/existence. Johan Gultung, a Norwegian sociologist, theorizes this form of violence by pointing out towards various socio-cultural norms/structures which restrict the freedom of such people who fail to fit themselves into these structures. The present research paper is a genuine endeavor to highlight those subtle and systemic ways through which the protagonist of the novel, Nirmala, is made the victim of a number of unfair socio-cultural norms.


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How to Cite
Dr. Brijesh Kumar. “Structural Violence: A Tool of Oppression in Munshi Premchand’s Nirmala”. The Creative Launcher, vol. 5, no. 1, Apr. 2022, pp. 69-76, doi:10.53032/tcl.2020.5.1.10.


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Galtung, Johan. “Violence, Peace, and Peace Research”. Journal of Peace Research, vol. 6, no. 3, 1969, pp. 167-191. JSTOR. Web. 25 Sep. 2018. Accessed on 15th Nov. 2019. DOI:

Premchand, Munshi. Nirmala. Translated by Alok Rai. Oxford University Press, 1999.