Author's Diction~Vipin Behari Goyal

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Great Expectations By Charles Dickens and Coolie By M.R. Anand

Is Munoo an Incarnation of Pip?

Pip at Estella's House

Mulk Raj Anand is a distinguished Indian writer in English. His work reflects social and economic concerns of the oppressed class of society. That results into injustice, class conflicts, and exploitation of the poor people by rich etc. Coolie is a novel first published in the year 1936. It is the life story of an orphan Munoo, a 14-year-old hill boy and his various kinds of exploitations as the underdog in the society. 


The novel is a panorama of Indian Society during the British Regime. The poverty and hunger across the various cross section of society in rural and urban area, evils of rapid industrialisation, consequential trade unrest and communalism due to British Policy in India and snobbish behaviour of Britishers in India is painted over the entire canvas of the novel.

Munoo is the hero of the novel. He is a victim of exploitation by relatives, employers and benefactors. Munoo is ill treated by his aunt, sent to work as a domestic servant in the house of a Bank cashier, suffers severe thrashing abuses and tortures finally runs away to another city. Works in a pickle factory, exploited by the Manager, the owner goes bankrupt and Munoo becomes a freelance coolie. Chasing mirage, he goes to Mumbai, where extreme torture and harassment awaits him as a child laborer in a cotton mill. He escapes a communal riot and an Anglo-Indian lady takes her to Shimla. He is physically and morally exploited until he suffers consumption and dies. The details about family background of Mrs. Mainwaring is unnecessary and uninteresting.  Anand wanted to entertain his European audience by padding. He miserably destroyed the flow of the novel.


Great Expectations is a novel by Charles Dickens first published in the year 1861. Charles himself had a troubled childhood and his descriptions of suffering and exploitations are more genuine and heart touching. Pip is the central character of the novel. He is 8 years old orphan living with abusive sister and kindhearted brother-in-law. He is taken to the house of a cynical rich lady living with her adopted daughter. He helps a criminal under threat, who in turn arranges education of Pip through an attorney in London. Pip reaches London, is disillusioned when comes to know about benefactor, and comes back to Kent and finds his first love, waiting for him.

Charles Dickens had to work in Blacking Factory when his was father was in Debtor’s Jail. Mulk Raj Anand was born in a well to do family and received his higher education in England.

Pip and Munoo, both are orphans. Both are ill-treated and abused by relatives in childhood. An orphan child is an economic burden on the poor families, whether it is England or India. Society of England and India are  patriarchal, but in domestic matters, the will of Lady of the house prevails. Pip is ill treated by his own sister Mrs. Joe and Munoo by his aunt. Pip’s first encounter with the opposite sex happens with Estella, and Munoo is enchanted by Sheila, the elder daughter of Bank cashier Nathooram. Estella slaps and rebukes Pip, Munoo bites the cheeks of Sheila, who teases him for banana while playing a monkey game. Pip determines to win the love of Estella, Munoo runs away, never to see Sheila again.

Pip reaches London, Munoo to Mumbai. This is turning point in both the novels. So far, both the novels cover the wide spectrum of society and can be called picaresque, but growth of Pip as an individual after every incident is remarkable, while Munoo remains the victim of drudgery his whole life. Pip is a round character while Munoo is a flat character. Great Expectations is an example of the Bildungsroman, Coolie is not.

Both the novels have female characters, but their relationship with the main characters has been left to the imagination of readers. Lakshmi, wife of Hari, and Mrs. Mainwaring soothes or inflame Munoo’s desires, while Estella and Biddy do the same for Pip.

Charles Dickens changed the end of the novel on the recommendation of Bulwer Lytton. Pip meets Estella at the end of the novel; Munoo finds solace in the arms of death, the eternal bride of sufferers.

Comparatively Munoo is a second-rate version of Pip.

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©  Vipin Behari Goyal