NCERT Solutions for class 10th Social Science Chapter 5 History – Novels, Society, and History.


On Page 180

Question 1. Explain what is meant by the following of novels

  1. Epistolary novel
  2. Serialised novel

For each type, name one writer who wrote in that style.

Answer :

  1. Epistolary Novel  These novels are written in the form of a series of letters. 

Samuel Richardson’s Pamela was an epistolary novel.

2. Serialised Novel A format in which the story is published in instalments, each part in a new issue of a magazine.  Charles Dicken’s Pickwick papers written in 1836 was a serialised novel.

On Page 189

Question 2. Write about two important characteristics of the early Hindi novel.

Answer Two important characteristics of the early Hindi novel were

  1. These novels intends to remain rooted in the value of their own tradition and culture, and to live with dignity and honour.
  2. These novels told interesting stories using simple language.


Write in brief

Question 1. Explain the following

  1. Social changes in Britain which led to an increase in women readers.
  2. What actions of Robinson Crusoe make us see him as a typical coloniser?
  3. After 1740, the readership of novels began to include poorer people.
  4. Novelists in colonial India wrote for a political cause.


  1. The most exciting element of the novels of the 18th century was the involvement of women. The 18th century saw the middle classes become more prosperous. Women got more leisure to read as well as write novels. And novels began exploring the world of women— their emotions and identities, their experiences and problems. 

The novels of Jane Austen give us a glimpse of the world of women in rural society in early 19th century Britain. They make us think about a society which encouraged women to look for ‘good’ marriages and find wealthy or propertied husbands. The first sentence of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice states, ‘it is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.

Many novels were about domestic life- a theme about which women were allowed to speak with authority. They drew upon their experiences, wrote about family life, and earned public recognition.

2. Robinson Crusoe as depicted in the novel, gives an impression of superiority. He trades in slaves, treats coloured people not as equal human beings but as inferior people. He rescues a native and makes him his slave. He does not ask his name but casually calls him ‘Friday’. The natives were seen as primitive and barbaric people by him. This attitude was typical of a colonial master and represents the period to which Crusoe belonged.

3. After 1740 poor people also joined the readership of novels, as a large number of circulating libraries were introduced which enabled the poor people an easier and greater access to books. In France books were lent to poor people on hourly payment. This helped poor people to read a well known book without actually buying it.

In rural areas, people would collect to hear one of them reading a novel aloud, often becoming deeply involved in the lives of the characters. The worlds created by the novels were absorbing and believable and they were seemingly real.

4. The novelists wrote for the political cause of nationalism. Nationalism implies many concepts which have been brought out in the following examples of novels written during the colonial era

  • Pariksha Guru reflects the inner and outer world of the newly emerging middle classes. The characters in the novel are caught in the difficulty of adapting to colonised society, and at the same time, preserving their culture and traditions.
  • Bankims Ananadamath (1882) is a novel about a secret Hin di militia that fights Muslims to establish a Hindi kingdom. It was a novel that inspired many kinds of freedom fighters.
  • In Bengal, many historical novels were about Marathas and Rajputs. These novels produced a sense of a pan—Indian belonging. 
  • Potheri Kunjambu, a ‘lower—caste’ writer from North Kerala, wrote a novel called Saraswativijayam in 1892 mounting a strong attack on caste oppression.
  • Munshi Premchand’s Sewasadan deals mainly with the poor condition of women in society. Issues like child marriage and dowry are woven into the story of the novel. It also tells us about ways in which the Indian upper classes used whatever little opportunities they got from colonial authorities to govern themselves.
  • From the 1920s, in Bengal too, a new kind of novel emerged that depicted the lives of peasants and ‘low’castes. Titash Ekti Nadir Naam is an epic by Advaita Malla. Burman (1914-51) is about the Mallas a community of fisherfolk who live off fishing in the river Titash.
  • Premchand’s novels, for instance, are filled with all kinds of powerful characters drawn from all levels of the society. In his novels, we meet aristocrats and landlords, middle—level peasants and landless labourers, middle class professionals, and people from all the strata of society.

Question 2. Outline the changes in technology and society which led to and increase in the readers of the novel in 18th century Europe.

Answer: The following changes occurred at this time

  1. Introduction of circulating libraries after 1740 enabled the people to have easier and greater access to books.
  2. Technological improvements in printing brought down the prices of books. Innovations in marketing led to the popularity of the novels because now it became quite easy to print novels in large numbers.
  3. Novels appealed to all the sections of society, both middle class people like shopkeepers and a clerks, as well as the aristocratic and gentlemanly classes.
  4. Novels became a popular medium of entertainment among the women readers. 
  5. Most of the novelists used the vernacular, the language that is spoken by the common people.
  6. The novels dealt with many social issues, such as love marriages, proper conduct for men and women, and so on. So, common people were attracted towards them.

Question 3. Write a note on

  1. The Oriya Novel
  2. Jane Austen’s portrayal of women
  3. The picture of the new middle class which the novel Pariksha Guru portrays.

Answer :

  1. The Oriya Novel In 1877-78, Ramashankar Ray, a dramatist, began serialising the first Oriya novel Saudamani. But he could not complete it. Within thirty years, however, orissa produced a major novelist in Fakir Mohan Senapati (1843-1918) The title of this novel Chaa Mana Atha Guntha announces a new kind of novel that will deal with the question of land and its possession. This pathbreaking work showed that the novel could make rural issues an important part of urban preoccupations. In writing this, Fakir Mohan anticipated a host of writers in Bengal and elsewhere.
  2. Jane Austen’s Portrayal of Women The novels of Jane Austen give us a glimpse of the world of women in genteel rural society in midnineteenth century Britain. Women, at that time, were encouraged to look for a good marriage and find a wealthy and propertied husband. Her famous novel ‘ Pride and Prejudice depicts this well. It writes “it is the truth, universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of good fortune must be in want of a good wife”. The main characters are shown to be pre-occupied with marriage and money.
  3. Srinivas Das’s novel ‘Pariksha Guru’ reflects the inner and outer world of the newly emerging middle class in India. It shows how the characters of this novel are caught in the difficulty of adapting themselves to colonised society and at the same time preserving their own cultural identity. Modernity appeared to be frightening and at the same time irresistible. The novel tries to teach the readers to be rooted to their own tradition and culture and to live in dignity and honour. It also teaches one to be worldly wise and practical to survive in this material world.


Question 1. Discuss some of the social changes in the 19th century Britain which Thomas Hardy and Charles Dickens wrote about.

Answer : Social changes in 19th century Britain highlighted by Thomas Hardy

  1. The breaking up of rural communities because of industri alisation. Due to industrialisation, peasants who toiled with their la nds were disappearing as large or big farmers enclosed lands, bought machines and employed labourers to produce for the market.
  2. The breaking up of rural communities because of industri alisation. Due to industrialisation, peasants who toiled with their la nds were disappearing as large or big farmers enclosed lands, bought machines and employed labourers to produce for the market.

Social Changes Highlighted by Charles Dickens

  1. Charles Dickens wrote mainly about the emergence of the i ndustrial age and it’s effects on society and the common people.
  2. Growth of factories and expanded cities led to the growt h of business and economy and increased the profits of capitalists.
  3. At the same time workers faced immense problems. Use of machines resulted in unemployment of ordinary labour; they became ho meless, creating a problem of housing. Pursuit of profit became the g oal of factory owners while the workers were undervalued and almos t lost their identity. Human beings were reduced to being mere inst ruments of production.

Question 2. Summarise the concern in both 19th century Europe and India about women reading novels. What does this suggest about how women were viewed.

Answer :  When women began writing and reading novels, many people feared that they would now neglect their traditional role as wives and mothers, and homes would be in disorder. 

Many men were suspicious of women writing novels or reading t hem. This suspicion cut across communities. Hannah Mullens, a Christian missionary and the author of the Karuna O Phulmonir Bibaran (1852), repu tedly the first novel in Bengali, tells her readers that she wrote in secret. 

In the 20th century, Shailabala Ghosh Jaya, a popular novelist, could only write because her husband protected her. As we have seen in the case of the South, women and girls were often discouraged from reading novels. All this suggests that women were viewed as persons who should be completely controlled by the men in their family and should continue their traditional household duties as wives and mothers.

Question 3. In what ways was the novel in colonial India useful for both the colonisers as well as the nationalists?

Answer: Colonial administrators found useful information for governing Indian society in the ‘Vernacular’ novels, as these novels w ere a valuable source of information on Indian life and customs.The British h knew very little about life in an Indian family, which was depicted in these novels. Many of the novels were translated into English and so they could understand them. For the nationalists, the novels were used as a powerful medium to improve Indian society, as well as creating a sense of national pride by recounting glorious tales of the past. As long as people shared a common l anguage, the novels created a sense of collective belonging. The nove ls also made the readers familiar with the ways in which people in other parts of India spoke their language.

All these reasons made the novel useful for the nationalists.

Question 4. Describe how the issue of caste was included in novels in India. By referring to any two novels, discuss the ways in w hich they tried to make readers think about the existing social issues.

Answer : Issue of Caste in Novels in India  The novel ‘Indulekha’ highlights the marriage practices of upper caste Hindus in Kerala by showing that they needed to be reformed. The novel ‘Saraswat ivijayam’ strongly attacked caste oppression by showing how a young ma n from an ‘untouchable’ caste converts to Christianity, acquires a modern education and becomes a judge. It showed the importance of education fo r the upliftment of the lower castes. 

Thus, issues of caste were interwoven in these stories in an i nteresting way for the readers so that they were made to think about them.

Question 5. Describe the ways in which the novels in India attempted to create a sense of Pan—Indian belonging.

Answer :

  1. Many historical novels were about Marathas and the Rajpu ts which produced a sense of a pan—Indian belonging in Bengal. They imagined the nation to be full of adventure, heroism, romanc e and sacrifice—qualities that could not be found in the offices a nd streets of the 19th Century world. The novel allowed the colonised to give a shape to their desires.
  2. Bankim’s Anandmath is a novel about a secret Hindu milit ia that fight Muslims to establish a Hindu kingdom. It was a novel that insp ired many kinds of freedom fighters.
  3. Shivaji, the hero of the novel Anguriya Binimoy (1857) written by Budhadeb Mukhopadhyaya’s (1827-94) engages in many battle s against clever and treacherous Aurangzeb, what gives him courage and grit is his belief that he is a nationalist fighting for the freedom of Hindus.
  4. Imagining a heroic past was one way in which the novel helped in popularising the sense of belonging to a common nation. It wa s another way to include various classes in the novel so that th ey could be seen as belonging to a shared world. Premchand’s novels, f or instance, are filled with all kinds of powerful characters d rawn from all levels of society.
Share this: