Dynamics of Surveillance and Discovery of Self in Musharraf Ali Farooqi's The Story of a Widow

Momal Zahra

  • Momal Zahra Kinnaird College for Women, Lahore
Keywords: Ideology, Interpellation, Panopticon, Resistance, Surveillance


This qualitative research identifies Foucault's idea of panoptical surveillance (1995) based on Jeremy Bentham's ideal prison in The Story of a Widow by Musharraf Ali Farooqi. Research draws parallel between 'panopticon' and societal surveillance which is in the form of traditions, norms, male gaze and resistance strategies and traces behaviour of characters in response to surveillance. The character of novel's protagonist – Mona is particularly analyzed through panoptic lens of theory. This study traces notion of “ideology” and “interpellation” from Althusser's essay “Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses” (1971) in order to depict struggle of Mona against ideological surveillance. Social ideologies form identity of individuals and thrust their power and subjection on Mona who in turn fights for creating her own identity. The research endeavours to explore struggle of women in finding 'Self' under societal surveillance and ideologies which hail people as 'subjects'. It also aims to study whether it is possible for a woman to attain self-satisfaction by rebelling against prevailing societal notions which act as hurdle in practicing their rights or not. This research will further help to discover dynamics of power and authority for both genders and shall establish humanistic approach of gender equality. It will aid in inculcating the notion that societal surveillance should be beneficial for growth of all individuals rather than restricting the autonomy of some (women) in society which leads to social unrest.