Story Analysis of ‘Sultana’s Dream’ by Rokeya Sakhawat Hossain


I bring you a ‘Read of the Day,’ a short horror story, so that we can indulge in the joy of reading. You can visit my site to check a short story for analysis and participate in the discussion in the comments.

Read of the Day 

Today, we will read Sultana’s Dream by Rokeya Sakhawat Hossain. You can read the short story online here: Sultana’s dream full text

Who wrote Sultana’s Dream? 

Begum Rokeya standing with book in her hand
Begum Rokeya

Rokeya Sakhawat Hossain or Begum Rokeya was a Bengali feminist author, educator, and political activist from British India or present-day Bangladesh. She is the pioneer of women’s liberation in South Asia. Her most significant work includes Matichur (A String of Sweet Pearls), Sultana’s Dream, Padmarag (Essence of the Lotus), and Abarodhbasini (The Confined Women). 

Sultana’s Dream Analysis

Sultana’s Dream by Rokeya Sakhawat Hossain is a futuristic sci-fi feminist story that was first published in a Madras English newspaper called The Indian Ladies Magazine in 1905.

The story is set in a utopian place called Ladyland. In this story, the author reverses the gender roles, and we see the women as the dominant gender. In Ladyland, the women call the shots, and men live a confined life akin to the traditional Muslim purdah system. The women are the modern architects, engineers, and scientists of the world, and the author depicts a far more technically advanced, efficient, and peaceful world than the one we live in reality which is ruled by men.

The story takes witty potshots at the traditional patriarchal system and highlights the need and importance of gender equality, women’s education, and agency.

Hossain emphasises how most of the world’s problems are manmade, and if women take charge, most of these problems will cease to exist. A world ruled by women would mean lesser crime and more peace and harmony. In Hossain’s utopian Ladyland, we see women on top as scientists and world leaders working collaboratively for the wellbeing of all, unlike a man’s world on earth where it’s competitive, chaotic, and destructive.

I found Sultana’s Dream by Rokeya Sakhawat Hossain ahead of its time, a progressive story that deals with the subjects of feminism, education, and environmentalism. It’s not surprising because Rokeya Sakhawat Hossain knew how to read and write. A rarity for women born in those times. It’s also no surprise that Sultana’s Dream is among the first stories to be written in English by women in colonial times. The story is a distinct landmark in Indian Literature in English.

But what’s shocking is that we still have the patriarchal system thick in place. It forces women to drop out of their workplaces after a particular stage of their life and the glass ceiling still exists. We still need more women in politics to protect our rights and interests. We still need more women scientists and environmentalists to take charge and help us live in a better, more equal and harmonious world.

What did you think of Sultana’s Dream by Rokeya Sakhawat Hossain?

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Tina Sequeira
Tina Sequeira is a marketer and moonlighting writer. She is passionate about tech, creativity, and social justice—dabbling in and writing about the same.

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