R.A. Kartini, After Darkness Revealed Light (Door Duisternis Tot Licht)

Helloindonesia.id – The collection which was later given the title Dark Out of Light, written by Raden Ajeng Kartini, is an unusual work, both according to the times and according to its origin.

Ra Kartini

There are questions that arise, how can a work emerge from the conditions of feudalism and colonialism with strong restraints. This reminds us of extraordinary brilliant works that emerged from prison, or appeared in conditions in the restraints of authoritarian ruling regimes.

The collection of writings is the result of the correspondence of R.A. Kartini between 1899 and 1903. The writings in the letters addressed to this questioner showed Kartini’s concern for the life of Javanese women.

The letters collected amounted to 235 letters. The letters were then recorded by J. H. Abendanon, a head of the colonial government education department entitled Door duisternis tot licht (After Darkness Revealed).

In his letters, Kartini described the life of a sad Javanese woman, without education, and her life was traversed only to wait for men who wanted to marry her. In his letter to Stella, Kartini said:


We, girls who are still bound by old customs, can only take advantage of the progress in the education sector. As girls, every day leaving home to study at school is a major violation of our country’s customs.

From the quote, it appears that education at that time was very difficult to access for women. Only priyay women can access education. That was only up to elementary school level, the rest of the women were secluded while waiting for the prospective husband to come to apply. Education for women is a very expensive and rare item. Even in another letter, Kartini criticized forced marriage and polygamy:


We (read: women) should not aspire. The only thing we can dream of is today or tomorrow to be the umpteenth wife for one of the men … Women here must not express any wishes; they just mated … mated to anyone who was seen as good by their parents.

From the quotation above, Kartini is aware that as a woman, she must not have desires or aspirations, and she does not have the power to determine her destiny. All decisions are in the hands of parents. This condition shows that the Javanese feudalism system at that time bounded many women with various rules so that women’s steps were short and limited.

Seeing concerns over the fate of Javanese women, Kartini viewed education as important for women. His efforts in forming small classes at his home were an effort to make women literate and knowledge literate. Kartini believes that education for women is one of the efforts to educate people’s lives. For Kartini, “Education makes women more capable of carrying out the tasks that Mother Alam gave to her in order to become a mother: the main human educator.”

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