Write about the characterization in Tagore's "The Devotee."

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Tagore creates a dynamic and direct characterization of the protagonist in "The Devotee."

Tagore's titular character is complex.  She bursts onto the scene calling Tagore her God and offering him flowers.  As the narrative develops, her devotion becomes more intense.  This prompts the reader to want to know more about her.  In a very direct manner, Tagore provides the background to fill out her characterization.  The result is a depth that makes the devotee a universal figure.

Tagore is able to create this characterization through creating situations that embody tragic conditions.  For example, the setting through which the devotee is revealed is almost like a confessional setting.  The devotee is offered a platform through which she can converse with God, almost divulging her transgressions in the hopes of finding peace.  This is universal in its reach.  It is one way that Tagore is able to develop the devotee's dynamic characterization.

Another way that Tagore develops in his characterization are the events of the woman's life.  The death of her child, the leaving of her husband, and the reality of ruptured bonds and broken dreams are all universal conditions through which characterization emerges.  In these situations, Tagore uses emotional images that make the woman universally understood.  This helps to enhance her characterization into a complex and dynamic form.  For example, marriage to a "simple husband" who is "teased mercilessly," being a young mother, neglecting a child who simply wanted to be loved, and then watching this child laugh as he thought he could be closer to his mother only to die doing so are all instances where characterization is developed. The act that caused her to leave her husband is another means through which characterization is developed.  These situations create empathy within the reader in expanding the depth of the devotee.

The ending of the story is where the characterization of the devotee assumes the most intricate of dimensions.  As the devotee leaves, the reader knows that she "must have truth, and truth alone."  We know nothing else.  This woman has become fundamentally different than she was at the story's exposition.  Her characterization is dynamic and universal.  She represents the hope in what might be as well as the crushing reality of what often is.