Justify the use of a supernatural element in the the story "The Lost Jewels" by Rabindranath Tagore.

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Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Justification of the Supernatural

Tagore's Justification as the Author

The consistent elements of Tagore's work that are apparent in this short story, "The Lost Jewels," are:

  • an interest in mysticism.
  • the contradictory nature of human love as both sacred and profane.
  • questioning the inner reality of experience.
  • exploring humankind's relationship to the spiritual and to the divine.
  • exploring the concepts of love and beauty.
  • exploring the dehumanizing effect of greed.

In consideration of Tagore's explorations and questions in these categories of thought, he is justified in writing a tale in which the supernatural projects answers to some of his questions: Greed trips the profane of human love into destruction of that love and of beauty and triggers mystical retribution for violating the balance of the inner reality of human relationships.

Storyteller's Justification

The teacher offers his own justification for the supernatural elements by suggesting that (1) he is starved for conversation and by claiming that (2) he has been exiled from his wife's presence.

"I live alone, you see; I am banished from the company of my wife, and there are many important social questions which I have leisure to think about, but cannot discuss with my pupils. In course of conversation you will see how deeply I have thought of them."

In the first case, if delving into the supernatural aids the teacher in presenting his complex and ironical view of the right balance between man and woman, love and beauty, greed and generosity, then this boredom and his physical destitution are justification enough.

In the second case, delving into the supernatural helps to alleviate or expunge the disdain he ironically feels toward himself and his own failings, for, according to his philosophy, he must have been very like the "Bhusan" of his story to have been "banished" from his wife's presence:

Her harmless and foolish husband used to imagine that to give is the way to get. The fact was just the contrary. ... [H]e brought away his wife to this house and kept her to himself alone. But there is this difference between a wife and one's other possessions, that by keeping her to oneself one may lose her beyond recovery.