In Rabindranath Tagore's story "The Lost Jewels," "Mani did not understand Bhusan, it is true." In light of the above statement, how can I analyze the characters of Mani and Bhushan?

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vanertc eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The conflict in the schoolmaster's tale is based off the fact that Mani did not understand her husband, Bhusan. It seems this is due more to Bhusan’s non-traditional nature as a man than the typical differences between men and women. We cannot judge their relationship, however, unless we first seek to understand them as individuals.

The schoolmaster presents Bhusan Saha as a very non-traditional Bengali man, too modern for his time. His college education, flawless English, and rejections of tradition made him different from most Bengali men. The true source of Bhusan's troubles with his wife, however, stemmed from his unusually gentle nature with her. He loved his beautiful wife so much that he sought to provide her with whatever she desired--rich clothing and jewelry--without her even needing to ask. When his business began failing, he was extremely reticent in asking Mani for the loan of her jewels. Her angry refusal actually makes him feel guilty for asking. A traditional man of the time would have simply ordered his wife to pass over the jewels (and a traditional woman would have respected that). As the schoolmaster puts it, Bhusan "had not even a trace of that barbarity which is the gift of the male," but instead he was a "harmless and foolish husband" whose modern sensitivity was lost on his wife.

Bhusan’s soft nature simply could not win the love or respect of a beautiful woman who approached marriage with the "unsophisticated instincts which womankind has acquired through ages." Put bluntly, Mani was not modern. When her husband simply gave her all the love and treasures she could desire, she felt cheated out of the romance game. She never got to use her womanly wiles, so she was never "able to pride herself on a victory." As the schoolmaster tells it, without a reason to win Bhusan over, Mani began to take him for granted, and her feminine nature turned cold. She had nobody to love but herself. On top of this, she had a frugal nature that turned to greed as she acquired wealth. Like a spoiled child, she only thought of herself, feeling self-sufficient. Therefore, when Bhusan so delicately suggested his need of her jewels, she went into self-preservation mode. She was incapable of understanding how difficult it was for him to come to her with this matter, plus she was so used to having the power in the relationship that she simply overlooked his need. With such a self-centered view of her marriage, it never occurred to Mani that she could trust Bhusan. She had long since transferred her love to her jewels, symbolizing her beautiful but hardened nature, which she sacrificed her own life to protect.

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