In the story "The Lost Jewels" by Rabindranath Tagore, please give a character analysis of Bhusan and Mani based on the statement, "Mani did not understand her husband, it's true."
In Rabindranath Tagore’s short story “The Lost Jewels,” the narrator hears the story of Bhusan and Mani from a schoolmaster who inhabits the house the couple used to live in. The characterizations of Bhusan and Mani are colored by the perspective of the schoolmaster who criticizes the couple for their modern ways.
The schoolmaster says, “Mani did not understand her husband,” but reveals that really no one did. As the schoolmaster tells the couple’s story, he frequently derides Bhusan for rejecting traditional masculine behavior, especially in his interactions with his wife Mani. He says, “With his college education on the one hand, and on the other his beautiful wife, what chance was there of his preserving our good old traditions in his home?” The schoolmaster attributes Bhusan’s misfortunes in his business and in his family to his embracing of modern civilization and rejection of traditional values. He says Bhusan was “not able to face his wife as easily as most men are,” indicating he does not have the masculine strength and dominance that is typically expected of men in Bengali culture. This relates to the idea that Mani did not understand her husband. The schoolmaster says that Bhusan could not openly speak to his wife about what was on his mind, which contributes to Mani not understanding him. The schoolmaster paints a picture of Bhusan as a spineless husband who should stand up to his wife with anger rather than just distress when she does not want to turn over her jewels, which are needed to bolster the family’s finances.
Mani is depicted as a cold, calculating wife whose beauty causes her to take for granted her doting husband and wealth. Again, the schoolmaster criticizes Mani for not complying with traditional gender roles, saying, “Her woman’s nature became atrophied.” Ironically, he even refers to her as one of her husband’s “possessions,” yet criticizes her for only having love for her own possessions. Mani is described as somewhat of a recluse with a “heart that is an ice-box.” The schoolmaster does praise her for being efficient in work and the operation of the household. However, he attributes this quality to her lack of emotion: “Not being anxious about any one, never being distracted by love, always working and saving, she was never sick nor sorry.” Ultimately, the schoolmaster portrays Mani as an unemotional woman, concerned only with herself and her wealth.