What are the Romantic characteristics in R. K. Narayan's The Guide?

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The Guide by R. K. Narayan exhibits the Romantic characteristics of a focus on the individual, concentration on emotions, artistic creativity, and supernatural elements.

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While R.K. Narayan's novel The Guide is not a classic piece of Romantic literature, it does contain some Romantic characteristics. Let's explore some of these and see how they work in the piece.

Romanticism tends to focus on the individual, and this novel certainly does that. At its heart stands Raju and his goals, dreams, desires, and deceptions. Other characters exist and function in relation to this protagonist even though they are well-developed in their own right. The story follows Raju's rise and fall, concentrating on his individual experiences and the ways in which he continually reinvents himself.

Romanticism is also all about emotions, and Raju is certainly driven by those (much more so than by his reason). When Rosie enters Raju's life, his desire for her makes him abandon some of his principles. They have an affair, and eventually Rosie comes to live with him. But as their wealth grows, Raju's passion shifts to a desire for wealth, and he squanders the money, leading the couple into poverty. Raju is also driven by his jealousy, and this is what breaks up his relationship with Rosie.

One of the themes of The Guide is the importance of self-expression through art, and this is tied closely to Romanticism. Raju is a storyteller with an active imagination. Rosie is a dancer who is not happy unless she is dancing. Her talent makes her famous, but it is her love of dance that drives her life.

Finally, stories related to Romanticism often have supernatural elements, and The Guide actually ends on a supernatural note as people come to see Raju as a swami, a holy man. Raju is not actually that, at least at the beginning. He merely solves a problem for one of the villagers. Then he starts acting yet another part. But eventually, Raju decides that he will fast for two weeks to bring rain to the river. He begins to be a holy man in earnest at this point, even to the point of nearly sacrificing himself. The novel ends with rain appearing on the horizon and, perhaps, Raju finally finding himself.

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