What role does Darzee play in "Rikki-Tikki-Tavi?"

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rmhope eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Darzee the tailorbird plays two important roles in "Rikki-Tikki-Tavi." First, he acts as a foil to Rikki, and second, he performs a role similar to the chorus in Greek drama, interpreting the story for the reader suggesting the emotions the reader should feel.

A foil is a character who brings out the qualities of another character by way of contrast. In this story, the bravery, intelligence, and initiative of Rikki become more apparent when contrasted with the fear, mental dullness, and passivity of Darzee. When Rikki first meets Darzee, he is crying in his nest, and when Nag appears, Darzee cowers and is afraid to speak. Rikki, on the other hand, immediately confronts Nag about eating the fledgling. Rikki must chide Darzee for not having told him where the cobras' eggs are; Rikki takes the initiative to seek them out and destroy them. When Rikki asks for Darzee's help in luring Nagaina away from the eggs, Darzee cannot quite grasp that it is desirable to destroy cobra eggs since he relates them to bird eggs. 

Second, Darzee, like the chorus in a Greek drama, fills in the story line for the reader and displays the emotions the reader is meant to feel. Thus Darzee introduces the conflict by explaining how Nag has eaten one of Darzee's babies that fell from the nest, and later, and he also fills in some of the details about what happened after Rikki and the man team up to kill Nag. It is from the bird that we learn that Nag's dead body was thrown on the rubbish heap. During the climax Nag explains the danger Rikki faces in the rat hole by predicting, "For Nagaina will surely kill him underground."

Darzee's emotions help readers become more emotionally involved with the story. His sorrow at the death of his fledgling, his effusive praise of Rikki's bravery, his fear of the snakes, and his dire predictions during the climactic scene all help readers become more attached to Rikki while they create suspense and involvement in the story. 

Although readers don't particularly like the character of Darzee, he performs two essential roles in the story, that of a foil for Rikki and that of a chorus, interpreting the action and helping the reader connect emotionally with the tale.