What is a summary of Rabindranath Tagore's "The Lost Jewels?"

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kipling2448 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Typical of stories emanating from the Bengali region of India, Rabindranath Tagore's story, "Monihara" or, as it is translated into English, "Lost Jewels," incorporates a healthy dose of mysticism and mystery.  

On the proverbial dark, stormy night, a school teacher walking along a river encounters a man on a boat and engages him in conversation.  The mysterious stranger tells the teacher about the history of a nearby gothic old dilapidated house that shows signs of having once been the domain of wealthy people.  The house, as described by the stranger, once belonged to a couple, Phanibhushan Saha and his wife, Monimalika.  A member's Bengal's elite, Phanibhushan and Monimalika live an isolated existence, surrounded by the trappings of wealth.  Monimalika spends much of her time handling and admiring her jewels. 

A fire destroys one of Phanibhushan's factories, leaving the couple destitute, with Monimalika's jewels representing their sole remaining source of wealth.  Fearful of Phanibhushan's desire to sell the jewels for much needed money, Monimalika chooses to protect them by wearing all of them at once, and promply disappears.  Increasingly despondent, Phanibhushan descends into a virtual state of emotional paralysis, unable to function in the absence of his wife and his wealth.  The story reaches its climax when a ghost-like figure visits him one dark and stormy night and seizes the one final piece of jewelry that was still in the house and departs, leaving Phanibhushan alone and terrified.

Phanibhushan clearly fits into the mold of Ebenezer Scrooge, and the "dark and stormy night" theme would later be employed to questionable effect by Snoopy.

jameadows eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This story is told by an unnamed narrator who claims he heard it from a schoolmaster sitting before a dilapidated grand house. The schoolmaster says that a rich man named Bhusan Saba, who followed modern ways, used to live in the house. Bhusan married a beautiful, cold woman named Mani, who, the schoolmaster says, was able to manipulate her husband and get what she wanted without wheedling. The schoolmaster claims that Bhusan was too untraditional in his ways, leading to his wife's ruin.

Bhusan needed money and asked his wife for some of her jewels, but she was unwilling to part with them. He was also unwilling to take them by force. His wife decided to flee with her jewels so that her husband would not take them, and she set off in a boat bedecked with jewels. When Bhusan returned, he searched for Mani in vain, but she was never found. In a state of deep mourning, Bhusan began to hear the noise of a body wearing jewels coming towards his house, and then he dreamed of a skeleton bedecked in jewels who came in search of him and beckoned him to the river. He stepped out in his dream and drowned in the river.

At the end of the story, the schoolmaster asks if the narrator believes the story, but the narrator replies that he does not. The reason is that he is Bhusan Saba, and his wife has an entirely different name than the name used in the story.