Rabindranath Tagore

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"When he ought to have been angry, Bhusan was only distressed. Man is the rod of God's justice, to him has been entrusted the thunderbolt of the divine wrath, and if at wrong done to himself or another it does not at once break out into fury, then it is a shame. God has so arranged it that man, for the most trifling reason, will burst forth in anger like a forest fire, and woman will burst into tears like a rain-cloud for no reason at all. But the cycle seems to have changed, and this appears no longer to hold good."

Please explain this passage from the story 'The Lost Jewels' by Rabindranath Tagore.


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"The Lost Jewels" is a story that it not merely about the loss of gems and gold. It is also a tale of the imbalance in the relationship between man and wife that leads to tragic consequences.

The passage under question is part of the narration by a schoolteacher who sits on the stone steps of an old bathing ghat which is near a river. He tells of a husband who has been deserted by his wife, who has secretly covered her body with her jewels because he has asked to borrow some of them for collateral for a loan that he needs. She has purportedly departed for her father's house, and is accompanied by her cousin Modhu, who secretly hopes that some of these jewels may become his.

When the old steward learns of Mani's departure with her jewels, he is incensed and writes to his master, Bhusan, the husband, whom he loves. In this letter, he criticizes the laxity of Bhusan regarding his treatment of his wife because he perceives this lenience as the cause of what has happened. In turn, Bhusan is terribly distressed that his wife has not been grateful to him for allowing her to keep her jewels even though he needed them during his time of hardship. He is especially hurt that she should suspect him "in this time of his desperate straits."

The passage which follows this quotation explains the balance between man and woman that has been disturbed by the weakness of Bhusan. He should be enraged, but instead he is only "distressed." This reaction is not according to man's nature. For God "has so arranged it" that man should display dominance and become enraged, and "break out into a fury" and frighten the woman so that she cries and submits to him. But, "the cycle " (the relationship between man and wife) seems to have changed; as a result, the fear of her husband no longer exists in the woman, and she acts on her own whims to the detriment of the relationship. This change is "no longer to hold good"; that is, it is not an effective relationship between man and woman. For, if Bhusan had been "enraged" in the beginning when he asked for the jewels, his frightened wife may well have cried and given him her jewels in submission so that he could procure the loan he has needed. Then, too, she would have remained with him.


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