The Home and the World is set during the height of the Swadeshi movement, a boycott of British goods that was initiated in 1905 as a protest against Great Britain’s arbitrary division of Bengal into two parts. At first, Tagore was one of the leaders of Swadeshi, but when protests evolved into violent conflicts between Muslims and Hindus, Tagore left the movement. In The Home and the World, he explained why he did not approve of what Swadeshi had become.

The novel consists of twenty-three chapters, each of them a first-person narrative by one of the three major characters. The first and the last chapters are both labeled “Bimala’s Story,” thus emphasizing the fact that the young wife Bimala is the pivotal character in what is superficially a love triangle but, more profoundly, is a conflict between two points of view, one good, the other evil. The other two narrators are Nikhil, Bimala’s husband, a wealthy landowner with Enlightenment views and a benevolent nature, and Sandip, a charismatic but completely unscrupulous Swadeshi leader.

Although for some time her husband has urged Bimala to move out into the world, it is not until she meets the charismatic Sandip that she decides to take advantage of the freedom Nikhil has offered her. The first time Sandip comes to dinner, he urges her to remain with the men and take part in the discussion. Nikhil feels that he must invite Sandip to be his guest while he is in the...

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