Rabindranath Tagore

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What is a character sketch of Mani from "The Lost Jewels", based on the statement, "Mani did not understand Bhusan?"

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In "The Lost Jewels," Mani is the beautiful wife of Bhusan Saha, a modern and well-educated businessman. Though the reader does not have any direct experience of Mani in the text, we can infer much about her character through the narrator's story:

  • Mani does not reciprocate her husband's love. It is noted in the text that she viewed her husband as a "machine" from which she obtained her fine clothes and jewels. But she did not show gratitude for such presents: as the narrator comments, she did not "oil" the wheels of this machine. This idea is further reinforced by the line, "she got her caresses without asking," which implies that she does not display any affection towards him, even when he displays it towards her.
  • Mani is materialistic and all of her attentions and interests were focused on her jewels. When her husband turned to her for financial help, for example, she refused him and fled the house, taking her jewels with her.
  • This act also shows that Mani is not easily swayed by the emotions of others. Despite her husband's desperate appeal, she "set her face hard" and did not even respond to him verbally.
  • Mani would rather receive than give. According to the narrator, "in her hands, nothing was lost." This means that Mani saved up every item she ever received but she avoided sharing these items with others, even as part of a religious "vow" or as an act of charity. This also suggests that she was self-centered.
  • Mani is not keen on socializing with others. The narrator notes that she was not especially talkative and did not have many relationships with other people, like her neighbors.
  • Mani is not wasteful with her resources. The narrator describes her as an "efficient" worker, and notes that she does not employ any more servants than necessary. In Mani's mind, this was wasteful and akin to "playing pickpocket with her own money."
  • Mani seeks advice when she feels it is necessary. After the incident with her husband, she calls on her counselor for advice on what to do next. That she has a counselor suggests that she is not trusting of everyone around her and that she is a cautious person. That she heeds his advice also shows she is open to the opinions of others.
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From Rabindranath Tagore's "Lost Jewels," explain the character of Mani, in the light of the statement, "Mani did not understand Bhusan, it is true."

Mani, Bhusan's wife, does not understand her husband's gentle and accommodating nature and mistakes his gentle love for indifference or even greed. According to the schoolmaster who narrates "Lost Jewels," Bhusan is a modern man who treats his wife in too mild a manner. The schoolmaster says, "A man need not necessarily be ugly or poor to be cheated of his wife's love; but he is sure to lose it if he is too gentle." The schoolmaster maintains that a wife who gets gifts too easily from her husband and who does not need to cajole him into doing things for her will not love her husband. 

Mani is a beautiful and pampered woman who enjoys privileges without working for them. As the schoolmaster says:

"She used to get her caresses without asking, her Dacca muslin saris without tears, and her bangles without being able to pride herself on a victory. In this way her woman's nature became atrophied, and with it her love for her husband. She simply accepted things without giving anything in return."

In other words, Mani never has to sacrifice anything for her marriage, and she does not learn to commit to anything or anyone. She leads a very placid life, as she is not worried about her husband's love. She practices efficiency in running the house, and she never has to worry about losing her looks, as she seems to remain young forever. 

As Bhusan does not ask anything from her, Mani does not need to give anything and becomes selfish as a result. As the schoolmaster says of Bhusan:

"His love for his wife was of that kind which has to tread very carefully, and cannot speak out plainly what is in the mind; it is like the attraction of the sun for the earth, which is strong, yet which leaves immense space between them."

Therefore, when Bhusan loses his money and needs credit, he does have the nerve to ask Mani for her jewels, but she suspects that he will, as she doesn't know her husband very well. Instead of sacrificing her jewelry, she is convinced by her cousin to escape wearing it and is never seen again. The gulf that Bhusan leaves open between him and his wife--arising out of his gentleness--makes her suspicious. In that gulf, she inserts suspicion, and she never understands her husband's true goodness and love. 

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Present a character sketch of Mani from Rabindranath Tagore's "The Lost Jewels" based on the statement, "Mani did not understand Bhusan, that's true."

Mani is described as a selfish woman who only takes from her husband, Bhusan, rather than giving anything in return. The story also describes her as viewing her husband as "a mere machine for turning out her Dacca muslins and her bangles—so perfect a machine, indeed, that never for a single day did she need to oil its wheels." As the story progresses, Tagore also notes that Mani is not overly talkative or social. She tries to avoid interacting with her neighbors and seems unaffected by her isolation. Another notable fact about her character is that she never appears older than sixteen, even after many years had passed. Tagore uses this suspension of youth as a metaphor for Mani's frozen heart.

Tagore also describes Mani as a character who is efficient and dedicated to her work. She does not hire more servants than necessary and she is not "distracted by love." In light of the statement, "Mani did not understand Bhusan, that's true," it is easy to see that her relationship with Bhusan is strained. While he adores her, Mani's selfish character keeps her from being a loving partner and she does not return his affections. For his part, Bhusan's weakness leads him to spoil Mani, which prevents her from growing as a person and as a wife. The statement also serves to illustrate the emotional differences between husband and wife. While Mani does not understand Bhusan's gentle nature, it is clear that he is equally oblivious to her callousness.

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In the story "The Lost Jewels" by Rabindranath Tagore, please give a character analysis of Bhusan and Mani based on the statement, "Mani did not understand her husband, it's true."

In Rabindranath Tagore’s short story “The Lost Jewels,” the narrator hears the story of Bhusan and Mani from a schoolmaster who inhabits the house the couple used to live in. The characterizations of Bhusan and Mani are colored by the perspective of the schoolmaster who criticizes the couple for their modern ways.

The schoolmaster says, “Mani did not understand her husband,” but reveals that really no one did. As the schoolmaster tells the couple’s story, he frequently derides Bhusan for rejecting traditional masculine behavior, especially in his interactions with his wife Mani. He says, “With his college education on the one hand, and on the other his beautiful wife, what chance was there of his preserving our good old traditions in his home?” The schoolmaster attributes Bhusan’s misfortunes in his business and in his family to his embracing of modern civilization and rejection of traditional values. He says Bhusan was “not able to face his wife as easily as most men are,” indicating he does not have the masculine strength and dominance that is typically expected of men in Bengali culture. This relates to the idea that Mani did not understand her husband. The schoolmaster says that Bhusan could not openly speak to his wife about what was on his mind, which contributes to Mani not understanding him. The schoolmaster paints a picture of Bhusan as a spineless husband who should stand up to his wife with anger rather than just distress when she does not want to turn over her jewels, which are needed to bolster the family’s finances.

Mani is depicted as a cold, calculating wife whose beauty causes her to take for granted her doting husband and wealth. Again, the schoolmaster criticizes Mani for not complying with traditional gender roles, saying, “Her woman’s nature became atrophied.” Ironically, he even refers to her as one of her husband’s “possessions,” yet criticizes her for only having love for her own possessions. Mani is described as somewhat of a recluse with a “heart that is an ice-box.” The schoolmaster does praise her for being efficient in work and the operation of the household. However, he attributes this quality to her lack of emotion: “Not being anxious about any one, never being distracted by love, always working and saving, she was never sick nor sorry.” Ultimately, the schoolmaster portrays Mani as an unemotional woman, concerned only with herself and her wealth.

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In Rabindranath Tagore's story "The Lost Jewels," "Mani did not understand Bhusan, it is true." In light of the above statement, how can I analyze the characters of Mani and Bhushan?

The conflict in the schoolmaster's tale is based off the fact that Mani did not understand her husband, Bhusan. It seems this is due more to Bhusan’s non-traditional nature as a man than the typical differences between men and women. We cannot judge their relationship, however, unless we first seek to understand them as individuals.

The schoolmaster presents Bhusan Saha as a very non-traditional Bengali man, too modern for his time. His college education, flawless English, and rejections of tradition made him different from most Bengali men. The true source of Bhusan's troubles with his wife, however, stemmed from his unusually gentle nature with her. He loved his beautiful wife so much that he sought to provide her with whatever she desired--rich clothing and jewelry--without her even needing to ask. When his business began failing, he was extremely reticent in asking Mani for the loan of her jewels. Her angry refusal actually makes him feel guilty for asking. A traditional man of the time would have simply ordered his wife to pass over the jewels (and a traditional woman would have respected that). As the schoolmaster puts it, Bhusan "had not even a trace of that barbarity which is the gift of the male," but instead he was a "harmless and foolish husband" whose modern sensitivity was lost on his wife.

Bhusan’s soft nature simply could not win the love or respect of a beautiful woman who approached marriage with the "unsophisticated instincts which womankind has acquired through ages." Put bluntly, Mani was not modern. When her husband simply gave her all the love and treasures she could desire, she felt cheated out of the romance game. She never got to use her womanly wiles, so she was never "able to pride herself on a victory." As the schoolmaster tells it, without a reason to win Bhusan over, Mani began to take him for granted, and her feminine nature turned cold. She had nobody to love but herself. On top of this, she had a frugal nature that turned to greed as she acquired wealth. Like a spoiled child, she only thought of herself, feeling self-sufficient. Therefore, when Bhusan so delicately suggested his need of her jewels, she went into self-preservation mode. She was incapable of understanding how difficult it was for him to come to her with this matter, plus she was so used to having the power in the relationship that she simply overlooked his need. With such a self-centered view of her marriage, it never occurred to Mani that she could trust Bhusan. She had long since transferred her love to her jewels, symbolizing her beautiful but hardened nature, which she sacrificed her own life to protect.

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In Rabindranath Tagore's "The Lost Jewels," what is the character sketch of Mani based on the statement "Mani did not understand Bhusan, it is true..."?

In the story, Mani is the pampered wife of a wealthy man, Bhusan. Although Mani lives a privileged life, she is vaguely dissatisfied with her marriage. For his part, Bhusan's life of ease seems to have robbed him of an intrinsic and vital part of his manhood.

Mani comes to take Bhusan for granted. She accepts caresses and priceless jewels from her husband with undisguised contempt and little gratitude. Mani does not understand Bhusan; she finds it difficult to relate to his atypically tame nature. There is little sexual attraction between the two.

According to the narrator, Mani's female nature yearns for the novelty of a masculine temperament untouched by modern civilization. He cites Bhusan's relinquishment of his "barbaric nature" as the main reason for Mani's apathy.

"The wife of a man who is, of his own accord, submissive is altogether out of employment. All those weapons which she has inherited from her grandmothers of untold centuries are useless in her hands: the force of her tears, the fire of her anger, and the snare of her glances lie idle."

Mani essentially rejects her husband and creates a separate, dynamic existence for herself within her marriage. She spurns her social obligations and neglects her religious duties:

"Bhusan's wife did not talk very much, nor did she mix much with her neighbors. To feed Brahmans in obedience to a sacred vow, or to give a few pices to a religious mendicant, was not her way."

(Note that the pice is an obsolete Indian denomination from the days of colonial India).

Instead, Mani puts all of her energy into building wealth; since she is "always working and saving," she is never "sick nor sorry." Mani's industry sustains her and preserves her enthusiasm for life. Essentially, she invests in her own happiness and ceases to rely on Bhusan for emotional fulfillment. When Bhusan begins to experience business difficulties, Mani acts to protect her own wealth. She retains Modhu's counsel.

The text tells us that, while Mani may not understand Bhusan, she is familiar with the sort of principles that actuate a man like Modhu. She knows that Modhu is compelled only by his own self-interest. With Modhu's help, Mani makes preparations to transfer all of her jewels to her father's house. Now, here's an interesting quote that explains why the lack of rapport between Mani and Bhusan eventually leads Mani to betray her husband.

"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."

Basically, Mani finds it difficult to "understand" Bhusan because she is operating from a different set of standards regarding gender roles:

"Bhusan, who ought to have been born five or six centuries hence, when the world will be moved by psychic forces, was unfortunate enough not only to be born in the nineteenth century, but also to marry a woman who belonged to that primitive age which persists through all time."

Mani's feminine nature yearns to unite with a primeval masculine nature. She can only understand what she innately believes about gender roles. Because Bhusan's mild nature doesn't fit into her personal narrative about masculinity, Mani rejects her husband. In the story, the narrator tells us that Mani is synonymous with Nitya Kali, a goddess who represents endless time. Basically, the author hints that Mani's lack of understanding stems from her refusal to accept anything other than a primal interpretation of gender roles.

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