Rabindranath Tagore: Short Stories

Rabindranath Tagore: Short Stories Irony

The Doctor's Apology (Dramatic Irony)

In “Thoughtlessness,” we see the Doctor apologize to two people. First, he apologizes to Harinath for impoverishing his friend for the sake of having enough money for Sashi’s dowry. Later, the Doctor apologizes to the Inspector for lashing out at him about his greed. Both apologies elicit ironies central to the story’s plot. The first shows the Doctor losing the thing he considered most valuable in the wake of trying to increase his wealth at his friend’s expense, and the second shows a society where the moral person is forced to apologize to the greedy profiteers who are in positions of power and can profit off misery with impunity.

“Kadambini had proved, by dying, that she had not died.” (Dramatic Irony)

Throughout "The Living and the Dead" Tagore makes us question whether Kadambini is, in fact, alive as she believes herself to be, or a ghost like all the people she interacts with believe she is. The end of the story proves conclusively that she was alive, and ironically so. The only proof that she had life to lose was by throwing herself into the well, thereby taking her own life and enacting a second, final death.

Taraprasanna's Fame (Situational Irony)

The title "Taraprasanna's Fame" refers to an odd, ironic fame, by which all of the literary critics love his unintelligible book while just about no one buys it. The irony is partly rooted in the fact that Taraprasanna and his wife are convinced that the book will make them rich, and while he returns to her with piles of letters and good reviews, he also shows up with empty pockets. Critical praise and public success are not the same thing.

"To hell with him" (Verbal Irony)

The final line in "Punishment" is uttered by Chandara, when she is preparing to be hanged for a murder she did not commit. A doctor asks her if she would like to see her husband, who blamed her for the murder to protect his brother, but Chandara says "to hell with him." It doesn't quite translate, but in the original Bengali, the phrase is used ironically to indicate that Chandara is still deeply in love with her husband, and that this outcome pains her regardless of the spite she is feeling towards him.