Portrayal of women through the eyes of Rabindranath Tagore | The Daily Star
11:24 AM, May 08, 2021 / LAST MODIFIED: 02:52 PM, May 08, 2021

Portrayal of women through the eyes of Rabindranath Tagore

In many of his stories, Rabindranath Tagore brought strong and progressive women to the forefront, who defied conventional expectations, and questioned perceptions that challenged their freedom. On Tagore’s 160th birth anniversary, we look back at some of the most memorable female characters from his stories.

Mrinmayi from Samapti

The free-spirited Mrinmayi grows up climbing trees and playing with the boys in her village. She defies the conventional ideas of femininity and questions the lack of choice faced by women. Tagore's Mrinmayi is a woman who disregards the traditional concept of marriage and takes her own time to adjust to a new setting.

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Binodini from Chokher Bali

A story of distrust and lies, "Chokher Bali" highlights the dictatorship of a patriarchal society, where young girls are married off to much older men, and left to become widows at an early age. Binodini challenges the norms as a widow, by questioning the restrictions that follows the death of her husband. She disregards the monotony of an inauspicious widow's life and begins exploring her emotional and physical desires. Through Binodini, Tagore also highlighted the power of education and how it can be used to eradicate societal negligence.

Mrinal from Strir Patra

Mrinal leaves behind the house of her regressive in-laws in search of independence. Unlike her elder sister-in-law, her educational background equips her with the inspiration to question everyday instances of patriarchy. In a letter to her husband, Mrinal recalls her conjugal journey and regrets the loss of her self-esteem. Through Mrinal, Tagore highlighted how a woman should be free to make her own choices.

Kalyani from Aparichita

After her marriage is called off, Kalyani decides to remain unmarried for the rest of her life. She spends her time educating underprivileged women while shattering the patriarchal standards that control their lives. On being asked to remarry, she refuses to let go of her goals, and chooses independence. Kalyani represents women who fearlessly chase their dreams instead of being bogged down by external factors. 

Labanya from Shesher Kobita

The strong-willed Labanya falls in love with the Oxford graduate, Amit. As their story progresses, she begins to question the idea of marriage being the ultimate goal of romantic relationships. Labanya has a clear perception about her identity and consent, through which she addresses the stark differences between her and Amit. Tagore's "Shesher Kobita", challenges the concept of arranged marriages and explores the different dynamics of human relationships, through a feminist protagonist.


The author is a freelance journalist who likes reading, planning, and scribbling. Write to her at mislammonamee@gmail.com.

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