An Analysis of The Hungry Stone By Rabindranath Tegore as a Romantic Story




The Hungry Stone is a romantic tale of wonder and mystery. 
Salient features of romanticism in The Hungry Stone.

The Hungry Stone is a romantic tale impressing us by bold invention and appealing to that taste for the supernatural. Spectral and mysterious as the atmosphere of the story is, it is made to look credible. Tagore affects this with the help of lovely strokes of the brush. Realistic descriptions of nature, little human touches here and there, and interposition of day and night – all these produce an effect of probability on the mind and make us feel the hard earth beneath our feet. Tagore has succeeded in effecting an organic blend between the natural and the supernatural and rousing us up to the sublimity and intangibility of an ethereal terror that enchants rather than repels.


All of the characteristics for which Romanticism stands are found in Tagore’s Hungry Stone. Being a supernatural story it is interested in the supernatural and the mysterious. But the story is replete with the medieval imaginative faculty and nature imagery. It has also deep human interest with an originality of thought. There is ‘magic of distance’ which fascinates us in the story. The spirit of adventure, duels and voyages over unchartered deserts offer a storehouse of fascination for us. The narrow unlit alleyways of the sleeping city of Baghdad on a dark night as well as the entire tales of the thousand and one Nights are transported here in the imagination of us. The nature through the mountain Aravallis and river Shusta is further taken in the widest possible connotation.




            All of the characteristics for which Romanticism stands are found in Tagore’s Hungry Stone. Being a supernatural story it is interested in the supernatural and the mysterious. But the story is replete with the medieval imaginative faculty and nature imagery. It has also deep human interest with an originality of thought. There is ‘magic of distance’ which fascinates us in the story. The spirit of adventure, duels and voyages over unchartered deserts offer a storehouse of fascination for us. The narrow unlit alleyways of the sleeping city of Baghdad on a dark night as well as the entire tales of the thousand and one Nights are transported here in the imagination of us. The nature through the mountain Aravallis and river Shusta is further taken in the widest possible connotation.

            No writer can write in a vacuum or in a void. Thus there is an abundance of imagery of nature, which creates a concrete and vivid picture for the story. Predominant is the imagery of natural objects, natural phenomena, and natural processes: and this imagery is perfectly vivid so that as if we have been transported to the countryside beneath a range of lonely mountains; sometimes we are transported to the fast flowing river Shusta, and even to the sky and the stars and the moon. Barich is a lonely location. The Shusta here chatters over story ways and babbles on the pebbles, tripling like a skillful dancing rill, in through the woods below the lonely hills. In the place there is clear water of the reservoirs where wind plays a trick to music. The Shusta, which ripples and curls, is like a Nymph. The song of bulbuls form the cages in the corridor, the cackle of storks in the gardens – all create a strange unearthly music for the cotton collector. These fascinate a tale of Persian maiden who had been abducted by Bedouin raider and thrown into the harem of limitless wealth and perpetual imprisonment. The sweet snatches of songs and music, the quaint drama of Arabian night and the legend of the middle age are given the required vilification by Tagore. The nature formulates a dream of fantasy. The minutest details of colours, shades and music remind us of Morris’ Earthly Paradise or Swinburne’s The Garden of Prosperpine.


            The Hungry Stone has overtones of medievalism and the Persian Lady is perpetually trapped in the huge Mansion built by Shah Mahmud II. Like Christabel or the Lady of shallot she is mysteriously cursed by Fate to live a hopeless life imprisonment. It is her insatiable desires that make the place thirsty and hungry. The story, however, continually contrast the active and external mansion and the surrounded nature with the contemplative and withdrawn cotton collector. Even though we think that with an exact fidelity of nature the cotton collector conveys his vision, we cannot determine who is hungry – stones of the man? The human heart, though it is never conscious of the futility of desire and knows full well that the path of love is beset with gains and pitfalls can never rest satisfied with vague dreams and fanciful ideals. It must have something real, some things tangible, for which it must ultimately lose itself. The whole story might be the alter ego of cotton collector’s unfulfilled desire.

            The story is a colourful painting of the hills, palace, days and nights. Here we see most rich word painting. Throughout the story, the mood of Nature harmonizes with the mood of man. The story is further circular in nature alike Coleridge's poem The Ancient Marriner. The story is at once a brief focus on the split personality and adjoining psychological analysis. It is farther pictorial, sensuous, and graceful.  

            The Hungry Stone truly defines romanticism as ‘strangeness added to beauty’. Here is effusion of beauty. It is sensuous, impassioned and associated with mysterious supernatural powers. The story can be the best of the genre and can be compared to the best The Lady in the Square by Sir Walter Scott or The Tell Tale Heart by Edgar Allen Poe etc.
              
Hi Friends!

For proper understanding of this short story just follow the guidelines:
1.Take an in-depth study of Tegore's Writing particularly of Short stories.
2.His blend of romanticism and super-naturalism can be comparatively understood 
  from others' writings particularly of Poe and Coleridge.
3. Originally it was written in Bengali and two or three English translations are available.
   Read all of them if possible.        
                                                                                                                                      

Ardhendu De 

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An English Teacher;    M. A.(English) , D. Ed., B. Ed., UGC- NET Qualified

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