Tagore’s Red Oleanders

Rabindranath Tagore

Rabindranath Tagore (7 May 1861 – 7 August 1941) was a poet, artist, educator, philosopher and humanitarian.

•Even though he often introduced himself as “Āmi Kobi,” or “I’m a poet,” he contributed extensively to various genres of writing, such as novels, short stories, plays, dance-dramas and essays.

•Composed roughly 2,230 songs and his writings address a variety of topics.

• In 1913 he became the first non-European to receive the Nobel Prize for literature.

•In 1915, he was knighted by the George V, King of the United Kingdom and Emperor of India, but he later renounced the knighthood as a protest against the 1919 Jaliānwala Bāgh massacre.

•His songs, Jana Gana Mana and Amar Śonar Bangla, later became the national anthems for India and Bangladesh respectively.


•Rakta Karabi first appeared in Prabasi– a Bengali magazine- in 1924 and in the same year the poet himself translated the play titled Red Oleanders and was published in the Visvabharati Quarterly.

•Red Oleanders was regarded a disaster by the Western critics.

•Indian life, philosophy, religion etc created a communication gap between the writer and Western readers.


•The play is the most mobilizing instrument for counter attack on post colonial society, and the by-product of the modern materialistic system.

•Nandini, the protagonist marks her presence at a time of the oppression of humanity by greed and power. The antagonist is the King, who stands for absolute authority but hides himself behind an iron curtain.

Red Oleanders is one of the sixty plays by Rabindranath Tagore.

•A play about evil and good, about greed and human sympathy, which separates and keeps fellow begins together.

•Story of Nandini who frees the oppressed souls of soulless mining Yaksha town where people forget the beauty of nature, the green meadows, the dazzling sunshine, the tenderness and love between humans.

•Nandini represents human virtue.

•The King transforms the town into a fort and humans are reduced to digging machines who search for gold in the dark – larger public including Nikhil ( the person Nandini loves ) were forced to fulfill the selfish motives of the King and the prople associated with him.

•Digging gold in darkness – Greedy persons will end up in darkness.

•Mining town of Yaksh is a dull place- people have forgotten the beauty of nature and the importance of love for one another – significant issues about where the society is heading.

•The play not only foresees ecological imbalance but also points out some aspects of urban industrial environment.

•The play not only foresees ecological imbalance but also points out some aspects of urban industrial environment.

•The transformation of the King which is the central theme of the drama symbolizes by action-reaction relationship between Nandini and the King.

• The King ultimately emerges as a symbol of human creativity turned perverse.

• He has all the power that human civilization has generated but this power has turned dead and perverse.

•The first three scenes could be taken as exposition scenes, which establish the situation, the level of action and the dramatic mode of the play. •Red Oleanders is described as a ‘a drama in one act’- , a form of play with certain distinctive features like one situation, one theme, a few characters.


•Imagery is the use of pictures or words to create images, especially to create an impression on mood.

•The wall symbolizes the distances that are built between the rich and the poor of the society.

•Yaksha Town is the first imagery used in the play- before the play was written existed a God Kuber who had tremendous amount of gold – Yaksha town digs Gold mine- Kuber’s servants were known an Yakshas.


•Symbols are objects, characters, figures, and colors used to represent abstract ideas or concepts.

•Nandini, Ranjan, Kishore, Bishu and the rest symbolizes the human characteristics like delight, sovereignty, independence, self determination love etc.

•The king is the symbol for absolute greed and dominant. The network of walls between the king and Nandini are the social distances between common folk and nobility,which does not hold any importance other than material possession.

•Yaksha town symbolizes an exploited ecosystem and illusory choice.


•Portrays a reality of the modern world.

• The king is an example of the revolution of industries and modern day advancement.

•The king keeps building and expanding his rein with modern advancement and buildings without any thought for nature and the people affected.

•This can be referred to the modern world Clearly as to how industries and government destroy nature without any notice.

•Nandini’s fight portrays women power and how affective it can be.

•Nandini stands and fights one target at a time, this also give us a message that you should always start with a goal in order to achieve a dream.

•This story about “Red Oleanders” portrays the way the world is going and how it works.

•Red Oleanders also carry similarity and bring together to a very well known work of literature in the Indian culture Mahabharata.

•The most evident similarities start with the resemblance that Nandini bears with Draupadi, the lead female character of the Mahabharata.