The Postmaster


Rabindranath Tagore

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Themes and Colors
Gender, Class, and Inequality Theme Icon
Melancholy and the Sublime Natural World Theme Icon
Urban and Rural Life Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in The Postmaster, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.

Gender, Class, and Inequality

Rabindranath Tagore’s “The Postmaster” explores the fraught relationship between a postmaster stationed in the fictional Bengal village of Ulapur, and a servant girl, Ratan, who assists him with household work. Ratan is an orphan and of a lower class than the postmaster, who—though not wealthy—holds significant power over Ratan and benefits from liberty she lacks. The postmaster could provide Ratan with the education and financial support she needs to flee her lower-class life, but…

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Melancholy and the Sublime Natural World

Tagore’s story derives much of its emotional depth from lush, elaborate depictions of the natural world, which becomes a source of both melancholy and artistic inspiration for the postmaster (who, like Tagore himself, writes poetry). The rural Bengal landscape, often soaked with rain, seems to symbolize the postmaster’s own sense of confinement in the village. Yet the landscape is equally instilled with intense emotion and a sense of the sublime. While the postmaster…

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Urban and Rural Life

By returning to the city of Calcutta at the end of the story, the postmaster rejects rural life and affirms the superiority of urbanity. His dissatisfaction with his surroundings and the people with whom he interacts demonstrates an implicit, irreconcilable division between city and country, or urban and remote village life. Written at a time when India, under Britain’s colonial command, was moving tentatively toward modernization, “The Postmaster” seems to function as an appeal for…

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