Kaustav Bakshi remarks that Tagore defamiliarises the image of a widow in the persona of Binodini. She is depicted as sharp, instinctive and passionate. Through the novel, Tagore seems to portray the natural yet socially forbidden desire of a widow ironically called Binodini – which is a name that often recurs in Vaishnav Kirtan connoting ‘sensuousness and pleasure loving’.
She is a rare combination of beauty, grace and intelligence. There is a certain ease and spontaneity with which she carries herself and caters to the need of the people in Rajlakshmi’s household. She is a traditional woman in the sense that she is well accomplished in household arts and has the attributes associated with womanhood such as selfless devotion and sacrificial spirit.
The process of self realisation in Binodini follows a sequential pattern. She moves from a traditional acceptance of her fate as a widow to a realisation of her need to arise out of this blind acceptance and reaffirm her identity in society. Being an educated woman, her feelings and her outlook to life are characterised by a spirit of modernism.
Binodini believes that the only person responsible for her being a young widow was Mahendra who rejected her as his bride even without seeing her. Overcome by a sense of vengeance, she resolves to avenge her humiliation by ensnaring Mahendra in her web of seduction. It is her consuming passion that lends a remarkable human touch to her personality and makes her self-effacement, more significant.
The second stage in Binodini’s progression is when her insight and intellect come into play. She does not reciprocate the love shown to her by Mahendra as she believes that he is a selfish man who loves neither his wife nor her but only himself. She replies contemptuously to a letter written by the Mahendra:
I have no right to love or be loved in this world. That is why I play at love to lighten my sorrow….I implore you again and again, please give me up, do not pester me, do not put me to shame with your shamelessness…You may shout and cry, but from me you will get no response whatsoever. (147)
As soon as she realizes that this love game is killing her inner self, she decides to leave Mahendra’s house emphasizing her power as decision maker.