Dungeon, Rabindranath: Summary & Analysis

"Dungeon" by Rabindranath Tagore is a reflective and introspective poem that delves into the theme of self-enclosure and the loss of one's true identity in the pursuit of self-image and reputation. Through vivid metaphorical language and introspective musings, the poem explores the consequences of building walls around oneself to create a facade that conforms to societal expectations. The poem carries a message of self-awareness and the need to break free from self-imposed limitations to rediscover one's authentic self.

"Dungeon" by Rabindranath Tagore

He whom I enclose with my name is weeping in this dungeon.
I am ever busy building this wall all around; and as this wall goes up into
the sky day by day I lose sight of my true being in its dark shadow.
I take pride in this great wall, and I plaster it with dust and sand
lest a least hole should be left in this name;
and for all the care I take I lose sight of my true being.


"Dungeon" reflects the speaker's contemplation of the self-imposed confinement created by the need to build a social identity and reputation. The poem uses metaphorical language to convey the idea that the speaker has enclosed their true self within a self-constructed "dungeon." The speaker acknowledges that they are constantly occupied with building a facade and reputation, represented by the wall that rises day by day. However, the more the wall is built, the more the speaker loses sight of their true identity, which becomes obscured in the shadow of the constructed persona. The speaker admits to taking pride in this facade, but the act of constructing it also results in losing touch with their authentic self.

Critical Analysis

The poem offers a profound exploration of the conflict between self-image and authentic self.

The metaphor of the "dungeon" represents the self-imposed confinement and the sense of entrapment created by constructing an external persona.

The imagery of the "wall all around" that rises into the sky suggests the expansive and all-encompassing nature of the constructed facade.

The concept of losing sight of one's "true being" emphasizes the idea that the pursuit of reputation and conformity leads to detachment from one's authentic identity.

The juxtaposition of "dust and sand" being plastered onto the wall highlights the impermanent and fragile nature of the constructed self-image.

The phrase "for all the care I take I lose sight of my true being" underscores the irony that the more one invests in the construction of an identity, the further they drift from their genuine self.


  • Self-Identity vs. Social Image: The poem explores the tension between one's authentic self and the constructed persona built for social recognition and conformity.
  • Loss of Authenticity: The poem conveys the idea that the pursuit of a constructed identity results in the loss of one's true essence and authenticity.
  • Consequences of Conformity: The poem highlights the negative consequences of conforming to societal expectations and compromising one's genuine identity.


  • Reflection: The poem reflects the speaker's introspective thoughts and contemplation of the conflict between their authentic self and the constructed facade.
  • Irony: The poem conveys a sense of irony in the fact that the more the speaker invests in constructing their image, the more they lose touch with their true identity.

Literary Devices

  • Metaphor: The metaphor of the "dungeon" and the "wall" is central to the poem's exploration of self-enclosure and the loss of authenticity.
  • Imagery: The imagery of the wall rising into the sky and the plastering of "dust and sand" adds depth to the portrayal of the constructed facade.

Discussion Question

How does "Dungeon" by Rabindranath Tagore explore the theme of self-enclosure and the loss of authentic identity in the pursuit of reputation and conformity? How does the poem use metaphorical language and imagery to convey the consequences of constructing a social persona?

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