On Personality and Tagore

by Nic Olson

“We may or may not be able to save him,” I said; “but if we should perish in the attempt to save the country from the thousand-and-one snares – of religion, custom and selfishness – which these people are busy spreading, we shall at least die happy.”

‘Nikhil’, Rabindranath Tagore, The Home and the World, p136

Every personality test needs to have a question regarding the participant’s belief in personality tests in general. I feel like the answer to this question would greatly affect the results of the test. Like if a lie detector test asked if the person had ever told a lie before. Or if a Cosmopolitan Magazine love test asked if the reader thinks so low of themselves to actually complete a love test in full. One question is all it takes to avoid the myriads of others.

I took a personality test in French class, another way for the teacher to avoid teaching for a day, and so the un-hireables could see what is wrong with them in the glamourous world of second language job searching. I found that I am a scientist that wants to save the doomed world and write a book while doing it, basically. I wonder if my French personality is different than my English personality. At the end, the thirty something year old conductor of the test, complete with magnifying glass for his unnaturally poor eyesight for his age, showed us job postings that related with our three letter personality code. There was three jobs for my I-P-Z or something, a little too close to HPV, while everyone else’s three letter code produced hundreds of job opportunities. Another revelation of my un-hireability.

Before the results were given, we were to guess what our three letter code would be through a brief description of each grouping. I chose basically the exact opposite of what I ended up being. Good thing I don’t believe in generic personality groupings. If I did I would be a worried man, likely a textbook case of group E.

If fictional characters could take a psychologist’s test of real life, I would nominate the three main characters of Rabindranath Tagore’s book, ‘The Home and the World‘. Sandip, Nikhil and Bimala would be three examples of extreme personalities. The entire novel I found myself agreeing with the temperament of Nikhil, but through rereading passages that I highlighted throughout the book, the words of Sandip, a man opposite to Nikhil, were just as striking. Sandip talked of passion, Nikhil of restraint.

Just like I chose the wrong three letters before the test results were handed out, I struggle to choose between the ideals of two completely opposite characters in a book I found truly significant. I am glad to realize that I don’t know who I am at the age of twenty-two, instead of when most people find it out, coincidentally just before their mid-life crisis.

Real personality tests can be done through reading decent literature and multi-dimensional characters and a real story. We don’t need a blind thirty-year old to tell us that we are all going to be searching for the rest of our lives. We’ve got psychological, Nobel Prize winning authors to do that for us. Thanks anyways.

‘Passion,’ I replied, ‘is the street lamp which guides us. To call it untrue is as hopeless as to expect to see better by plucking out our natural eyes.’

‘Sandip’, Rabindranath Tagore, The Home and the World, p60