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England and Its Colonies in The Moonstone (by Wilkie Collins) - Term Paper Example

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Student Full Name Professor Course Date Submitted England and Its Colonies in Wilkie Collins’s The Moonstone The Moonstone (1868) is among Collins’ well-recognised four best-known works together with The Woman in White (1860), No Name (1862), and Armadale (1866)…
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England and Its Colonies in The Moonstone (by Wilkie Collins)
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Download file to see previous pages Eliot’s comment: “The first and greatest of English detective novels... a genre invented by Collins and not by Poe” (310). Rarely has the novel been thematically known exposing British colonial relations with India. John Reed first paid attention to this in his 1973 seminal essay, “English Imperialism and the Unacknowledged Crime of The Moonstone,” where he argued that, what the novel probes is, actually, not the personal but the national guilt, neither is the individual but national values. Meaning, the novel does not simply uncover a personal crime, but rather the social crime of imperial British against its subjected race, India. (qtd. in Sabin 89) On the contrary, Ashish Roy sees the novel essentially defending British imperialism by showing that good Victorians, like Lady Verinder, never condone such violent abuses. (qtd. in Sabin 89) Nayder somewhat supports Roy’s contrary view, saying that, though The Moonstone evidently proves that Victorian detective fiction investigates socio-political issues from imperialism to class and gender relations, its investigation usually ends up blurring the guilt or crime of British imperialists, while putting the colonised race into negative light (184). For example, Blake, Murthwaite, Bruff and Sgt. Cuff, though, had wrongly accused the Brahmans of stealing the moonstone; nevertheless, the Brahmans had been portrayed ruthless killers in the novel. Likewise, Trollope suggests that The Moonstone’s diamond mystery actually shrouded rather than exposed Britain’s real interest in India which is not simply India’s wealth but its land (qtd. in Daly 66). Britain wants to possess India for its territorial expansion, and not to simply loot its wealth. Whether, for or against, the theme of British imperialism is evident in the novel’s texts. Moreover, Spivak noted that, it would be impossible reading the 19th century British literature without taking into account British imperialism, which England made its noble mission to society, because that was the very social context with which authors create their imagination (qtd. in Jolly 381). Thus, understanding Collins’s work from this perspective would not be irrelevant. As Nayder explains, authors of Victorian detective fiction thematically make use of crime and policing to subtly examine broader social issues (178). Looking through The Moonstone’s plot, theme, symbolisms, characterisation, and literary technique, the novel evidently fits this description. The novel is not simply a detective or a romance-detective fiction; imbedded in its intricate plots of crime investigation is the exposition of British imperialism, mainly demonstrated in a master/superior (English) – subject/inferior (Indian) relationship. A. The Novel 1. Backgrounder The Moonstone, which Collins had started by mid-1867 in his mid-forties, was his fourth but also his last best novel. After this, his succeeding works were considered either mediocre or failure; such was attributed to his deteriorating health condition at that time. (Page 20) Significantly so, he wrote The Moonstone at the most pressing time of his life: His most beloved mother got sick and died while he was painfully suffering from his worst attack of rheumatic gout, disenabling him to attend his mother’s funeral. But against all these, he had to keep writing; much has yet to be written for the magazines, All the Year Round (England) and Harper’s Weekly (USA), which had started serialising The Moonstone, not to mention his ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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