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The Secret of England's Greatness - Essay Example

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The researcher of this essay aims to analyzes Thomas Jones Barker’s painting The Secret of Englands Greatness. It would have inspired British citizens to feel pride, but might have intimidated a minority living in Victorian Britain concerning the British Empire. …
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The Secret of Englands Greatness
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Thomas Jones Barker’s painting The Secret of Englands Greatness would have inspired British citizens to feel pride, but might have intimi d a minority living in Victorian Britain concerning the British Empire. Although slavery had been abolished before Queen Victoria ascended to the throne, Victorian Britain had gender and racial classes. Both types of people living in Victorian Britain would never imagine the switching of the positions of the two central figures. Queen Victoria was a woman, but she was a white woman. British masculinity is inserted by the presence of her husband and male advisors. This painting does correspond with the readings of this week.
Victorian Britain had a gender and racial class system. Just like the royal and commoner class, the British felt white men were superior to women and people of color. Jews, Africans, and other conquered people fit this label. Although a woman could gain the throne and rule, she had to have advisors. Queen Elizabeth I never married because she would have had to defer to a husband. Queen Victoria was greatly influenced by Prince Albert. It was presumed that a woman could not rule without a man’s influence. Women were delicate and inferior to a man. This did not change for even the Queen of England.
Citizens of Victorian Britain would have been proud of Barker’s painting The Secret of Englands Greatness. The perceived superiority of the English people is very present in this picture. One English woman, even though she was queen, was more superior to the highest African male. This made British citizens proud. Thompson (2012:148) reports “where colonizers and colonized were seen as members of one imperial family. This family was represented particularly through the figure of a Queen or King in celebrations.” As part of the Queen and King’s family every British citizen was superior to an African chieftain.
Natives or minorities in Victorian Britain would have felt apprehensive about Barker’s painting. If the highest African male was not even equal to a mere woman, minorities would feel inferior to their British counterparts. The British tended to advocate this position by labeling newly conquered peoples. Salesa (2011:11) suggests that colonized individuals were lumped into groups labeled ‘natives’ or ‘aborigines’ in order to maintain superiority toward the native populations. Even after a native or aborigine came to England they were still inferior. Education, gender, or any other factor did not matter. If an individual was not British white, they were less than a mere British woman.
Barker’s painting The Secret of Englands Greatness shows Prince Albert and several male advisors looking on in a protective manner. This relates two things to the view. The first is Queen Victoria had to be protected from an African male. Secondly, Queen Victoria could not protect herself from an African male. The first insinuates that African males were savages that wanted to rape or kill a white woman. It never occurs to the Queen’s advisors or husband that the African Chieftain was professing loyalty to the Queen willingly. The second was Queen Victoria would have been helpless in the event of an attack. Her protectors had to be in the room right upon the duo in order for her to be safe. Even though Queen Victoria was a hefty woman, she herself would never have dreamed to defend herself from an attack. All of these concepts kept the class system going in Victorian Britain. The class system was real. It supports all of the text readings of this week.
Thomas Jones Barker’s painting The Secret of Englands Greatness inspired a great feeling of pride for white British citizens. It helped keep the natives or minorities feeling inferior to their British counterparts. If an African Chieftain was less than a woman, even the queen, Africans must be inferior. Victorian Britain had gender and racial classes that must be upheld. No one living in Victorian Britain would imagine the switching of the positions of the two central figures in Thomas Jones Barker’s painting The Secret of Englands Greatness. Queen Victoria was a white woman, which meant she was superior to an African male. British masculinity inserted by the presence of her husband and male advisors kept women in their place. This painting matches with the readings of this week.
Bibliography
Barker, T.J. (1863). The secret of Englands greatness.
Salaesa, D.I. (2011). Racial crossings: Race, intermarriage, and the Victorian British
Empire (Oxford Historical Monographs). USA: Oxford University Press.
Thompson, A. (2012). Britains experience of empire in the twentieth century. USA:
Oxford University Press. Read More
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