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The texts by Orwell, Lessing, Nehru and Chamberlain each present clear arguments about colonialism, arguments that are delivered powerfully by the various techniques employed by each author. Taken collectively, the texts show that colonialism causes poverty and backwardness in the colonized country or countries, and that it brings about various pressures on the colonizer. In all these texts, the era of colonialism is depicted as a period wherein it is the colonizer that is the subject, acting on the colonized – an object that resists understanding and has a mind of its own. Shooting an Elephant” by George Orwell. The argument put forward in this short story is clear.
In the beginning of the story, he already knows that “imperialism was an evil thing. ” In the course of the story, however, this realization becomes more precise: “[W]hen the white man turns tyrant it is his own freedom that he destroys… For it is the condition of his rule that he shall spend his life in trying to impress the ‘natives,’ and so in every crisis he has got to do what the ‘natives’ expect of him. This argument is delivered quite consistently, culminating in Orwell’s act of actually shooting the elephant. The argument is delivered powerfully because the story is about an actual situation in which the argument is demonstrated in the concrete.
“No Witchcraft for Sale” by Doris Lessing. The argument made by Lessing in this story is also clear. In the first parts, this argument was made: “No one can live in Africa… ithout learning very soon that there is an ancient wisdom of leaf and soil and season – and, too, perhaps the most important of all, of the darker tracts of the human mind – which is the black man’s heritage. ” In a succeeding paragraph, this argument was made: “[W]hile all of them knew t hat in the bush of Africa are waiting valuable drugs locked in bark, in simple-looking leaves, in roots, it was always impossible to ever get the truth about them from the natives themselves.
The argument is made consistently. While Gideon did give some plant to the scientist, it is revealed in the end that “the truth” about the healing leaves was not communicated. The argument is delivered powerfully because we are shown a clear example of healing, and then we are shown a story of a Western scientist who failed to understand this healing. “The Noble Mansion of Free India” by Jawaharlal Nehru. The argument made in this speech is clear, consistently asserted throughout the speech.
Nehru draws a portrait of a country that has suffered for such a long time, a country that has succeeded and got an opportunity to move out of that suffering, and a country that is eager to succeed in moving out of that suffering. He declares: “We rejoice in that freedom, even though clouds surround us, and many of our people are sorrow-stricken and difficult problems encompass us. But freedom brings responsibilities and burdens and we have to face them in the spirit of a free and disciplined people. ” The argument is delivered powerfully because the speech is quite consistent on the points it makes. I Believe in a British Empire” by Joseph Chamberlain.
The argument made in this speech is also clear, supported by minor arguments made by the author. Chamberlain argues his case by eliminating other options, choosing what best suits the interest of “a British Empire” he believes in: “I believe in a British Empire, in an Empire which, though it should be its first duty to cultivate friendship with all the nations of the world, should yet, even if alone, be self-sustaining and self-sufficient, able to maintain itself against the competition of all its rivals.
And I do not believe in in a Little England which shall be separated from all those to whom it would in the natural course look for support and affection, a little England which would then be dependent absolutely on the mercy of those who envy its present prosperity… ” The argument is delivered powerfully because the speech consistently argued from the interest of the British Empire at that time. Common Theme or Sentiment About Colonialism. The works show a common theme or sentiment about colonialism.
One gets the sense, specially from Orwell and Chamberlain, that colonialism imposes certain demands on the colonizers – Orwell spells out that from the colonized, Chamberlain, that from the competitors as well. It is clear from all the works that the colonizer always thinks in terms of its own interests, while the colonized is either something foreign that resists understanding, or is eager to achieve its own independence from the colonizer. Colonialism is shown to be a period wherein it is the colonizer that acts and it is the colonized that is the receiver of that action.
In all the works, we are exposed to the backwardness and poverty in which the colonized live. We are given the impression that colonialism dehumanizes both the colonized and the colonizer. These dynamics of colonialism, especially as it relates to literature, is clearly discussed in Edward W. Said’s important work, Orientalism. Commentary. I think that the themes or sentiments shared by the authors, except Chamberlain perhaps, point to arguments that are on the whole true about colonialism.
There are particular features of each text that are worth highlighting: I think that Orwell, while critical of colonialism, reinforces the notion of “White man’s burden” — that the colonizer has a very important mission for the improvement of the colonized. Lessing shows how the colonizer, acting from an understanding different from that of the colonized, becomes a disrespectful, predatory presence in the life of the colonized. Nehru is too nice towards the colonize in his speech, enumerating the social effects of colonialism yet refusing to blame these on the colonizer.
Chamberlain acts out from the particular interests and perspective of the colonizer. In making this paper, I realized how important it is to view things from the perspectives of various texts – more significantly, how important it is to have a general understanding (of colonialism, in this case) that locates the particular perspectives. From such a general understanding, one can make sense of the various perspectives, as well as get a general idea of how colonialism was actually experienced by those who lived through it. I appreciated the guide question, having brought out the common theme and sentiment in these texts.