Date of Graduation

5-2016

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Degree Level

Undergraduate

Department

English

Advisor

Marren, Susan

Reader

Quinn, William

Second Reader

Erickson, Kirstin

Third Reader

Goodman-Strauss, Chaim

Abstract

This thesis explores themes of race, gender, and the imperial relationship found in three anti-imperial novels and additional related works. In Joseph Conrad's novella Heart of Darkness the narrator Marlow and, by extension Conrad himself, systematically silences all African and female voices throughout the novel, effectively making Marlow, a white man, the only person capable of speaking about the horrors of imperialism. Marlow abhors the exploitation of imperialism, but admires the "civilizing" idea behind it, making him a problematic representative for anti-imperial sentiment. In E.M. Forster's novel A Passage to India, the main perspective shifts to that of an Indian man, Dr. Aziz, allowing the readers to experience empire from the people who feel it most acutely. Though limited in its depiction of Indian women, Forster's novel makes the strongest anti-imperial statement of the three, with Aziz completely disavowing his friendship with Fielding until the British have left India. George Orwell's Burmese Days, the final novel examined in this paper, creates a gritty image of an empire in decline, where only those who work within empire's corrupt framework can achieve even marginal success. Orwell's protagonist Flory inverts Marlow's sentiments, saying that it is not the exploitation but the imperial idea inherent in empire with which he takes issue. Though each of these works offer flawed depictions of race and gender and qualified anti-imperial stances, all three anticipate the collapse of the British Empire that was to come.

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