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What's the British Empire Got To Do With It?

How the attitudes of The British Empire are reflected in Mr. Know All by Somerset Maugham

Louise Lipert Maery

on 5 January 2014

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Transcript of What's the British Empire Got To Do With It?

What's the British Empire Got To Do With It?

Hong Kong
In Mr. Know All, all the different types of characters that Maugham must have met himself were put together for 14 days on a ship where they must sleep, eat, and socialize together. This way we can see clearly how they act with each other. The Narrator's views on Mr. Kelada were the typical Imperialistic attitudes of the British at that time - suspicion, superiority, and dislike of someone only because of where he was born.
North America
As the British traveled, they saw many new civilizations that they thought were primitive. As a result, not only did they travel to gain wealth and power, but they also felt it was their responsibility to conquer these lands to civilize the people who lived there.
Often, taking over other countries involved killing and brutality. Once under British control, all the best land and riches went to the British. This often left the local population in a terrible state. Nevertheless, the British believed they were doing these countries a favor - by bringing civilization to them.
As early as the 14th century, people from Great Britain began to travel to foreign places. Their goal was to look for riches and to become powerful.
Great Britain
From this, there developed a belief that the British must be superior to other countries. That without their control, these other countries would not survive. They also believed that even if citizens of the British Empire were given British passport, to be truly British meant you had to be born in Great Britain
The Middle East & Africa
Somerset Maugham traveled throughout The British Empire and most of his short stories were based on his experiences. For example, in 1917, he sailed by ship from San Francisco to Tokyo. Sound familiar?
The Carribean
Mr. Kelada is hated even before met anyone, only because of his name. He is described in an unflattering way: a hooked nose, dark skinned, oily hair. He is referred to as the Levantine and his smile is described as being 'oriental.' He is the most hated man on the ship and is made fun of to his face by being called: Mr. Know All.
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