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The Postcolonial Times

World Literature Studies 2310 Final Project 28 Apr. 2015

Pamela Mattes

on 29 April 2015

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Transcript of The Postcolonial Times

We have studied various literary works which are synonymous with postcolonial literature. Each piece is different in it own right and contains one or more of the common post colonial elements within the literature. Some pieces are stronger examples of postcolonial literature than others. We will discuss the novels, short stories, and poetry that has been reviewed in our class to determine which is the best example of "literature as mediator".
Postcolonial Theory in Literature
The Epic of Gilgamesh
Short Stories
The Epic of Gilgamesh is earliest work of literature dating back to 2100 BC.

The Epic follows Gilgamesh the King of Uruk who is two thirds God and one third man. Gilgamesh is a cruel and powerful leader who abuses his strength to take what he wants. When his best friend Enkidu is killed he begins to question his own mortality. After a long unfruitful quest for eternal youth, Gilgamesh returns home to Uruk to see the city he had mistreated and decides to change his ways because even though he is not immortal his legacy will live on forever.

The Epic contains elements of identity, and power as Gilgamesh abuses the people of Uruk and then questions his mortality.
Heart of Darkness is a novella that tells a story from the eyes of both a narrator and Marlow, a ship captain, working for a Belgium company seeking to secure their spot in the Congo for trade. Marlow begins a journey to locate Kurtz in the Congo. When he locates Kurtz he finds that he had changed. He was no longer bound by any of the rules of normal civilization he was now savage living as he saw fit. When Kurtz was passing away on his way back home to civilization he muttered the last words "The horror! The horror!" (Conrad). Marlow was left in a quiet contemplation after all the darkness he had witnessed in the Congo.

The novella represents postcolonial theory as it is full of moments of imperialism when the British are moving into take the Congo. Kurtz uses power to help him rule within the Congo, and Marlow questions his identity while learning of all the horrors in the Congo as he encounters Kurtz.
The Hanging
is a short story written by George Orwell about the hanging of a prisoner. The prisoner is not given a name nor is his crime mentioned but the story describes the feelings and experiences of the guards and the people surrounding the prison and hanging.

While the story displays some evidence of a power theme, the story is too short and lacks details surrounding the events occurring outside of the prison yard which prevents the reader from understanding any additional post colonial elements that may be occurring.
Tuesday, April 28, 2015
Vol XCIII, No. 311
What is Postcolonial Theory?
Postcolonial theory is the study of the results after a period of colonialism on a society. Providing critical responses to the power, culture, identity, colonial changes that arise as a result of colonization and imperialism.

Studying postcolonial theory is typically done through the use of specific critical lenses when reading postcolonial literature.

Postcolonial lenses

We study postcolonialism to learn where we came from and to understand why culture and society has adapted in a certain way. If we can learn from the past, we can have a better understanding to move into the future.

The White Man's Burden
is a poem about imperialism. A call to arms telling people they must ready for taking on the "burden" of colonizing and taking over other lands which must be done as they do not yet belong to the "white man".

The poem reflects postcolonial issues as it mentions being prepared for ruling other lands. Colonizing and taking what is not ours by force and making it our own.

Postcolonial Theory
Guest of the Nation
is a short story about Irish soldiers who make friends with some Englishmen which they were guarding. They soon come to the realization that they are hostages which are due for execution as retaliation for the English killing some Irishmen. The Irish soldiers must battle internal struggles on whether is it humane to kill their friends when they did not personally do anything wrong or if this was just war and an acceptable response to the killing of the Irish by the English.

The story shows imperialism with the two cultures, Irish and English battling. It also brings in an identity theme as the Irish solders look inside themselves to determine if killing friends is something they can live with.
Architect of the Capitol. Colonization of New England. Digital image. Architect of the Capitol Information Webpage. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Apr. 2015. <http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Colonization_of_New_England.jpg>.
Unknown Artists. The Conquest of Tenochtitlán. Digital image. LOC.Gov. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Apr. 2015. <http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/kislak/kislak-exhibit.html>.
The Tempest
is believed to be one of Shakespeare's final plays. The play tells a tale of Prospero the duke of Milan. Prospero is usurped by his brother Antonio when he starts neglecting his duties as duke and pays more attention to his magic studies. He and his daughter, Miranda, are put out to sea and arrive on an island where Prospero uses his magic to coax people into helping him obtain his power as duke back from his brother. In the process of obtaining his position back, Prospero is also able to secure a place for Miranda as the wife of Ferdinand the prince of Naples.

While I don't believe this play is a good representation of postcolonial theory, one could argue that Prospero "colonized" the island and demonstrated power to achieve his goals in the play.

Waterhouse, J. W. Miranda - The Tempest. Digital image. Http://www.johnwilliamwaterhouse.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Apr. 2015. <http://www.johnwilliamwaterhouse.com/pictures/miranda-tempest-1916/>.

Heart of Darkness
The Tempest
Best Example of "Literature as 'Mediator'"
Now that we have reviewed all the postcolonial literature that was covered this term, it is easy to see that the best example of 'literature as mediator' is Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness. The novella is long enough to be able to provide all aspects of post colonial theory. The story draws from actual events which makes the themes more apparent. After reading the novella, I felt like I had a better grasp of what postcolonialism means and that is why I feel this work is the best example of postcolonial literature.
Least Useful Postcolonial Reference
I feel the least useful reference is George Orwell's The Hanging. While several pieces of literature did not seem to have a strong connection to postcolonialism, The Hanging was my selection for least useful as we spent a lot of time dissecting this piece and it did not hold a strong enough postcolonial theme. George Orwell did not include enough detail in the short story to understand the type of colonialism occurring outside of the prison. The piece would have been stronger had Orwell include more of what was happening in Burma at that time.
The Patriot
is a poem written by NIssim Ezekiel in 1982. The poem addresses his concern for the world fighting. He feels the people whould be following the actions of Mahatma Gandhi but Modern generations are not listening.

The poem stands for peace and addresses power as a postcolonial element. Instead of using power people should be living in peace.
High Treason
is a poem about a man who not love the country in which he lives in. He explains that although he does not love his country there are somethings and people inside the country for which he would give his life for.

The poem is about not having to like the big picture, it's the small things that matter. While I agree with the message behind the poem, I did not detect any postcolonial elements. The same message can be given without regards to colonization.
Pam Mattes
Kelly Wiechart
ENGL 2310 World Literature Studies
28 April 2015
Works Cited

Chakal, Igor. Heart of Darkness Illustration 3. Digital image. IgorChakal.Deviantart.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Apr. 2015. <http://igorchakal.deviantart.com/art/Heart-of-Darkness-Illustration-3-412537134>.
The Hanging
Guest of the Nation
The White Man's Burden
The Patriot
High Treason
Conrad, Joseph. “Heart of Darkness.” Project Gutenberg. EBook #526. N.p., 9 Jan. 2006. Web. 14 Apr. 2015. <http://www.gutenberg.org/cache/epub/526/pg526-images.html>.
The Epic of Gilgamesh. : Assyrian International News Agency, n.d. PDF file. <http://www.aina.org/books/eog/eog.pdf>.
Ezekiel, Nissim. “The Patriot.” . N.p., 1982. Web. 26 Apr. 2015. <https://blackboard.uiwtx.edu/bbcswebdav/pid-1384996-dt-content-rid-5525426_1/courses/ENGL2310_V5_Sp215/ENGL2310_final_wks_readings.pdf>.
Kipling, Rudyard. “The White Man’s Burden: The United States and the Philippine Islands.” . N.p., 1899. Web. 26 Apr. 2015. <https://blackboard.uiwtx.edu/bbcswebdav/pid-1384996-dt-content-rid-5525426_1/courses/ENGL2310_V5_Sp215/ENGL2310_final_wks_readings.pdf>.
O’Connor, Frank. “Guest of the Nation (1931).” . N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Apr. 2015.
Orwell, George. “A Hanging.” Orwell.ru. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Apr. 2015. <http://orwell.ru/library/articles/hanging/english/e_hanging>.
Pacheco, Jose Emilio. “High Treason.” . N.p., 1968. Web. 26 Apr. 2015. <https://blackboard.uiwtx.edu/bbcswebdav/pid-1384996-dt-content-rid-5525426_1/courses/ENGL2310_V5_Sp215/ENGL2310_final_wks_readings.pdf>.
Shakespeare, William. The Tempest. Cambridge Edition. William George Clark, and John Glover. 2007. EPUB file.
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