Expression of English Superiority

’Tis raging noon, and vertical the sun Darts on the head direct its forceful beams; O’cr heaven and earth, far as the ranging eye Can sweep, a dazzling deluge reigns.(Thompson 21).

In Phebe Gibbes Narrative, “Hartly House, Calcutta” Sophia Goldsborn uses her seemingly insightful knowledge of literary influences for one simple reason, to seem more interesting than she actually is. The quote above is beautifully written and poetic by nature. It is a wonderful description of the morning sunrise. It is depicted as a beautiful sight that is unparalleled in their familiar land. Clearly this quote was used to described the Indian sunrise in a way that Sophia could not. However, no matter how enlightened this may sound it is, for lack of a better word, BS. Somehow she attempted to pawn off the description of a sunrise as a significant moment in her day that was worth writing about. In reality, She just wanted to sound smart by using splendidly written diction. Sophia is simply trying to make it seem as if Arabella cannot experience something this beautiful in England, but as she continues with the letter, she states that this quote relates to her current situation, revealing the absurdity of the purpose for which she infuses other texts.  Therefore, I chose this quote for the transparency in which it reveals the true intention of her letters, which is to brag to her friend Arabella about how enlightened she has become through her exposure to other cultures.

Unlike Sophia, I don`t need flowery language to make myself seem as if I have some kind of astute and interesting perspective of the world. In this post I will simply state the obvious, without the aid of literary masterminds to make the language used here sound better. In my perspective Sophia is just a fraud who wants to impress her friend and make her jealous of her new exotic persona. She uses well known literary authors to make herself sound like she has a keen insight that her friend Arabella doesn’t have because she has experienced another culture. However, I am fairly certain that her focus on the English language, being a symbol of her privileged lifestyle, is hindering her from embracing and absorbing any true knowledge and influence of Indian culture. Her fixation on English authors shows that she is still holding on to the idea that her culture is more educationally advanced. Instead of quoting works by Indian authors, displaying how she has obtained a new and exciting outlook on the world, which would have been provided if she were to immerse herself into the surrounding culture. Because of her refusal to assimilate into India culture by fixating on English literature as an expression of her class standing, it becomes ironic in a sense that her knowledge of English literature hinders her from gaining a higher level of education. Thus, she is actually showing how ignorant she is through her use of only English writers. This attitude may be a product of her class standing, as she shows that perhaps her status as a privileged English traveler. Like many of the other authors we have read, she has presented this notion of English superiority as an opportunity to experience and assist the development of Indian culture. However, her bias towards the educational advancement unintentionally comes across as a belittling depiction of how colonialism serves as helping advance Indian society.

– Kamani Morrow


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