India embodies a home of intellectual thought and further individuality for Sophia

Sophia makes use of her diary entries to boast about her newfound discoveries in India, and to make her appear more complex and enlightened than her juvenile companion Arabella.  Although her excessive references to English literature make her seem keen and clearly observant of the texts she has read, she dismisses the new culture she encounters around her, and instead romanticizes India for her own benefit. For instance, she claims the children of Calcutta as “virtuous,” which alludes to not only philosophical ideas, but also mirror Gulliver’s praise that succeeds as a “virtuous” species.  She quotes Shakespeare’s Othello, when he remarks on his gratitude for his virtuous wife
“Tis’ not to make me jealous to say my wife is fair
loves company, sings, dances well
&c. &c.;for where virtuous is, she is the most virtuous
Sophia attempts to seem not only intellectual, but also virtuous in her naive, juvenile exterior, much like the innocuous Desdemona seems to Othello on the surface.  She even regards how in the company of all these political-driven men she must maintain her virtue, because that shows more praise than her intellectualism.  What appears ironic to the reader, however, is the fact that she does not apply this concept of virtue in her character; she cares too much about how the natives think of her and her physical appearance, and she only cares about the little dramas in the natives lives, much like how Desdemona becomes infatuated with Othello’s adventures abroad. She becomes impatient and annoyed to hear if one native had a “little native family” so she could play with the “virtuous” children.  Not only is she fixated on the fact that she must resemble a sort of “Desdemona” in this foreign land, her allusion to Othello suggests that she perceives India as a certain Othello, and based on the connotations of the play, she feels herself superior to the natives, and only regards them as a mere spectacle in her orbiting vanity.  As long as they praise her as “virtuous” much as Othello does with Desdemona, she feels charmed with their company and feels less like a foreigner, but more so that the natives are the foreigners in her scope of things.  She does not perceive India as a foreign land, but instead as a place that she can extend her status as a complex, intellectual young woman, who has a seemingly vast perspective on Indian culture to Arabella.  For instance, she recognizes the materialism of the native land, and because of this connection she brands what she knows from English literature as a sort of incentive to feel comfortable and at home with India.  With this in mind, Sophia begins to feel comfortable with the natives and more at home, because she applies these literary concepts in order to relate to them and recognize herself and the natives as a people focused on “virtue,” even though arguably Sophia displays naivete at her own reasoning that she considers herself a person as virtuous and empathetic as the natives.  English literature functions to empower herself as a young, English colonial woman, because by basing her perception of India through a literary lens she has support her self-journey, and obtains confidence instead of insecurity as the actual foreigner in a place she will consider as a secondary home.  She does not allow India to limit her, but instead she dismisses the foreignness of the land in order to take pride in her culture’s accomplishment i.e. Shakespeare to feel challenge her “intellectualism” in order to relate to this unorthodox culture.  -Jessica Mijares

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3 thoughts on “India embodies a home of intellectual thought and further individuality for Sophia

  1. I really liked your ideas in this blog.
    But to go further, why do you think she feels the need to romanticize the Indian culture?
    Do you think it has anything to do with validating colonialism, or possibly expecting a culture much lower than hers but encountering something completely different?

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  2. The main point is, “Sophia makes use of her diary entries to boast about her newfound discoveries in India, and to make her appear more complex and enlightened than her juvenile companion Arabella.” I think you did a very good job and can’t really see a need for improvement.

    Extra Credit 13/25/2

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  3. I think the most original part of this post was its claim that she wants to appear intellectual. I did not know that appearing intellectual was desired at the time, I thought one only wanted to appear well-read. I think as an improvement I would like to see more substantiation of this claim.

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