Charlie House, Amsterdam

Email 1

The endless flying frenzy of little insects speed to their deaths into a sea of goo that is the saliva in my mouth. I have arrived at the little town of Lisse within the Netherlands, I might say it is nothing but open land. I shall write as a reminder to you, dear Alexander, of my mother’s cruel death after all these years of battle against cancer. Now, forget I ever spoke of such tender and heart retching topic. I am not exactly sure what I am doing here in this little town but to accompany my father at Charlie House, I suppose, and be away from my life in Washington, DC. I shall put my electronic device to sleep and return another day and write to you again. I must take a long walk across the plains.

Your best buddy,

Sebastian

Email 2

As I recall, Alexander, you are always locked within the vicinity of your room playing video games. I cannot even begin to explain the sights of the Western Netherlands. Of course, you probably will not understand nor appreciate the beauty of nature like I do as I have recently discovered. I will describe in the simplest terms that I can to your level of understanding. The many thing you will find outdoors are green, the color of the little round power button on you console. You can turn your head in every direction to find endless fields of brilliant flowers, not walls. The scent of manure is a breath of fresh air and is everything good compared to the city smog. I met a young lady by the name of Brooke and she was sweet enough to show me around town. I have grown quite fond of her presence.

Your buddy,

Sebastian

Email 3

I met a fellow American today on my way to the horse stables and in this young fellow’s hand was something like a cigarette, except it was not a cigarette. There is a specific type of green (I was later informed the plant was called marijuana) that can be rolled inside a specific type of paper, lit and inhaled to get “high”, as they say to describe the sensational experience. If only you can take this trip with me and feel the relaxation from the fumes of this plant of wonders, but you are busy in your catholic studies and I have the time to spare and money from my allowance to spend. Decent music can make you a decent man. Like Tupac.

I hope the Lord can forgive me, I was a G
And gettin’ high was a way of bein’ free

I cannot tell you how popular I have become among these foreign women. All these women often try to get into my pants, but I refuse to let anyone break me away from my catholic moralities. My love, I will give to the lord and only the lord.

Yours,

Sebastian

Letter 4

My father has fell under the spell of a lady business partner, which I was strongly against until I found myself giving my love to the young lady, Sam. I am happy, Alexander. We will meet soon.

Sebastian

Reflection

The Netherlands was somewhat chosen at random. As we see that Sophia was a big fish in a little pond when she arrived in Calcutta, I wanted to imitate that but in a domestic and modern setting. My character Sebastian was modeled after Sophia, hence the similarity in the names, and both are addressing a passive friend who does not respond, making it feel like the readers are intruding the conversation. The name of Charlie House was modeled after Hartly House, and I chose Amsterdam because it is the capital of the Netherlands just as Calcutta is the Capital of India at the time. Phebe Gibbes’s Hartly House, Calcutta was a bit long and made it impossible to capture every aspect within a 500 word piece. I had to focus on key aspects of Sophia as a character and her actions. Sophia is introduced as a spoiled brat and it seems she doesn’t realize it, being she is only 16 years of age. Instead of beginning the first letter with a scene of dead bodies, I began it with dead insects inside the narrator’s mouth. Moving from Washington, DC to the Netherlands is a big change, like from a big city to a small town. I believe Sophia brings up the death of her mother simply looking for sympathy, so I tried that. She doesn’t have a clue what she is doing in India, so I sort of paralleled that. The only thing the readers know is that her father is involved in the trade industry between Europe and India, but she could care less. Sebastian also doesn’t care much about his father’s business and is simply enjoying life as a teenage boy. Sophia sees herself as superior to Arabella and she contradicts her words through her actions quite a lot. She says she will never marry in Indonesia, but ends up doing just that. Sebastian says he will not love anyone else but the lord, but falls for Sam, who he barely knows. Sophia loves to include quotes from various philosophers, poets, etc. and to mimic that for a contemporary audience, I used a few lines from a song by Tupac. Both Sophia and Sebastian are both dandy-like as well, both are very conceited. I also noticed that when Sophia closes her letters, she puts in less effort each time.

-Van Vang

Hartly House, College

iMessage

Yesterday 3:16 AM

Hey Arabella….are you up?

Yeaaah, why?

How is life back home? I miss u! ❤

Awh me too! Are u not having a good time at school?

Well yeah! HONESTLY COLLEGE IS THE BEST THING TO HAVE HAPPENED TO ME OMG

Yeah? How so?

Okayyy everything is soooo different from high school and being back home

I get to just do anything that I want. The campus so beautiful in the fall because it’s packed with autumn leaves. The air is so fresh as if I were at sea. Walking around campus is so peaceful with people walking around trying to get to class or just simply hanging out

Oh but the classes are so fun

Like in one of my classes there is like a gazillion kids, it’s like a frat party but in the day time

Ehhh sounds gross. Everyone being jammed packed like sardines

Yeah but I don’t mind because the are some caaaayute boys in there

Honestly

THESE BOYS

Totally different from high school boys JUST gonna say that

What do u mean?

Like they’re just different. If you were here you could just see the differences. OMG I wish you were here! We could be dorming together and going to parties, but u just had to stay home. U would love college parties, sooo different from high school parties for sure.

Yeahhh…but I had to put off school for bit to help out 😥

It’s just so great here. I know you would have loved it!

Like there’s this guy who lives across my hall and he sooo caaayute and the other day I saw one of his friends and I just know you would like him too!

Yeah that sucks 😦

Yeah I know 😦

College has just been such a good experience

I feel so different, but in a good way

I’m just freer ya know?

There’s just so much information to take in

And so many people to meet

Picking a major

I don’t think you have to worry about that

A lot of people say to worry in ur 3rd year

Everyone knows what they want to do

And they love their major

I just want to like what I do

You’ll find something

If you could pick a major what would it be?

English. I love English!

OHH

I forgot to tell you about this guy

I only remembered because you mentioned English

Well he was an English major

I think a second year

And OMG he was so cute

Like Ezra from Pretty Little Liars, caaayute 

Ooohh that’s so cute!!

What happened?!?!? Are u dating him?

No lol

I’m barely a first year

I just wanna explore

College is about being selfish, ya know?

Yeah I can see that

Hey but ttyl

I have to get back to my assignment

I have a creating project due tomorrow 😥

❤ ❤

Dear Reader,

In Hartly House, College, I attempt to parody Sophia in the contexts of a first year college student. In Hartly House, Sophia addresses her letters to her best friend Arabella who is in Britain. Sophia informs Arabella about her encounters in India and what “that” place is really like. In my version, I changed the format in which Sophia and Arabella are having a back and forth conversation. Instead of sending letters, people send texts, we text everyone, especially our best friend because you would want to be in contact constantly. In this modern representation they would be talking to each other, rather Sophia being the only one talking. However, I still tried to capture and maintain Sophia’s personality throughout the texts. For instance, as seen in Letter II, Sophia starts off the letter by describing the “splendor of the house, as it is modestly styled, is of itself…sufficient to turn the soundest European head” (Gibbes 7). In Hartly House, Calcutta, Sophia had a superiority complex, so college Sophia also feels superior because she is in college while Arabella is home. Also, throughout her letters, Sophia jumps around from thought to thought because she is informing Arabella of the events. I tried to capture that as well with her jumping around subject to subject, such as classes and boys, while still being able to capture a few detailed moments, such as the details of campus. Sophia was also snobby so she would always end up making the conversation about herself and what she is doing at college. If Sophia were a teenager in our time who was entering college, a different environment that is considered to be a different world (like Britain and India); she would be very vague on some of the things she would talk about because she is somewhat naïve. She treats the idea of the “perfect” and stereotypical college experience as if it were common knowledge. For instance, she tells Arabella that “college is about being selfish ya know?”. Here, Sophia comes off as if she knows what she’s talking about in a vague way because she’s not even sure herself, which is why she says, “ya know?”. Although she attempts to appear like she knows it all in comparison to Arabella, Sophia is just a teenager. Thus, Sophia is privileged teenager who is lucky to attend school, which a lot of people can’t do because they don’t have the means due to class status.

 

-Nancy Sanchez

Stroke of Hope

Just as Ireland loathed the tight superficial embrace of the United Kingdom, India was also trying to pry off the greasy fish and chip fingers of the UK. While it is sometimes nice to think about the convenience and familiarity of something, over expanding can piss off a lot of people. I like to think about McDonalds or Walmart. Almost anywhere in the United States that we visit, we can be sure to find one and our anxieties are soothed because we know generally what the store is going to sell. This of course kills culture. It kills the culture in the community, it kill the moral, the creativeness, the distinction in which a region has over time, identified with.

The same goes for colonization in India. The intrusiveness that Britain patrols the world with has oppressed the people in India. What is more concerning is that if people are not willing to express their dislike, they will simply mold to that of which the commanding entity wishes for the country. “He who will not reason is a bigot, he who cannot reason is a fool, and he who does not reason is a slave” was said by Derozio. A sentence as such shows that many people tend to fall in the last portion of that. People essentially become slaves to that of which is in the best interest of the highest authorities. Wanting the UK would seem more advantageous. Of course, Roy would argue that the English was needed to modernize and advance the old ways of India, but it is still not taken lightly that the UK is how the US is now by trying to have their nose In everything.

I sense that Derozio reminisces in his poem by addressing times that were better prior “Once thy harmonious chords to sweetness gave” (line 9). Some people, easily give up and just reflect on past times. But we know that the harp stands for more. “The harp symbolizes a fight to survive through regeneration and adaptation in a changing society” (Harp Spectrum). For these reasons there is flare and passion in Derozio’s lines of rekindling the strength of a society. The rhyme pattern line by line does not follow a normal pattern. Rather, enlightened in class, the rhyme scheme in the poem follows the pattern as that of a harp being played. The music tends to be harmonious from that of a harp. I feel a punch however when reading “Harp of my country, let me strike the strain!” (line 14) of Derozio’s finishing poem. This shows that India will not go down easy and stand up and join together.

 

-Daniel Estrada

Immolation & Education

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For a long period of time in India, being a devoted wife might include grabbing the groceries for dinner, taking the kids to school, and burning yourself to death.

As they approached, my ears drank in the most delightful sounds; a band of music, as is the custom, occupied each of them, playing the softest airs; and from the tout en semble, brought Dryden’s Cydnus and Cleopatra in my recollection. (9)

– Sophia Goldborne in “Hartly House, Calcutta”

It is evident, that Sophia is quite clueless throughout her efforts of epistolizing the events she sees in plain sight, however, there is a constantly reoccurring theme of irony, in which it is the readers’ duty to acknowledge and take note of, to assimilate and connect the key implicit points in this historical setting of Anglo-Indian affairs, that Sophia is otherwise not aware of.

For Sophia, the celebrations are glamorous and fun, and she remembers dramas that she experienced back home in England. Although she is merely reminded of Dryden’s Cydnus and Cleopatra through the musical ensemble, there is a critical point to address as she begins to establish her descriptions of the cultures and traditions of the time. Digging deeper into the tale of Cydnus and Cleopatra, we learn about how desperate Cleopatra was to be the perfect lover and commits herself to self-sacrifice in honor of her husband after his passing. This example of an extreme level of marriage devotion can be linked to the Sati ritual in India. Sati means “the husband is to be followed always”. It was a customary virtue before modernity for a female widow to burn herself to the pyre, to follow her husband. Again we can thank Raja Roy for disseminating the notion that this wasn’t very ethical. Sophia is unknowingly referencing a deeper tradition that was prevalent previously, that approaches on issues of femininity, and gender equality. The core of this novel is to take into consideration what lays beneath the surface of what Sophia naively envisions.

The status of English literature at the time is immense. The culture of India and the language of English are beginning to mesh together in a willing cohesion of intercultural transformation. The works of several scholars and thinkers alike have impacted the lives of various cultures around the world. Sophia shares her knowledge of English continuously in her letters, but the implicit reasoning to this is tied directly to generalized English sentiments in India at the time. The feeling of uncertainty proved to be enough for many visitors to feel the need disseminate their language about.

Cheers,

Thomas Pham

The Mask of Stupidity

In Letter IX of Hartly House, we see Sophia informing her friend, Arabella, of the sights in Calcutta. In her description of The Writer’s Buildings, she highlights how struck she was at their prosperity, using the following quote to compare England to the East:

“Seek to be good, but aim not to be great; A woman’s noblest station is retreat; Her fairest virtues fly from public sight; Domestic worth, — that shuns too strong a light.” – George Lyttleton, 1st Baron Lyttleton

Sophia’s attempt to quote Lyttleton works in two ways; on the level of character and in reference to British norms. While Lyttleton’s quote refers to the enforced gender roles of England, Sophia uses the quote to compare English “sensibility” to the East’s lack of “ostentation.” Unknown to Sophia, she ironically misuses the quote to affirm her “depth” and “intellectual endowment” when it actually exemplifies her as the stereotypical, submissive woman. Thus, British normalization of gender roles are still upheld subconsciously through Sophia, granted she is somewhat naïve due to the fact she is only 16 years of age. Her obsessive quotes portray a vacillation of her nationalistic pride and position in England society; being both amazed by Calcutta and its décor while also subconsciously reinforcing the superiority of England.

Furthermore, the irony of the passage can be attributed to the author, Phebe Gibbes, as perhaps a commentary on the gender norms of England. Having released the book anonymously, it can be inferred that her sociopolitical critique had to be subtle; Sophia is an exemplary character in which to hide such commentary. Sophia wears the mask of stupidity to hide the subtle commentary of Gibbes.

-Daniel Corral

Fifty Shades of Golds…borne

Her fairest virtues fly from public sight.

Domestic worth, that shuns too strong a light.

-Gibbes, 58

Sophia Goldsborne is using a quote by George Lyttelton, the 1st Baron Lyttelton, a member of Parliament and the Royal Society. It is unknown where the exact quote came from, like was it from an interview or from one of his works? Anyway, Sophia is using this quote to help explain her point to Arabella. Before she brings this quote up she says “…for we are taught to believe, that a woman’s noblest station is retreat…” (58). I believe that she is saying that the quote by George has been a stereotype set upon women. That not only are women hidden from “public sight”, they are nothing but “domestic worth”, in other words, just housewives. It could also mean that Sophia, herself, is becoming a young adult in the world despite her being only 16. And she doesn’t want to just be some housewife, she’s too good for that! She goes on to say “…Indostan is the land of vivacity, rather than that of sentiment” (58). Indostan, also known as Hindustan, is a geographic term for the Northern part of India. I believe what Sophia is trying to say here is that Calcutta is a place that is very animated and lively whereas Europe is this place that is affected by many (tragic) events. All in all, Sophia is trying to rub it in Arabella’s face that she’s in Calcutta living the life. In fact, it sounds like she enjoys her stay in Calcutta as it is “the land of vivacity” and she doesn’t want to just be a housewife in such a lively place.

Another One 

On a side note, I did more research on George and found out that he was a supporter of Alexander Pope, Henry Fielding, and had a poem based on him by James Thomson. All of which do have a presence in Sophia’s letters. She has referenced Pope in Letter XIL:

They ask no angel’s wings, no seraph’s fire

But think, admitted to their native sky

Their faithful dog shall bear them company

-Gibbes, 87

By using this quote, she is admiring the people there. She goes on to describe these traits that make them look like Saints, where they would never do anything offensive or hurtful. And because of that, she would love to learn more about their values and traditions. It raises her curiosity of the Indian culture. In addition to that, she misquotes Pope entirely. And this is where it shows her ignorance and arrogance. Ignorance in misquoting, and arrogance in labeling all foreigners “they” and superiority in “native sky”. In Pope’s original passage, he uses “equal sky”. Thus, highlighting her weird usage of these references of literary works. In a sense, she might be misunderstanding the works or just doubt of her own knowledge in this foreign land. Whatever it may be, Sophia represents everything the English is: arrogant.

However, because of her interest in learning more–it could also mean she is working another angle here.

Greek Life

Hear me out on this, Gibbes might be using Sophia as a representation of the English language. Sophia is interested in learning more about the tradition and culture of India, but yet she compares them to the Greek. In my understanding, the Greeks once held knowledge that was very important but are now gone from relevancy. Also on page 7, she refers to the Greek god Apollo.

…though I cannot, like Mr. Apollo, lay aside my rays, that your optics shall be enabled to contemplate, however brilliant, the dazzling objects I gradually open on your view

-Gibbes, 7

She refers to Apollo as “Mr. Apollo,” but why? It may be to make her sound sophisticated to impress Arabella to see how much knowledge she has attained but Apollo is the God of Science, Music, etc., his presence in this quote may imply that she either knows Apollo personally because of how she addresses him or that maybe she believes that she is Apollo herself. To be able to say something like “I gradually open on your view” sounds like Sophia is lowering herself just to talk to Arabella. Again, shows how Sophia could be a representation of the English language: it’s ready to expand because of its amazing value it has behind the language (the Enlightenment, literary classics, etc.).

But is it also a foreshadowing of what is to come for India? I mean think about it, according to the lecture on Monday, this was written before Macaulay went on his conquest to impose English education on Indian land. Once she has “learned” all these things; what is to stop her from imposing her own culture and tradition on them? I mean, she juggles between admiring her own roots but also the things around her. As stated on page 58: “At the back of the Writers’ Building is the Calcutta Theatre…it equals the most splendid European exhibition” (58). To me, it sounds like she is impressed by the things around her but at the same time, she’s trying to play it safe by expressing her love for her European roots. And once she has completely settled down, what is stopping her from changing her mindset to Macaulay’s.

Macaulay’s Inspiration?

Last week, we read about how Macaulay compared the English language to Sanscrit and Arabic.

“…I certainly never met with any orientalist who ventured to maintain that the Arabic and Sanscrit poetry could be compared to that of the great European nations. But when we pass from works of imagination to works in which facts are recorded and general principles investigated, the superiority of the Europeans becomes absolutely immeasurable. It is, I believe, no exaggeration to say that all the historical information which has been collected from all the books written in the Sanscrit language is less valuable than what may be found in the most paltry abridgments used at preparatory schools in England”

-Thomas Babington Macaulay, 11

Sure, what they [Macaulay and scholars] learn there was good and all but in comparison to the English language? Not a contest. It’s like comparing Charles Barkley to Michael Jordan (one is a multiple time all-star but the other is a champion, MVP, and a multiple time all-star. Well, this is what the English were probably thinking). Goldsborne incorporates many English literary works here and there which makes me think that she’s trying to promote the English language as much as possible. Thus, showing the status of the English language. Domestically, it’s amazing. But should it be spread throughout the world? Maybe. But this book tells me that this is the very foundation of what Macaulay is preaching. Again, “Her fairest virtues fly from public sight. Domestic worth, that shuns too strong a light” (58). This could potentially stand for the English language as well. The English language might not be available worldwide for “public sight” but is too valuable to just be at home (in England). And now this goes back to how valuable the English language really is, it has literary works from Shakespeare, Milton, Pope, etc., yet it isn’t for the world to see. Not only that, but also Sophia’s characterisitcs of being ignorance and arrogance, it promotes the mindset of British power. And that, is what Macaulay is fighting for, to spread the language internationally because of this represenation.

  • Christopher Luong

Comedy and Drama

 

They ask no angel’s wings, no seraph’s fire

But think, admitted to their native sky

Their faithful dog shall bear them company

 

In the passage where Sofia uses this quote she is describing how pure and good the people of India are. She comments on how they are raised to be kind and non-violent. She is idolizing them. She describes their tents as “Pythagorean”. By saying this she links their communities with something divine and mysterious. Comparing the native people to the Greeks is a common theme we see in the text. Perhaps to comment on the importance of the Indian culture or how important Indian culture should be to the rest of the world. Sofia claims that the native people are perfectly described in Pope’s quote. Quoting Pope is holds up another theme throughout the book. Gibbes repeatedly quotes English authors. She does this to show that even though her character make an ass out of her main character. Pope was satirical writer, and not exactly the right person someone may choose to describe the purity of people. By using him she is hinting at her own satirical writing. Gibbes intentionally makes Sophia a sexist stereotype of a girl. She is made out to be someone who just throws out names without really thinking. When Sophia uses these authors in the wrong context it could also be a comment on their importance. She is throwing “shade” at them by totally overlooking what the real meanings of their text are. Gibbes makes them look unimportant and forgettable, this is probably how she truly felt.

Next in the passage Sophia states that she must go learn about the culture that is so foreign to her. She does so in a condescending way. Gibbes message here is to comment on how condescending people can be when they quote English literature, even if they do it in the wrong context. Maybe if we take it a step further we can compare this to how arrogant she thinks English people are.

She also inserts Pope into her own satire for the reader to make a comparison. Who is funnier? Gibbes is trying to make a statement. She is saying “you call me one of these ditsy girls, but it looks like I am just as good as you”. She is making people face their stereotypes of women head on.

-Maya Gonzales

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English Literature in Phebe Gibbes’s Hartley House, Calcutta

Receptive to the Anglo-Indian colonial experience in Bengal, Phebe Gibbes’s  Hartley House, Calcutta (1789) abounds with references to the works of Dryden, Milton, Pope, Shakespeare, and other English authors.  For next Friday (3/10), students will write a brief post focusing on ONE example of these references for close reading, explaining their specific function in the text.  Why does Sophia Goldborne obsessively quote English literary works ?  What do these selective quotations suggest about the status of English literature during this time?  Feel free to run a Google search for unattributed literary references.

Please categorize your post under “The Anglo-Indian Novel” and don’t forget to create specific and relevant tags.  The post is due by Friday (3/10) 1pm, but students have the option to revise it until 6pm that day.  And please sign your posts so that your TA, Hannah, and I know who wrote what.  Warning: blank or filler “placeholder” posts submitted after the deadline will not receive a grade!