6th Email to Arabella

To: Arbby102@mail.com                                                                  Reply  ⇒    Mark as Spam  χ

From: Sophia102@mail.com

Subject: I have no signal (that’s why I’m emailing you)

Hey, I had no idea how I would tell you all this information in one single text message, I tried but I had no signal (and I have AT&T why am I paying so much for zero signal)  so I decided to email you instead. Brace yourself for this will be a long email. I will be detailing my stay in the beautiful city of Los Angeles. The lifestyle here is truly basic so basic that I might even run out of things to write; there is no time for spa days, gym days or vacations in a place where day to day work is so important.

The family that is hosting me usually prepares breakfast at 9:00am. Since I can’t stand being alone I am waiting at the table at 8:00 am. I usually pretend to do homework but in reality have nothing to do. Mrs. Hartly is up to date on all the drama and I live for that. I am so glad that I have things in common which such respectable people. It is much different than the crowd you’re used too being around.

The fashion here begins with tank tops much like the city we are from  (by the way they do not wear waist trainers here) they carry large purses with those cotton candy like keychains attached to them and  huge sunglasses that cover about half their face they do however keep up  with all the new trends(highlighting, countering you name it):however, there is nothing more you can add. The fashion here deserves to be on the cover of the Daily Mail on Snapchat, this is expected though, once I tell you that in the morning the men here come visit at random times (they wake up early to ride their Chevy Cameros ). I cannot remember the last time we had breakfast without any visitors —they flirt so much they seem so honest it’s obvious they don’t lie and honestly they can warm any girl’s heart. I know few of them have noticed me, especially some millionaires. I expected them to be interested in a girl  with potential like me. Not, you, but a pretty girl dressed in a white maxi dress, jewelry, and all that good stuff that is super pretty.

You probably think, that, in this happy and draining place women don’t care about the industry: but guess what? you’re wrong because the women here are so into designing it’s their hobby.

At around noon we have brunch which basically consists of everything you’d see at a Thanksgiving dinner, after eating everyone does their own thing and gets dressed for the day. Every one here is important and wealthy it is unfortunate that you won’t be able to experience anything like this…thankfully you have me and I can describe it to you.

The hairstylist makes everyone look so good and those who don’t want to have their hairstyles wear cute caps that create a sporty yet chik look (caps are in style right now). Caps can be paired with denim, leggings and even shorts. In terms of hair color Ombre and Balayage are so popular right now. The transitioning of hair colors is so beautiful; in my opinion natural hair is better but considering hair styles change so quickly it would be impossible to keep  the hair natural. Since you don’t attend these social events it is easier for you.

When I first got here around 3pm which is the time I usually get here, the visitors where in the patio where the outdoor lights are set up. The place is furnished with expensive leather designer couches. I know you’re used to sitting in folding chairs, but here hanging out is a big deal. There are so many important people here. I got to meet many congressman who are very influential many of them own properties in different countries you’ve never even heard about.

Well Arbella I have to go, I’ll text you later (if signal permits) I am sending a few pictures of the makeup, clothes and hair I saw here which I am assuming you’re unfamiliar with.

To Potential Readers,

This excerpt was my attempt of recreating some aspects of the novel Hartly House, Calcutta by Phoebe Gibbes. I focused on letter VI from Sophia to Arabella in the novel but also included various quotes that highlight Sophia’s feeling of being superior. I decided to add some humor to this letter to further emphasize the way Sophia overlooks all situations. Her sense of entitlement prevents her from looking at the “bigger picture” in every letter she writes.  Thomas De Quincey’s hypothesis regarding “the literature of power,” which, for him, cannot be reduplicated, imitated, or parodied without losing its force to move readers emotionally might be significant for some pieces but in this piece I challenge that statement by writing an imitation of Letter 6 in the form of a parody. I attempted to keep the same format and some of the “formal” language. Sophia uses a lot of run-on sentences and loves using commas. I did that in most of the e-mail. I believe that stylistic choice helps show how eager Sophia is to show off the lavish lifestyle she is living. My imitation payed homage to the letter and novel in a negative way because it shows how superficial  and arrogant Sophia is. For example in the letters she references people such as Shakespeare even though she do not directly engage or analyze his work. In my modern imitation I included refrences to congressmen and millionaires because they can be seen as important people in modern society. In my imitation Sophia simply mentions those important people but is not directly associated with them, but they still make her feel superior to Arabella. Stylistically I wanted to keep many similarities used in letter VI for example I looked up the definitions of “fashionable undress”, “clothing stays”,” “white muslin”, “repast”,  and”girandoles”. Once I looked at pictures and definitions of those words I tried to substitute them with words that are more common in modern time. I believe that including a close meaning of those descriptive words   helped keep some form of originality even though the imitation was a parody.


-Luz Zepeda

Immolation & Education


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.


Thomas Pham

Forced Assimilation


Phebe Gibbes Hartly House, Calcutta (1789) is filled with english literary references from the likes of  Dryden, Milton, Pope, Shakespeare, and many more English authors. Gibbs’s quotes Pope’s “An Essay on Man: Epistle I” to justify and articulate the forced assimilation that the native Indians went through. Pope states that,

For me the mine a thousand treasures brings;

For me health gushes from a thousand springs;

Seas roll to Wait me, suns to light me rise;

My footstool earth, my canopy the skies.

Sophia, language and tone does not match the reality of this example of the British imperialism. Sophia makes it seem that the natives we dying to read English colonialism literature. For example, Sophia states that “from all i have already seen and heard, that numbers of them are proud enough to believe, and apply to themselves, the poet’s language.” (Gibbes 48) Sophia is so naive that she actually believes that these people are studying british literature because they want to not because they are being forced to. A majority of these natives do not have there own free will, they are in servitude to the colonialists. Sophia fails to realize that whatever these british colonist tell their native servants to do they will do regardless if they actually would have done it with being ordered too.

The language and tone that Sophia uses in these section illustrates her disillusionment. She fails to realize that the british involvement in India is purely for monetary advancement, and these colonists will do anything and say anything to justify it. Shes describes this assimilation as “both human and divine” her choice to use the term divine masks this assimilation. The use of religious terminology escalates the native indian’s forced assimilation into British Culture.
-Conor Morgan

Europeans and their “Explorations”

Sophia Goldborne has wandered onto foreign land and just like anyone who runs into a new setting, curiosity ensures. However, what if the curiosity set by Sophia is done to not only show off her “edgy lifestyle” but also fetishize the foreign land? This fetization is dangerous because it creates standards to uphold and can be harmful rather than beneficial for those that are indigenous to said land.

In this novel when the East Indian Company, British company, took over India it was because of the attraction to the foreign land and it eventually becoming a Utopia to reside in. Additionally, these European intruders are implementing their own customs in a foreign area where such customs don’t exist. This can be seen when she states, “I have beheld so brilliant dazzled, and so captivated, and, like Gulliver in the land of Lilliput, find all the objects around me so diminutive and so mean, that i overlook and disregard them at every point”(269). In Guillver’s Travel, text being referenced, when describing the land of Lilliput, the main character, Gulliver, not only talks about this land but does it in a way to dehumanize them. Some words Gibbes uses are “diminutive” and “so mean” in order to have readers visualize what Gulliver is seeing but is that the only thing she’s doing? I see this as a way of describing Indigenous people and what is to say it’s in good taste? This can be a way Goldbourne perceives these individuals and it may not be the way they percieve themselves. Additionally,  these characters may be lying to compensate for their own insecurities. This rhetoric becomes dangerous because both Golborne and Gulliver are dehumanizing the people of the land they’re in and unsurprisingly, feel it’s their “duty” to fix or modify something that isn’t meant to be fixed or modified by foreigners. Also, it’s hard to trust the characters themselves since they will say anything to make themselves look well and if that means dehumazing those around them then that’s what will occur. British insecurities become the prime topic in both Hartly House and Gulliver’s Travel because the constant assurance that Eurocentric lifestyles are ones to uphold demonstrates a culture that is lacking in qualities that can be found in Indigenous people.

  • Kristy Frausto

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

Literary References to Teenage Drama

In Hartly House Calcutta, Sophia Goldborne obsessively quotes English literary works to convey her own ambivalences. She uses references to other works to express Sophia’s emotions in a way that ordinary language wouldn’t be able to. Sophia emphasizes her British materialism, “The furniture was all Chinese, of the elegant materials and manufacture of which, even you people in England have a very tolerable idea; but the vases and the perfumes were superior to everything of the kind within my knowledge, and as such had a time effect on my feelings ” (24).

Sophia uses literary work quotes to also express her outrage, awe or childishness many times throughout the novel. For example, she uses a reference from William Shakespeare’s play “Twelfth Night” to demonstrate her displeasure of her father being “friends” with an English widow, “—-She never told her love, But let concealment, &c., &c.”(110).

This quote belongs to Viola, who disguises herself a man but falls in love with Duke Orsino. However, Orsino is in love with another woman and as a result, Viola keeps her feelings a secret, “She never told her love,/ But let concealment, like a worm i’ the bud,/ Feed on her damask cheek.” Sophia uses this literary reference to illustrate that although Mrs. D says she wants Sophia’s father’s friendship, Sophia is doubtful and believes that she is really hiding her real feelings to deceive her father. This quote demonstrates that she is keeping her English sensibility. Although it does portray her as childish and jealous because she doesn’t want her father to be with anyone else, she is also just expressing herself as a normal teenager who has experienced the loss her mother feeling threatened  and insecure at the possibility of her father having another wife.

Sophia uses this literary reference to illustrate that although Mrs. D says she wants Sophia’s father’s friendship, Sophia is doubtful and believes that she is really hiding her real feelings to deceive her father. This quote demonstrates that she is keeping her English sensibility. Although it does portray her as childish and jealous because she doesn’t want her father to be with anyone else, she is also just expressing herself as a normal teenager who has experienced the loss her mother.

-Ana Diaz-Galvan