Aboriginal Peoples and British Empire

Categories: A Passage to India

The attitude of British people towards the native residents of India, in A Passage to India is said to be rather complex because of the fact that different people have different opinions and represent various values. There are people, who try to be or already are peacable and positive towards Indians, for instance Cyril Fielding, who even became friends with the main protagonist, dr Aziz. However, there are also British who had a negative attitude and this negativity was very strongly visible in their behaviour.

The latter ones could be for instance Adela Quested, a young British woman because of whom dr Aziz was accused of a sexual assault in the Marabar Caves, after the expedition. Apart from Mrs Quested, there were more characters who were not sympathetic towards Indians and these characters were for instance Mrs Turton and Ronny Heaslop, Mrs Moore's son. The reluctance to Indians was especially noticeable during the party that was held by Mrs Turton.

The party, which is described at the beginning of the novel, was held to honour both Miss Adela Quested and Mrs Moore who came to India.

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However, the party was not successful and there were at least two reasons for that. The first one was because Adela had a desire to see the real India'. She reduced the essence of India to an object that would present itself to her senses as a self-apparent truth, Orientalism expresses and represents that part culturally and even ideologically as a mode of discourse with supporting institutions, vocabulary, scholarship,imagery, doctrines, even colonial bureaucracies and colonial styles.

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(Said 1979: 2). The party was considered to be unsuccessful by her, because she did not get what she really wanted, success--at least it was not what Mrs. Moore and Miss Quested were accustomed to consider a successful party. They arrived early, since it was given in their honour, but most of the Indian guests had arrived even earlier, and stood massed at the farther side of the tennis lawns, doing nothing. (Forster 1936: 30).

Secondly, another reason why the party was a failure was its name. Mrs Turton refused to name it Bridge Party and insisted on naming the party Purdah Party'. Furthermore, the meeting was full of racial behaviours aimed at Indian and these were English women who were racist towards Indians. For instance, when Mrs Moore wanted Mrs Turton to introduce Indian women to her, she refused, saying you're superior to them, anyway, don't forget that. You're superior to everyone in India (Forster 1936: 33). Mr Turton, who is the social leader of the English sector of Chandrapore and government, brings the newcomers into contact with the Indians. His manners puts the Indians exactly where he wants, which is the class lower than the English. Mr Turton is the person imitated by Ronny Heaslop. Adela Quested is not able to understand him and Fielding does not tolerate him (Amina: 2006).Although the superiority of the English to Indians is only presumptive, there are people who truly believe and behave as if they were really superior to Indians.

An example of such a person can be Mrs Turton, who is a wife of Mr Turton. Mrs Turton is haughty, even haughtier than her husband. She thinks that she, together with any other English, is better than Indians, and this is what she actually said to Mrs Moore, that they are superior to everyone in India. Mrs Turton does not hide the fact that she wants the city of Chandrapore to be more English rather than Indian. Mrs Turton is shocked when she finds out that some of the Indian women speak English or French, Her manner had grown more distant since she had discovered that some of the group was westernized, and might apply her own standards to her (Forster 1936: 34). Lamia Tayeb writes that This presumptive superiority is what invalidates the establishment of a hybrid friendship and forbids the settler to overstep the boundaries of the colonial self-sequestered herd. Those who dare contravene these colonial norms must, on the one hand, undergo the volatility and unpredictability of such a cross-cultural approach, and accommodate the quailing responses of the colonized. On the other hand, they bear the brunt of their countrymen's grudge and acrimony, as well as the slur of disloyalty. (Tayeb2004: 46).

The establishing of friendship between English and Indians is invalidated because of the superiority. That superiority is presumable, but because of that, the settler is forbidden to overstep the boundaries. Infracting colonial norms results in both undergoing the unpredictability of a cross-culture approach as well as accommodating the responses of those who are colonized. On the other hand, the pe ople who break those norms Take the brunt of the grudge and the smear of disloyalty.The other English citizens of the Chandrapore city follow the pattern that was set by the Turtons. McBryde is said to be more open-minded than the other English officials, but in the end his attitude is the same as theirs the attitude of Turtons.Mr McBryde was generally more tolerant than the majority of English living in the city of Chandrapore, but he still assumed that English were superior to Indians. Mr McBryde was the superintended of police, Mr. McBryde, the District Superintendent of Police, was the most reflective and best educated of the Chandrapore officials. He had read and thought a good deal, and, owing to a somewhat unhappy marriage, had evolved a complete philosophy of life(Forster 1936: 147). Because of the fact that he is more tolerant, he gets along very well with Fielding. He is not really engaged into the investigation of the case against Aziz.

What is more, McBryde is accociated with a theoryhas his own theory called ћOriental Pathology. This theory claimed that it's India's climate what makes them behave criminally, All unfortunate natives are criminals at heart, for the simple reason that they live south of latitude 30 (Forster 1936: 148). The fact that he was born in a place that is now Pakistan does not really change his mind. When you think of crime, you think of English crime. The psychology here is different [] Read any of the Mutiny records; which, rather than the Bhagavad Gita, should be your Bible in this country. Though I'm not sure that the one and the other are not closely connected (Forster 1936: 149). Despite the fact, that Mr McBryde was the best educated and more tolerant than other English officials, it did not change the fact that he also was one of many who thought that English are superior to Indians. McBryde's feeling of superiority is especially noticeable in his belief, that it is the place of origin that makes people behave criminally. Another person with a very negative attitude towards Indians was Ronny Heaslop. Ronny was a son of Mrs Moore and the magistrate for the Chandrapore - the city where the action takes place.

Although in the beginning Ronny is quite likable, it changes with given time changes throughout the novel. He becomes unfriendly and even prejudiced to Indians. He is very briefly in a relationship with Adela, they are engaged, but their engagement is broken after the trial of Aziz (Attila: 2006). Ronny Heaslop, who is a son of Mrs Moore, is shown as the ћrubber-stamp product of Public School. He was the magistrate for the Chandrapore - the city where the action takes place. Although in the beginning Ronny is quite likable, it changes with given time. He becomes unfriendly and even prejudiced to Indians. He is very briefly in a relationship with Adela, they are engaged, but their engagement is broken after the trial of Aziz. Both prestige and power as well as a certain type of behaviour have an influence on Ronny. For him, McBryde, Callendar and Mr Turton represent the peak of political and social prestige (Amina: 2006). Ronny Heaslop can be described as a very typical example of the class-conscious Englishman. His judgement is not based on merit, but instead he is judging people by their position on the social ladder.

Ronny desperately wants to fit in, impress his superiors and be the best that he actually becomes a parody of an English administrator. "It's the educated native's latest dodge But whether the native swaggers or cringes, there's always something behind every remark he makes, always something, and if nothing else he's trying to increase his izzat”in plain Anglo-Saxon, to score. Of course there are exceptions(Forster 1936: 26), said Ronny when he tried to explain Indians to is mother, Mrs Moore. He used some cliches that he has picked from his superiors. Aziz, who is an ћeducated native is, in Ronny's opinion, only seeking personal gain. It is unthinkable to him that Aziz, as an educated man and Indian can have valid goals like for instance independent nation or civil rights. Assured of her approbation, Ronny continued: "The educated Indians will be no good to us if there's a row, it's simply not worth while conciliating them, that's why they don't matter. Most of the people you see are seditious at heart, and the rest 'Id run squealing.

The cultivator” he's another story. The Pathan” he's a man if you like. But these people” don't imagine they're India." (Forster 1936: 31). Both Adela and Mrs Moore, who knew Ronny before India, perceive his views as not actually his own, but rather " as the views he picked from his superiors. They also notice the difference between Ronny they knew in the past and the present one. During the trial, he is neither worried nor interested in Adela's well-being, since he believes that the trial would be beneficial to him " it could bring him renown as he was a fiance of an Englishwoman that was hurt (Hemenway: 1975).

During the novel, the character of Ronny does not change very much. Forster focuses more on what happened before India. Ronny's previous views and tastes are dumbed down so that these tastes could meet group standards. Ronny believed that his years of experience that he gained in India were more important than English education. The ultimate clash between Ronny with Adela and Mrs Moore was the fact that he has changed so much (Amina: 2006). Ronny was very ambitious to rise in the ranks, but his ambition did not destroy his goodness. He cares about Indians with whom he works and his job. Forster was quite sympathetic to Ronny and his failing was shown as not his fault, but the fault of the colonial system as such (Amina: 2006).On the other hand, there are characters who were quite liberal in their views and attitude to Indians and these are Adela Quested and Mrs Moore, Ronny's mother (Hale: 1960). Adela Quested is a young Englishwomen who comes to India for two reasons. She appears to be quite cold.

The first one is the fact that she wants to decide and think over the fact if she certainly wants to marry Ronny Heaslop or not. Secondly, as Adela is strongly intrigued by India, she wants to befriend the locals and see the real India instead of the tourist India. In fact, it is her mind that is focused on visiting and getting to know the real India and locals, so she never really comprehends the country as she uses only her intellect and not her heart. Adela comes to India with Mrs Moore " Ronny's mother. She is very well-educated and an individualist(Hale: 1960). After the event that took place in the Marabar Caves, Adela becomes unable to put into the words what she has experiences during the expedition. She fears that there is no ability in her to love neither India nor any person in the world. Furthermore, she comes to realise that she has only done a lot of harm not only to Aziz by her accusation and putting him on a trial, but also to other people.

Adela claims that she is actually unable to find a remedy for the wrongs that she committed. Nonetheless, her behaviour and the trial had also a positive aspect " after the trial she found a friend in Fielding who became perceiving her as a strong and brave woman. He had a natural sympathy for the down-trodden--that was partly why he rallied from Aziz--and had become determined not to leave the poor girl in the lurch. Also, he had a new-born respect for her, consequent on their talk (Forster 1936: 216). Despite the fact that Miss Quested is a young and well-educated Englishwomen, she tends not to know how to behave properly in India. She does not seem to realise that her words and behaviours may be painful to other people. An example of the situation when she hurt somebody in words, may be the expedition to the Marabar Caves. In the caves, Adela asked Dr. Aziz about his family " she inquired if he had wife and children. When he agreed and admitted that his wife was dead, Adela asked whether Aziz had one or more wives. He feels deeply offended by her words. Damn the English even at their best. (Forster 1936: 136), he thinks while going deep into the cave. Adela is unaware of his feelings and that she hurt him, so as a result she follows Dr. Aziz. Both Adela and Aziz are separated in the cave and the information of what really happens to Adela is not given anytime soon in the novel by its author.

However, it is claimed that Dr. Aziz is not responsible for what happened to her (Tayeb: 2004). During the expedition to the caves, Aziz is actually worried about Adela " it is noticeable especially when he does not know where she is and when the guide says that Miss Quested went down the cave, Aziz reprimands him for not keeping an eye on her. You should have kept her in sight, it was your duty," said Aziz severely. "Here are twelve caves at least. How am I to know which contains my guest? Which is the cave I was in myself? (Forster 1936: 137). During the trial, Adela realises that her accusations were incorrect and she knows that she should not have accused Aziz of anything he has not done. Some time later, she talks to Fielding. She lacks sensitivity what is visible in a moment of that conversation, as Fielding suggests apologizing Aziz. Adela agrees to write a letter, but she wants Cyril to dictate it for her. She says that Nothing matters if I can undo the harm I have caused. I can do this right, and that right; but when the two are put together they come wrong. That's the defect of my character. I have never realized it until now. I thought that if I was just and asked questions I would come through every difficulty (Forster 1936: 230).

Fielding then replied Our letter is a failure for a simple reason which we had better face: you have no real affection for Aziz, or Indians generally. She assented. The first time I saw you, you were wanting to see India, not Indians, and it occurred to me: Ah, that won't take us far. Indians know whether they are liked or not " they cannot be fooled here. Justice never satisfies them, and that is why the British Empire rests on sand (Forster 1936: 230). Mrs Moore was an elderly Englishwoman who travelled to India together with Adela. Mrs Moore, who was a Christian with an understanding heart, had some problems in India. At the beginning, she befriends Aziz You understand me, you know what others feel. Oh, if others resembled you! Rather surprised, she replied: I don't think I understand people very well. I only know whether I like or dislike them. Then you are an Oriental. (Forster 1936: 17), but when Aziz truly needs her and her support during the trial, she does not want to become involved in this. What is more, she refuses to help Adela when she needs her. Despite that, it is Mrs Moore's name that helps Adela to clarify her mind at the trial. Mrs Moore was a mother to Stella, Ralph and Ronny. Mrs Moore suddenly decides to go back to England and she does not say anything to anyone about her abandonement. She dies on a journey (Hemenway: 1975).

Although in England, the fact that Mrs Moore was Christian was actually good to her, it is a bit different in India. Despite the fact, that Mrs Moore has sympathy and understands tenets of Hinduism, appreciates all of God's creations, the religion is not adequate for her. Because of that, the readers may feel a little bit disappointed. Mrs Moore brought to India both the understanding heart and her kindnes, but in the even she turns both peevish and morose. She is strongly associated with both spirituality and Hinduism, Because India is part of the earth. And God has put us on earth in order to be pleasant to each other. God is love. She hesitated, seeing how much he disliked the argument, but something made her go on. God has put us on earth to love our neighbours and to show it, and he is omnipresent, even in India, to see how we are succeeding. (Forster 1936: 42). However, during her stay in India, Mrs Moore becomes depressed, irritablee and apathetic. "I shall attend your marriage, but not your trial," she informed them, tapping her knee; she had become very restless, and rather ungraceful. "Then I shall go to England." (Forster 1936: 178). Mrs Moore did not want to stay in India during the trial.

As Adela was not content about it, she decided to just go and not tell anybody about it. So Mrs. Moore had all she wished; she escaped the trial, the marriage, and the hot weather; she would return to England in comfort and distinction, and see her other children. At her son's suggestion, and by her own desire, she departed. But she accepted her good luck without enthusiasm. (Forster 1936: 184). To conclude, the vast majority of not only English officials, but also ordinary English habitants had a negative attitude towards the native residents of India. What made them feel so negative about Indians was the fact that English felt and behaved as if they were superior to Indians. The truth is that some of the English officials did not know the Real Indian people and by assuming that they do not know for instance Any other language, they wanted to prove the fact that Indians were not educated properly, while it turned out that some of the Indian women whom Mrs Turton laughed at, spoke both French and English. On the other hand, there are also English who seemed more tolerant and amicable to Indians. These people were not prejudiced and did not laugh at Indians, they wanted to make friends with them and Simply get to know the real Indians.

Updated: Nov 01, 2022
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Aboriginal Peoples and British Empire. (2019, Aug 20). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/aboriginal-peoples-and-british-empire-essay

Aboriginal Peoples and British Empire essay
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