Imperialism at Home: Race and Victorian Women's Fiction

Imperialism at Home: Race and Victorian Women's Fiction

Imperialism at Home: Race and Victorian Women's Fiction

Imperialism at Home: Race and Victorian Women's Fiction

Synopsis

"Meyer's readings are most interesting when she charts the different ways in which the metaphorical linkage between gender and race rebellion collapses or is rewritten as the narrative proceeds. By giving us a complex sense of the multiple routes the connection between race and gender could take, Meyer's book beautifully maps out the ideological limits of what Raymond Williams calls a 'structure of feeling'"-Elsie B. Michie, Modern Philology

Excerpt

Between the late 1840s, when Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre appeared, and 1860, the year in which George Eliot The Mill on the Floss was published, the nature of British imperialism had undergone some significant changes. For quite a number of years, indeed for most of the first half of the nineteenth century, since the conclusion of the Napoleonic Wars in 1815, Britain had not been involved in any military activity overseas costly to itself. This situation changed when Russia invaded the Ottoman empire in 1854 in an attempt to acquire control over Constantinople. Fearing that Russia's acquisition of Constantinople would endanger both its route to India and its trade in the eastern Mediterranean, Britain formed an alliance with Turkey, as did France for its own reasons, and the Crimean War began. Most of the military encounters took place on the Crimean peninsula on the north coast of the Black Sea, where the allies attacked the strong Russian fortress at Sebastopol and sustained heavy losses in a series of bloody battles. Their eventual victory in 1856 was an expensive one and also did not force the Russians as far back from the route to India as the British would have liked.

Within two years of the end of the Crimean War, Britain was at war again, this time in its second Opium War against China, waged, like the first Opium War of 1840-42, to force China to permit the lucrative British opium trade, in which the British sold Indian opium to the Chinese. This war dragged on from 1858 to 1860. in 1857 Britain was shocked by a violent insurrection in India, known variously as the Indian Mutiny and the First Indian War of Independence. the Crimean War had provoked rumors in India of British decline. Spurred in part by these rumors, the army of Indian sepoys employed by the British, on which British rule in India was based, mutinied in Meerut against . . .

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