Most imperial authors were strong advocates for the spread of imperialism. William Yeats and George Orwell seemed to take a different approach to the movement. Orwell was a sub divisional police officer during the turbulent time that India was still under British rule. Despite the attitude that might have been expected by an imperialist police officer at the time, Orwell had an attitude of resentment towards imperialism. This was a surprising attitude to adopt at this time, because he himself was a European. The fact that he was chastised daily in the streets by jeering natives, but that he still resents imperialism is a contradiction. He states “All this was perplexing and upsetting. For at that time I had already made up my mind that imperialism was an evil thing and the sooner I chucked up my job and got out of it the better” (Orwell 2567). In other words even though being a sub divisional police officer was his job it was not one he enjoyed. Just as Orwell thought of imperialism as evil, William Yeats characterized the second coming as the return of Satan. He remarks “When a vast image out of Spirtus Mundi troubles my sight: somewhere in the sands of the desert a shape with lion body and the head of a man” (Yeats 2183). Yeats is personifying the pervasiveness of imperialism as the evilness of Satan. Both Yeats and Orwell demonstrate apathetic attitudes toward imperialism.
I think that Arnold’s views do seem to be primarily conservative, because he seems to condemn the liberal concept of thought. Arnold seems to yearn for a simpler time when one’s success was determined by the success of society as a whole, and not the success of one’s specific economic class. Arnold accuses post industrialist England of being too concerned with self serving behavior, and not having any concern for the public good. According to Arnold the effects of laissez faire capitalism are to blame for the concern with self serving behavior in England’s society. the movement of modernity are one of the reasons that British society is more concerned with the concerns of their own individual class than society as a whole. Arnold also repeatedly blames the new English pride of doing what one likes has also contributed to increasing self serving behavior. He states, “that it is a most happy and important thing for a man merely to be able to do as he likes” (1597). This newfound English pride has placed a higher priority on fulfilling one’s own personal desires to benefit that person as an individual instead of the community. Not only is this a selfish attitude, but it also invites the possibility of anarchy in society. Arnold also states, “Our notion of its being the great right and happiness of an Englishman to do as far….we are in danger of drifting towards anarchy” (1597). Arnold is saying that while a certain degree of freedom is important for a productive society, as well as human happiness, if everyone always did whatever they wanted without restraint there would be mass chaos, or anarchy. That is why as Arnold argues that Britain implemented a system of check and balances to prevent anarchy. He states, “Our familiar praise of the British Constitution….a system which which stops and paralyses any power in interfering with the free action of individuals. Meaning that a system of checks and balances is put into to place as a way to prevent an abuse of power, by keeping each individual’s actions in check. This is a conservative doctrine, because many liberalists living in England during this time were advocating for a laissez faire approach to government. Arnold wants to return to a time of eliminated classism and a sense of community where the public good and intellect are of the highest concern, instead of individualism and courage which are tearing apart society.
One revolutionary characteristic that both Equiano and Barrett Browning share is that they both share a fiercely independent spirit, which I think is a crucial ingridient to the start of a revolution. After Browning’s mother dies when she was 4, her father is left to raise her and he instills in her his passion for learning. This is similar to how Captain Michael Pascal took Equiano under his wing, and taught him how to read, the christian faith, which allowed Equiano along with the other skills he learned to eventually purchase his own freedom, and to become something more than a slave, Equiano even chose to use the knowledge and skills that he had acquired to help improve the world, by going back to the same master who sold him, in the hopes of giving him a better life than he was given. Equiano states, “I often supplied the place of a clerk, in receiving and delivering cargoes to the ships….I used to shave and dress my master, when convenient, and take care of his horse…. I worked likewise on board of his different vessels…. I became very useful to my master, and saved him, as he used to acknowledge, above a hundred pounds a year.” Here Equiano explains the different ways that he was able to exercise the various skills that he learned in a useful manner, where before he was thought of as cargo, now he was beginning to be seen as useful addition to society. “My imagination was all rapture as I flew to the Register office, and in this respect like the apostle Peter…. that he thought he was in a vision.” This quote emphasizes the feelings of immense gratitude that Equiano feels toward Captain Pascal, for granting Equiano his freedom, even though Captain Pascal ended up selling Equiano back into slavery after promising him he wouldn’t previously. In a similar way Browning was able to take the knowledge that she learned from reading the books in her late father’s library, and apply what she learned from her father’s books into her identity as both a writer and a woman Because Browning had read Shakespeare and other famous works, she was able to assert that knowledge and eventually become one of the most famous and well known women writers of the victorian age. As well as to know that women are capable of more than just flower arranging, spinning glass, and sewing. Browning states, “I danced the polka and cellarius, spun glass, stuffed birds, and modelled flowers in wax, because she liked accomplishments in girls.” Browning is mocking what was typically viewed as “accomplishments ” for girls. Browning further emphasizes this sarcasm stating, “By the way, the works of women are symbolical. We sew, sew, prick our fingers, dull our sight, producing what? A pair of slippers…. or a stool to stumble over and vex you….”curse that stool!” Browning is asserting her opinion of women’s accomplishments by saying that all of the work that we do really just reiterates how women are viewed as weak and useless by men. Browning uses the analogy of a stool for men to trip over as a personification of women because they are seen as nagging and annoying, and useless by men like a useless stool that someone trips over. If Browning had never been exposed to her father’s books she would have most likely never acquired an independent spirit, because she wouldn’t know that there was anything to be unsatisfied about, she would have just accepted that the circumstances of women were how they always were, and that there was no need to refute or argue against them. On the same accord, if Equiano had never been taught how to read, or how to navigate a ship, cut hair, etc. he would have just accepted that becoming a slave as his predetermined destiny. Both the stories of Browning and Equiano are examples that when we become empirically informed, that is when we become informed of the facts, then we can use our normative knowledge (our opinions) to make valuable judgements of the facts, and ultimately decide whether to obey them, or disobey them.
What this says about revolution is that to begin a revolution one has to first be informed of what the current circumstances are that create the proper climate for a revolution to occur. In other words, if you have never been informed about the world outside of your current world, situation, or circumstances you will never know that there is a world or life outside of your current situation, and as a result you won’t start a revolution, because you are satisfied, because you don’t know anything outside of your current situation, so you just except it, because you think that is how things have always been and that is how they will always be.
What is a significant way that Wollstonecraft’s vindication of the Rights of Woman is revolutionary?
I think one of the ways that Wollstonecraft’s vindication of the Rights of woman is significant is how she advocates for a reform of women’s education. Wollstonecraft claims that women’s education has prepared women to be dutiful, docile wives and mothers, and that while men’s education prepares men for life in the real world, women’s education only prepares them for what men think women should aspire to be. Wollstonecraft states, “I attribute these problems to a false system of education….who considering females rather as women than human creatures have been more anxious to make them alluring mistresses than affectionate wives and rational mothers.” What I interpreted this quote to mean is that men’s skills determine their value, and in turn earn them respect. Whereas qualities such as beauty and love determine a women’s value, and those qualities is what earns her respect, because a woman is not viewed as an equal ”human creature”, but as an object of man’s affection. Wollstonecraft is saying that women’s virtue should also be determined by their skills and nobility instead of trivial qualities like beauty and love.
Wollstonecraft also states that “for the sake of woman’s dignity she should be allowed to earn a living and support herself.” This is a refute of society’s view of women during this time, which was that the sole purpose of the creation of women was to fall in love with a man, and that the man’s assumed job is to take of the woman. While this may seem like a golden system, in reality this isn’t as great a system as it seems, because it puts unnecessary pressure and expectations on men by creating a toxic masculinity of men, and women should be able to have their own identities and be able to support themselves, that should be a women’s right. This view of women is also revolutionary because during this time men were the only gender that were seen as worthy to have a job, by asserting that women had the right as well to make their own living and support themselves is placing women on the same accord as men which was revolutionary during the 19th century.