A Passage to India and Burmese Days Essay

A Passage to India and Burmese Days Essay

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Throughout the novel A Passage to India, by E.M. Forster, and Burmese Days, by George Orwell, the authors use race, culture, economics, and liberal humanism to discuss various colonial issues. These issues include controversies, power structures, injustices, and the idea of syncretism between the colonizers and the colonized. A Passage to India focuses largely on using culture and liberal humanism to explore issues of colonialism while Burmese Days mainly uses race and economics to explore these topics. While the novels use different methods of exploration, both novels very successfully take on the task of discussing the very colonial issues of controversies, power structures, injustices, and syncretism.
One way that we can explore power structures in A Passage to India is through cultural misunderstandings. One of the main cultural misunderstandings that occurs in the novel is the invitation of Miss Quested and Mrs. Moore to Dr. Aziz’s home (69). Though he had meant it only as a gesture of goodwill towards the women, they take it as a literal invitation to his home. This misunderstanding is due to cultural differences in hospitality. Had the women been Indian as well, they would have understood Aziz’s invitation as simply a gesture of goodwill. Due to Aziz being a product of the raj and wanting to act like the Europeans want him to, he feels as though he cannot explain the misunderstanding. Because of this, he feels as though he must take the women on a trip. In this way, power structures are enforced and reinforced as the native people feel as though their culture is less important than the European culture.
Another cultural misunderstanding happens in the same passage between Ronny and Dr. Aziz. Aziz gives Fielding ...


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...occupy a space that is seemingly between both the world of the colonizer and the world of the colonizer. Ultimately though, he is unable to successfully occupy this space. Flory’s love for Elizabeth makes it impossible for him to continue to occupy both spheres and be happy. In the end he would have to choose between marrying Elizabeth and giving up his love for Burma, or giving up Elizabeth and continuing to occupy the place between the two worlds. As we know, however, the choice seemed to be too unsettling and he killed himself. I see this as proof that he is unable to continue successfully acting in both worlds; the tension between the two groups was too great to overcome.



Works Cited

Forster, E.M. A Passage to India. San Diego: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1984. Print.
Orwell, George. Burmese Days. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1974. Print.

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