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Hybridity and National Identity in Postcolonial Literature

Hybridity and National Identity in Postcolonial Literature

Every human being, in addition to having their own personal identity, has a sense of who they are in relation to the larger community–the nation. Postcolonial studies is the attempt to strip away conventional perspective and examine what that national identity might be for a postcolonial subject. To read literature from the perspective of postcolonial studies is to seek out–to listen for, that indigenous, representative voice which can inform the world of the essence of existence as a colonial subject, or as a postcolonial citizen. Postcolonial authors use their literature and poetry to solidify, through criticism and celebration, an emerging national identity, which they have taken on the responsibility of representing. Surely, the reevaluation of national identity is an eventual and essential result of a country gaining independence from a colonial power, or a country emerging from a fledgling settler colony. However, to claim to be representative of that entire identity is a huge undertaking for an author trying to convey a postcolonial message. Each nation, province, island, state, neighborhood and individual is its own unique amalgamation of history, culture, language and tradition. Only by understanding and embracing the idea of cultural hybridity when attempting to explore the concept of national identity can any one individual, or nation, truly hope to understand or communicate the lasting effects of the colonial process.

Postcolonialism is the continual shedding of the old skin of Western thought and discourse and the emergence of new self-awareness, critique, and celebration. With this self-awareness comes self-expression. But how should the i…

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…nial institution–one voice which would articulate their own sense of national identity. But exploration of these societies, and the literature produced by postcolonial authors and poets illustrates that there is a veritable infinite number of differing circumstances inherent in each postcolonial society, and, consequently, in each piece of literature produced by postcolonial writers. If one is to read this literature in a way which will shed some light on the postcolonial condition, one must understand and adopt the theory that we are all walking amalgamations of our own unique cultures and traditions. We are all always struggling with our own identities, personal and national. We must understand that there is no “one true voice” representing an easily identifiable postcolonial condition, but, instead, each author is his or her own voice and must be read as such.

Science Versus Faith In Memoriam A. H. H.

The Victorian Age, named for the queen who reigned nearly the entire century, was characterized by incredible scientific progress. Charles Darwin, for example, came forth with his treatise The Origin of Species, which advanced his radical theories of evolution and survival and rocked the pillars of traditional Christian faith in humankind’s superiority to the beasts of the earth. Darwin’s theories of natural selection and survival of the fittest conflicted with the story of the Creation related in the Bible. Moreover, scientists now had proof that the Earth was much older than had ever been imagined before, making the history of humanity seem like a blink of the universe’s eye. The Victorian population could no longer blindly accept that the world had been created in six days after geologists had proven that the world evolved into its current form over millions of years. In addition, a theory called “Higher Criticism” developed which read the Bible not as the infallible word of God, but as a historical text. In the face of these incredible and disturbing discoveries and theories, the faith of many Victorian Christians was profoundly shaken. The Victorian masses no longer had a bedrock of tradition and Biblical scripture to stand upon; it had been dashed to pieces by fossilized rocks and the skulls of apelike men. The poet laureate of the age, Alfred, Lord Tennyson, the voice of the Victorian people, expresses his horror and bewilderment at the implications of these scientific discoveries in “In Memoriam A. H. H.” In sections 54, 55, and 56 of this lengthy poem, Tennyson finds his belief in God weakened and his faith foundering in the face of scientific fact.

In the face of evolution, geology, and natural selection, …

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…eration of evidence he cannot deny. He is wounded by God’s apparent betrayal of humanity and desperate for an answer, but there is none forthcoming. It took years for the wounds inflicted by science on the faithful to heal. Some Victorians chose agnosticism as their new philosophy of God; if someone could prove to them His Existence, then they would believe. Others chose to become atheists. Atheism stated that there was no God, no afterlife, and no divine creator. While neither of these theologies was very popular during the Victorian period, they have continued to exist. The citizens like Tennyson who attempted to reconcile their old faith with their new knowledge had to find ways to blend the two together, to show that it was possible for God to work through Nature to achieve His ends. They had to gather together the dust of Earth, and with it shape a Heaven.

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