Analysis Of British Imperialism In Punch

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The very fact that uprisings occurred and were repressed implies an attack and a counterattack between two rival parties, each with their supporters and detractors. Punch was quick in siding with Britain against the rebels and in promoting national unity in the face of colonial ‘savagery’. Rather than emphasising how the unrest in India and Jamaica disrupted the supply of the material resources they contributed to the metropolis, Punch focused on the threat posed to the advance of the civilising mission. In so doing, it celebrated and conformed to the ethical and political ideologies of British imperialism discussed in the previous part. Punch depicted the people who carried out the suppression of the revolts as having ‘saved’ the two territories…show more content…
In Punch, the highest moral authorities were therefore depicted siding with the metropolis during the Indian Mutiny. Queen Victoria was portrayed kneeling among mournful women and children, and gazing up toward the sky in an appeal to God for the victory of her soldiers. She holds a child in her arms to symbolise her closeness to her people and her sympathy with the family of those who risk their lives to protect Britain's interests. Her prayer to the ‘God of battles [to] steel [her] soldiers' hearts’5 comes from a line in Shakespeare's Henry V, which is a way of symbolically associating Englishness and devotion to God through a reference to one of Britain's best-known writers. The metropolis is therefore presented as a pious nation whose women are humbling themselves in order to obtain divine protection for their male relatives, who are fighting for a righteous cause, that of securing the establishment of Western values, including Christianity. One fictitious letter also demonstrates that the metropolis is right in suppressing the Mutiny, because God has supposedly granted man the capacity to avenge himself if need be. Referring to the shock that Britain experienced upon learning about the violent uprising, the writer thus says: ‘doubtless the burning indignation which such crimes excite arises from a sentiment implanted in man, on purpose, to secure the punishment of atrocious criminals.’6 He concedes that ‘execution is vengeance,’ and ‘chapter and verse are quoted against revenge,’ but adds that ‘chapter and verse must be construed reasonably.’ In a sense, Punch dismisses the Bible on the grounds that it does not make provision for the specific situation of Britain at this time. The message of peace and forgiveness conveyed by the

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