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The Post-Colonial Theory of the Large European Empires Analytical Essay


The post-colonial theory represents the tendency in the humanitarian sciences which has become urgent since the second half of the XX century. Its area of study encompasses the problems of the interaction between the colonizers and their colonies. It focuses on the social development of nations being under control of the large European empires.

After the proclamation of independence of many colonies, the scholars concentrated their attention on the issues of their societies and the hard way for their complete recovery from the foreign nations supremacy.

Moreover, the post-colonial theory uncovers the esthetic outlook, ethic views and perception of the reality of the colonial societies in light of such problems as national identity, self-realization, independence, freedom and others.


Giglamesh: A Verse Narrative is the book published by Herbert Manson in 1971. The plot of the book is based on the ancient Babylonian legend telling about the king Giglamesh and his life struggle for friendship and the life values. Although the original story traces back to the ancient times, its interpretation by Manson allows relating it to the post-colonial theory.

In particular, the main character of the story overcomes the fixed notions about the life values of his society and puts all his efforts to bring his best friend back to life. As regards William Shakespeare’s The Tempest, this work can also be characterized in light of post-colonial theory, though the play was written long before the theory formulation.

We know from the plot of the play that Prospero, one of its main characters, settled in the uninhibited island and started, actually, to control it. However, there was one inhabitant called Caliban. Caliban struggled against Prospero as he thought that he captured the island. He even tried to overthrow Prospero and expel him from the island.

Thing Fall Apart is the novel by Chinua Achebe, the outstanding Nigerian author. His work can be directly related to the post-colonial theory. Okonkwo, the main character of the novel, is the representative of the African ethnicity. Although the life of his nation had never been simple, the troubles had come when the colonizers arrived at their land.

The compulsory measures undertaken by the white people provoked the mass resentment of the local people. The conflict caused by the colonial intervention disrupted the traditional order in their community. Okonkwo becomes the victim of the colonialism. When the new government of his land initiated the court trial against him, he committed suicide.

Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad is also devoted to the life of the indigenous people under the rules and control of the colonial government. The plot of the novel is centered on the memories of the main character to the Central Africa.

The main character narrates about the mood and environment in the visited community. The social tension and distress is felt all over the village. The artificial spreading of the cultural norms and traditions which are extraneous to the aborigines makes harm to their life.


Literature works contributed a lot to the development of the post-colonial theory. The art of word promoted the formulation and expression of the main ideas of the theory. The works of Herbert Manson and William Shakespeare represented the bright examples of the human relationships under certain social orders. These examples serve as a background for post-colonial ideas expression.

It can be stated that the literature has become the mediator for the post-colonial theory. For instance, the moral of Giglamesh: A Verse Narrative touches upon the problem of change in the realization of the highest life values as distinct from the social order and the format of relationships in the society.

In The Tempest, several episodes also relate to the post-colonial theory and make us think about the issues of social alienation and its consequences. In particular, the alienation of Prospero and its proscription from Milano are closely interconnected with his own authoritativeness in the island and the alienation of Caliban as well.

Probably, these episodes reflect the idea that the social alienation and expatriation of certain people give rise to the banishment of others. The social alienation is not only the problem of the outcasts because very often the roots of this problem are in the whole society which banished them. The unethical behavior of certain groups leads to the social fall of others.

Unfortunately, not all of them are able to recover their feet. Many deviate from the ethical norms to which they adhered earlier and begin to be led by example of those who banished them. However, these ideas became obvious in the post-colonial theory in the subsequent centuries. From the Shakespeare’s work, we can only find the social themes which will be explained at the time of the epoch of colonialism fall.

In Thing Fall Apart, Chinua Achebe shows the harmful influence of the external interference on the life of people. The relationships between the colonizers and the local people are the main theme of his novel. The use of force caused the social disorder in the community. The social protests and mutinies had been scotched hard.

The author gives us the occasion to think about whether such measures justify the proclaimed well-being and cultural development which the colonizers are believed to bring in the colonies. Thing Fall Apart can be described as the bright object of the post-colonial theory study. It is interesting to note that the novel has been prohibited in Malaysia due to its keen critique of the colonialism.

As regards Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad, the plot of the novel clearly uncovers the dark side of the colonial interference. In addition, the novel is enriched with the literature art techniques making the readers involved in the colonial environment. While reading the novel, we are obtaining the vision of the way of life in the colony. Moreover, the author tries to make us feel the hard atmosphere in the village.

The emotional element of the novel’s plot characterizes it as the perfect source of gaining the understanding of what it likes to live under the strict control of others. In Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad put the important message to the public. In particular, he tells us that the force and compulsion can hardly be the tools of achieving prosperity.

Although the activity of the colonizers accelerated the technological and educational development in the colonies, the moral trauma which their activity caused to the local people overwhelmed the benefits. I support the idea that the real benefits of the social progress can be gained only if it is based on freedom and ethical principles.

That is why we can say that the literature serves as a mediator for the post-colonial theory as it helps to inform the public about its main ideas and moral. Besides, it gives the ideas for further discussions.


However, the analyzed works of Herbert Manson and William Shakespeare are not the representatives of the post-colonial theory as a whole. Only some of its pieces can be referred to the formulation of the theory ideas. The other parts do not directly relate to them. Rather, they are the results of the literature tendencies in the times of their writing.

For example, the presence of spirit as the character of the play characterizes The Temple as the bright example of the literature style of the play writers of the XVI-XVII centuries. The themes of love and marriage are also independent from the main ideas of the post-colonial theory.

They rather uncover the fundamental ethical and moral values of people and do not directly relate to the conflict between the colonizer and the colony which is the primary object of interest in the post-colonial theory.

In the work of Herbert Manson we only find the ideas of the post-colonial theory in the struggle of Giglamesh for the life of his best friend. However, we can barely state that the legend as a whole relates to the postulates of the theory.

Overall, only several pieces of the Manson and Shakespeare’s works are useful in the context of the post-colonial theory study.

The novels of Chinua Achebe and Joseph Conrad are the bright examples of the post-colonial field of study. They have been, undoubtedly, useful for the purposes of the research. The themes of both novels are relevant for the analysis of the post-colonial theory and its connections with literature.

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"The Post-Colonial Theory of the Large European Empires." IvyPanda, 29 Dec. 2019, ivypanda.com/essays/post-colonial-theory-2/.

1. IvyPanda. "The Post-Colonial Theory of the Large European Empires." December 29, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/post-colonial-theory-2/.


IvyPanda. "The Post-Colonial Theory of the Large European Empires." December 29, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/post-colonial-theory-2/.


IvyPanda. 2019. "The Post-Colonial Theory of the Large European Empires." December 29, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/post-colonial-theory-2/.


IvyPanda. (2019) 'The Post-Colonial Theory of the Large European Empires'. 29 December.

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