ادوارد مورگان فورستر رماننویس سرشناس بریتانیایی، در اوایل قرن بیستم با نوشتن رمان «گذری به هند» به شهرت جهانی رسید. او اولین رماننویس برجستهای است که از استعمار انگلیس در هند انتقاد کرد و همین موضع ضداستعماری فورستر موجب شد تا «گذری به هند» از دیدگاه نقد پسااستعماری قابلتحلیل باشد. این مقاله با روش توصیفی-تحلیلی به بررسی جایگاه فورستر در گفتمان پسااستعماری میپردازد و سپس به این سؤال پاسخ میدهد که رویکرد زنانِ رمان «گذری به هند» نسبتبه تجربۀ استعمار چگونه است. زنان در این رمان به سه گروه تقسیم میشوند؛ گروه اول، «زنان انگلیسی متأهلی» هستند که سرکوب استعماری را به شکلی منفعلانه پذیرفتهاند و در برخورد با بومیان، خطمشی استعمارگران را دنبال میکنند. گروه دوم، «زنان مجرد انگلیسی» هستند که درمقابل سرکوب استعماری مقاومت میکنند و درپی رهایی بومیان از سرکوب استعماری هستند. این گروه نتوانستهاست در موضع فمنیسم استعماری خود، خواستههای طیف متنوع زنان رمان را نمایندگی کند و درنتیجه با بازنمایی دلخواه خود به سرکوب زنان بومی کمک میکند. گروه سوم را «زنان هندی» تشکیل میدهند؛ آنها از سرکوبی سه لایه رنج میبرند.
عنوان مقاله [English]
Forster’s A Passage to India: A Postcolonial Feminist Approach
E. M. Forster, the great British novelist in the first half of twentieth century, achieved his worldwide fame by writing A passage to India. He is the first outstanding British novelist that criticizes in his novel British colonialism in India, and, this very factor has been the reason for the postcolonial analysis of the novel. Through a descriptive-analytic method, this paper presents the theory of postcolonial feminism, and then, investigates the position of Forster in postcolonial discourse. After, the approach of the novel’s women to colonialism is analyzed. There are three groups of women in A Passage to India: the first group are married British women who have passively accepted the colonial oppression. They follow the colonizer’s policy in their dealings with the natives. The single British women form the second group. The women of this group resist the British oppression and they intend to deliver the natives from such an oppression. From their postcolonial stance, this group fails to represent the demands of the native women with their variety of race, culture, and ethnicity. The second group of women suppress the native women through their representation. The third group of women in the novel are the native women who are triply oppressed.
Edward M. Forster was one of the most well-known British novelists in the twentieth century. Great part of his fame origins from his A Passage to India (1924). Written in a masterly style and having a coherent structure, the novel reflects the colonial experience of Britain in India. Unlike the novels that had partially dealt with the question of British colonialism, A Passage takes a critical stance to this question and this make the Forster’s work as the greatest “anti-colonial” novel in English literature (Morey, 2007: p. 254). Of course, it should be noted that the first half of twentieth century witnessed the decline and collapse of British empire and this context contributed to the formation of Forster’s thought and creation of his novel. Besides, the central role of women in the novel has made it possible to analyze the relationship between women and the colonial experience. In Passage, women show a range of reactions to colonialism, from supporting it to resisting against it. These two aspects of Forster’s novel has drawn the attention of postcolonial and feminist scholars.
With an analytic-descriptive method, this article introduces the basic concepts of postcolonial feminism, and then, studies the position of Forster in postcolonial discourse to analyze Forster’s women’s approach to the colonial experience. From postcolonial feminist perspective, this paper focuses on female characters in Passage and classifies them into three categories: Anglo-Indian women, single British Women, and Indian women. After, the reaction of each category to the experience of colonialism will be investigated. Furthermore, the application of postcolonial feminist approach to the novel will uncover the interaction among the three groups.
Feminist movement and postcolonialism have some common aspects. Women and the colonized find themselves similarly in a marginal status in regard to patriarchal and imperial system and they both attempt to find a resisting site in dominant space. Mohanty points out the feminist theory and criticism have always benefited from gender differences to define the identity of women. The result of such an emphasis on gender differences in relation to other non-western women has led to the formation of “third-world difference”. By creating such a difference “ the western feminists attempted to ‘colonize’ and appropriate the basic complexities and conflicts which were the characteristics of women’s life from different classes, religions, cultures, races, and social castes” (p. 260). Displaying the oppression of third world women through racial bias in western feminism, postcolonial feminism dislocates the centrality of gender in and tries to acknowledge the racial and social differences in women’s of postcolonial societies.
The Anglo-Indian women, the first group, place themselves in the position of colonizers in their dealings with the natives. The colonial principles and standards exist in the simplest form in their thoughts and they are placed in the position of the natives when compared with the men of colonial society. Colonial binaries makes them underlie their racial differences in relation to the natives. By introducing the single British women, the second group, in his novel, Forster ponders on the topic of women in colonial discourse. A study of their representation in Passage reveals the encounter between colonial power and its internal critics, on the one hand, and the second group’s tendency to appropriate all differences among women in its challenge to colonial power. The second group of women have failed to achieve all their goals. They have been mainly successful in inspiring change in native males (Dr. Aziz) to resist the colonial system. But, they have offered a monolithic image of women generally. Racial, ethnic, cultural, social varieties and the relevant experience of each of these conditions for the non-western women is rendered trivial in western feminism and it has led to a return to former structures of dominance and colonialism (Mohanty, p. 260). Passage shows that Forster is conscious of the painful condition of native women. The image of native women here corresponds with Spivak’s notion that if the male colonized are dominated by colonial rule, women in colonial societies suffer doubly. They are dominated both by colonial rule and their patriarchal societies (1988, p. 90-91).
Women in Passage can be divided into three groups. The first group includes the wives of colonial staff in India. In fact, they are female replica of male colonizers. They emphasize on colonial binaries and regard themselves superior to the natives racially and inferior to the British males because of their gender. Like the natives, they are exposed to colonial suppression and are generally passive. The second group, the single british women, are considerably active. They claim that they want to establish a bridge between themselves and the natives and criticize the colonial experience. They are more responsive to the oppression of male natives but show no interest in speaking out the oppression the native females or Anglo-females suffer. They can be regarded as representatives of white feminism that ignores racial and cultural differences particular to native women. They are responsible for the formation of a new kind of suppression within the discourse of feminism. The third group are native women in the novel. They are, similar to the first group, exposed to direct oppression but for them it is tripled. Firstly, the colonial structure oppresses them and this oppression is intensified by patriarchal dominance over them. Their painful oppression if enhanced further when they are ignored by western feminism and thereby represented by them.
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