Date of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
This thesis is a study of Paul Scott’s best-known novel The Jewel in the Crown,
published in 1966. Scott noted that much of the research and writing on the British
Raj that ended in 1947, lacked an adequate understanding of the union that had
endured for more than three centuries. Scott believed too that many interpretations
of why the Raj ended relied too heavily on monolithic categories of “us and them”
and that they over-emphasized the socio-political and economic influences of
empire. He also believed that many scholars of the Raj ignored the love that existed
among all the people who lived in India (including Hindu, Muslim, British, and
Eurasian) and that, by failing to acknowledge the love, writers deprived their
readers of the joy inherent in those memories. Therefore, they were unable to offer
satisfactory explanations of why the Raj ended the way it did.
With his skill as an author, Scott used his novel to explain his philosophy of
history and to discuss the end of the British Raj by including the voices of the
individuals who experienced the Raj, those who represented it in all its complexity.
He placed his characters in a setting in northern India where they, and not the sociopolitical
and economic climate, played center stage. Through their interpersonal
exchanges, the characters revealed the thoughts, feelings, and emotions that
explained why they acted as they did during this period. The places in which they
did so retained their history and influenced the thoughts and behaviors of those
who followed, connecting past to present and having an impact on the future.
Scott used symbols and metaphors to reveal these connections, the two most
prominent being the MacGregor House and Bibighar Gardens. Both reflected
important aspects of Indo-British history, and they helped to explain the
relationship that existed at the end of the Raj. By relating the actions of those who
inhabited and visited these places, together with the histories of the places, Scott
allowed his readers to experience the past and, thus, to understand, not only how
the Raj had ended but, more significantly, why it had ended.
Paul Scott not only used his unique philosophy of history to explain why the
Raj ended the way it did, but also showed that decency and integrity were the acme
of human interaction and that both could be found in all humans, no matter their
race or their station in life. In his novel the characters revealed their intentions and
character and Scott believed that both were foundational to history because the
consequences at the nexus of personal interactions could not be predetermined.
They could only be recorded by the places in which they occurred and then
remembered by people in the future who frequented these places.
Scott was not dogmatic in his approach, but he metaphorically guided his
readers through the novel in order to explore, not only what had happened, but also
why. By revealing his unique philosophy of history, he succeeded in sharing with
his readers the joy of the Indo-British relationship, with all of its love, complexities,
and concurrent difficulties.
Nedegaard, Kathryn Ann Hughes, "Paul Scott's "The Jewel In The Crown": A Novelist's Philosophy Of History And The End Of The British Raj" (2016). Theses and Dissertations. 1937.