Date of Award

January 2016

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

History

First Advisor

Gordon Iseminger

Abstract

ABSTRACT

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.

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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.

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