Author Archives: David Beyea

What I Hope to Learn This Semester

So I’m going to elaborate upon my earlier-stated desire of what to learn in this class (that being as to whether or not the writers of the Victorian era ever expressed any guilt or apprehension over their exploitation of different cultures and their resources). The reason for my curiosity is the distinct lack of self-awareness in the previous centuries of European existence over the conquering of others and unchecked usage of resources. Of course the vast majority of civilizations over the globe did this as well, but seeing as how the Europeans emerged as the dominant global force after the middle ages, they are held under higher scrutiny. So, at a period when standards of living, inter-connectivity between cultures, education, and availability of resources were all higher than ever, I wonder if Victorians ever really wondered the true price of their elevation. Great Britain controlled a quarter of the world, and most of the resources were stripped away to support maybe 5% at most of the population living in Britain proper. Up to this point, it was seen as normal for populations to be enslaved by the conquerors and their resources taken for the “greater good” of the entity, be that a monarch, a nation-state, or some other powerful force; that’s just how things worked. Was it in the Victorian age that some finally grew a conscience and started to question if their actions were worth it?

Note: (I am aware of the “White Man’s Burden” narrative justifying the actions, which leads me to believe that they had to justify it to someone).