The Colonization Of Stevens Essay, Research Paper
The Colonization of Stevens
In the year 1954, two years prior to the setting of Ishiguro’s The Remains of the Day, the Suez canal was returned once again to the government of Egypt putting an abrupt end to the English imperialism and colonialism that had extended throughout centuries. The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro serves as a conceit for the rejection of the British Empire by its colonized subjects. Much like the narrator of the novel, Stevens, personifies the dynasty of the British Empire, his realization of the extensive price his “dignity” has cost him symbolizes the colonial subjects’ realization that their freedom was bought at a price as well.
By succumbing to his “dignity”, Stevens, the ‘great’ English butler also loses much of his self-rule, as did the colonies of the Empire. The subjects of these colonies were led to believe that their voices were heard and valued, as in a democracy, but once acquired the English Parliament paid little attention to the citizens other than as means to a profit. Just as the colonies realized the extent of their dependency on the British Empire, Stevens too realizes the impact of placing his whole existence into the misguided hands of Lord Darlington. Stevens finally admits the foolishness of his devotion to Darlington, a devotion that cost him much of his life.
“Lord Darlington wasn’t a bad man. He wasn’t a bad man at all. And at least he had the priviledge of being able to say at the end of his life that he made his own mistakes. His lordship was a courageous man. He chose a certain path in life, it proved to be a misguided one, but there, he chose it, he can say that at least. As for myself, I cannot even claim that. You see, I trusted. I trusted in his lordship’s wisdom. All those years I served him, I trusted I was doing something worthwhile. I can’t even say I made my own mistakes. Really- one has to ask oneself- what dignity is there in that?” (p. 201)
Stevens believed in the end that he had made his life a waste by placing it in the hands of his social betters. He was engulfed in a system of hierarchy that, in the end, forgot about him completely. He does not define himself outside the boundaries of his subordinate position of Lord Darlington and, just as the territories of the British Empire, he finds himself colonized and unable to change. The hierarchy, which brings “dignity”, is the very same system that strips autonomy from its subjects.