Characteristics of Modernism in Jewel in the Crown and Heart of Darkness
A Modern novel, Jewel in the Crown, by Paul Scott, depicts the latter stages of imperialism's erosion and explores it through the lives of individuals and their relationships as symbolic of larger societal conflicts and political events. Jewel was written well into the 20th Century and employs thematic concepts and literary forms characteristic of Modernism, as well as being significant in its literary-historical context of the decline of British Imperialism/post- colonialism in India.
"Some of the major issues to which twentieth century literature responded in ways generally known as 'Modernism' are: a growing awareness of a variety of cultures which had differing but cogent world-views; exploitation of other cultures and races, and a society built on power and greed" (Lye, 1996). The fact that Modern literature explored these issues with more scrutiny, candor, and depth than previous literary eras. "This is the story of rape, of the events that led to it and followed it and of the place in which it happened" (Scott, 1966). The rape is of a young British women in colonial India, but also of the rape of India by Britain, "the affair...ended with the spectacle of two nations in violent opposition, not for the first time nor as yet for the last because they were then still locked in an imperial embrace of such long standing and subtlety it was no longer possible for them to know whether they hated or loved on another, or what held them together and seemed to have confused the image of their two destinies" (Scott, 1966). The events, interactions, and sentiments of Daphne, the woman in question, and those of the other characters are symbolic of actual historical events and the sentiments of the societies themselves.
Jewel also displays some Modernistic experimentation of narrative frame in which an anonymous "stranger" narrator, who is not directly involved with the events of the story, gathers multiple viewpoints of key events through interviews with the different characters. "The stranger collects oral and written testimony, interviewing people-witnesses who are still alive-about events and people of the past, in order to examine and understand the final phases of British/Indian history" (Agatucci, 2001). This makes for a kind of documentary based on fiction as the incidences are recounted as seen through the eyes of many individuals. "Perspectivism: the locating of meaning from the viewpoint of the individual; the use of narrators located within the action of the fiction, experiencing from a personal particular perspective, and the use of many voices, contrasts and contestations of perspective" (Lye, 1996). This devise of narration, the replay of events as told by different characters to emphasize the different p oints of view, appears to be unique to Modern works.