This website uses cookies to ensure you have the best experience. Learn more

Jamaica Kincaid's Essay On Seeing England For The First Time

2318 words - 9 pages

Jamaica Kincaid's essay On Seeing England for the first Time

"It's shit being Scottish! We're the scum of the fucking earth! Some people hate the English. I don't. They're just wankers. We're the ones what were colonised by wankers. We couldn't even pick a decent bunch of people to be colonised by."
-Irvine Welsh, Trainspotting

The cultural ties to empire are not so easy to efface as the political ones. This is perhaps one of the most important lessons the world has learned from the mass movement towards independence on the part of European colonies in the past half-century. Even we Americans, more than two hundred years after having rejected the British monarchy and all it stands for, are forever poking our noses in the supermarket tabloids to find out what crisis either Diana or Fergie is embroiled in this week. Have we progressed so little? Don't we owe it to ourselves to pay our own culture the tribute which is its due?

This is one of the many questions that Jamaica Kincaid's essay, "On Seeing England for the first Time," raises. Being a "colonial" herself, she is forever being forced to question where her cultural loyalty should lie. Is she first and foremost an Englishwoman? An African? An Antiguan? Kincaid's essay is an attempt to come to terms with her own identity by exploring the influence of a colonial culture on her daily life as a child as well as on her education. She inundates the reader with "English images," just as she was once inundated with them as a schoolgirl. We sicken of the surfeit of imagery just as she must have when every waking moment, an image of England somehow wormed its way into her consciousness. "Made in England . . . those three words . . . ran through every part of my life, no matter how small" (352).

Never, in the first part of the essay, does she explicitly show the reader her contempt for the image of England that was foisted upon her as a child, or for those people who forced the image down her throat until she was sickened by it. Yet an explicit affirmation of this hatred is not necessary; the reader is quick to appreciate the irony and utter absurdity of her situation and that of Antigua. Kincaid makes us want to condemn the imperialistic attitudes which fostered this indoctrination of English values and also the supposition that this culture was somehow inherently superior to any other. By putting her readers in her own position, and by appealing to their sense of the absurd, Kincaid is very effectively able to elicit sympathy.

Kincaid was never prepared for England as it is; all she had to go on was the idea of England that was presented to her as a child. She never had a single real tie to England: "No one I knew had ever been and returned to tell me about it. All the people I knew who had gone to England had stayed there" (356). In England she is conscious of the fact that she is an outsider. She is made to feel this way by the difference she perceives between the English and...

Find Another Essay On Jamaica Kincaid's essay On Seeing England for the first Time

Annie John's Farewell Breakfast: A New Criticism Paper on a Passage from Jamaica Kincaid's novel "Annie John"

921 words - 4 pages were in a "festive mood" (135). Festive is defined as being joyful or merry ( Unabridged). Annie John also says that her mother went on and on about what a good time she would have in her new life, what a wonderful opportunity this was for her, and what a lucky person she was (136). This type of attitude towards Annie John does not seem to be one that would bring resentment from Annie John, in fact, it seems most like an attitude of

Narrative Women in Context in Jamaica Kincaid's The Autobiography of My Mother and Virginia Woolf's The Voyage Out

2643 words - 11 pages disintegrates in the light of oppression for her character, Rachel, as it does for Kincaid's Xuela. Rachel describes "that moment when the white flowers from the cedar tree started to fall to the ground with a silence that I could hear, their petals at first still fresh, a soft kiss of pink and white, then a day later, crushed, wilted and brown, a nuisance to the eye" (Internet source) provides insight into the subjugation of the natural that

My first time driving on the turnpike

704 words - 3 pages I had recently taken my practical Driver License exam. I had taken it in an empty parking lot, quite different from the crowded expressways, and very comfortable for first time drivers. For the exam, I drove a compact, black, brand-new, rented Toyota Yaris. It was the lightest car I have ever driven. Amazingly, I felt comfortable inside it! I was not nervous at that moment. That day, I was driving on the Turnpike South Extension North, from

Narrative essay, fictional, "The first time I got Pulled Over"

853 words - 3 pages The First Time I Got Pulled Over                  Everyone gets pulled over by a cop eventually, but if you're one of the lucky ones that don't, well good for you. Authority figures are always intimidating, especially police officers and sheriffs. If you want to ruin your day deliberately, the best way to do it is get pulled over.         My traumatic incident all began about two summers ago. My day started out as any normal

Vikings: The first Norman king of England

1036 words - 4 pages never reached Vinland. Turning back, they returned to Greenland and by the end of the first week of winter they landed at Lysufiord, Norway where Thorstein fell ill and died. The following Spring, his wife Gudrida returned to settlement Greenland of Brattahlíð, called Ericsfiord at the time. In 1009 AD, Thorfinn Karlsefni (Thorfinn the Valiant), with three ships that contained livestock and 160 (some sources say 250) men and women, sailed south

On Borrowed Time Essay

717 words - 3 pages On Borrowed time essay " What do you think is going to happen, Northup, in the next few days when people find out there's no more death?" Act II Scene III. (p. 230) Why death? What's wrong with death? What is death? Why are people so afraid of death? It sounds really familiar to us. It occurs to every one of us anytime in our life. No one could possibly predict it. Death is like a natural process. Death shows a lot of meaning to us in the

Advice for a first time college student

1125 words - 5 pages . There is a diverse group of people entering college for the first time and you are sure to find someone who is experiencing many of the same fears as you.Planning and managing my time were the most beneficial first steps for me. When I first started the semester I was in a panic all the time. My head was spinning trying to manage my life and get everything done. I could not get the thought of failing out of my head. All of my thoughts about


747 words - 3 pages destination, I was absolutely fatigued. And to make matters worse, it was freezing and I needed to use the bathroom terribly. I reflect upon my day thinking What an adventure, you only experience something for the first time once in a life time. At least it was fun. Looking back on that day, which was definitely an experience I would not forget for a long time. The whole camp experience put me into situations and made me experience things I would never have tried otherwise. I reflect on the whole experience as a life lesson. To always try new things and to be adventurous in life as long as the thing we are doin

A Hero's First Death, an essay on Homer's The Odyssey

830 words - 3 pages time. It conjures an image of a father proudlydisplaying his new-born child to the world for the first time and announcing "here is my son,Odysseus." It really completes the image of Odysseus being reborn. In this story, there is a definite point when Odysseus dies. Then, Athena bears him, shegives him rebirth. In the same way Moses does not die until he is ready, Odysseus does not dieuntil he is ready. When he dies, he is waiting for it. Because Odysseus is not resurrected (instead,he is reborn as a different person) this story also demonstrates the rule that people who have seensomething terrible cannot just go home.

Seeing Eye Dogs and Their Impact on the Blind

1788 words - 7 pages comfort knowing that not only do they have a reliable service dog to help them with their needs, they also have a companion for life. Guide dogs are loyal and will obey their owner to keep them out of harm’s way. Seeing Eye dogs, with their features, demanding preparation and reliable aid have an effect on the blind that allows them to lead active, independent lives. These dedicated canines not only help the blind person they are assisting, but they

for the First Time In History, College Students Make a Corny Commercial

1175 words - 5 pages have been working on to the group it makes me very nervous. When our team met for the first time we decided to pick the two formats we should use for our project by eliminating what we did not want to do, namely sing, give a scripted speech, put on a play, or lecture on the Logical Fallacies of the sources we could find. This left debating and a movie trailer. We agreed that my bizarre announcer voice would work and decided on using the movie

Similar Essays

On Seeing England For The First Time

510 words - 2 pages Jensen 1 Kincaid's "On Seeing England for the First Time" In this essay titled, On Seeing England for the First Time Jamaica Kincaid subtly argues that England's vain dominating presence, produced from the common admiration for England, played a negative role in her life. Kincaid develops this claim of England by battling the reality of England versus her childhood idea of England. Since this is the beginning of her work not only is the purpose

"On Seeing England For The First Time" By J. Kincaid

504 words - 3 pages Jamaica Kincaid grew up on the dependent island of Antigua. As a result of this, she had a very biased outlook on what England meant. She wrote about how some thought highly of the country, but she had other ideas regarding England.In the opening of the passage, Kincaid uses plenty of imagery to illustrate how England was first shown to her. It was displayed in such a way that it was made out to be more beautiful than it really was. Due to the

The Gap Between Fact And Fiction Jamaica Kincaid "On Seeing England For The First Time" V. S. Naipaul "Jasmine" Discussing Myths In Society

1213 words - 5 pages Myths occur as popular beliefs in varying aspects of societies today; these conceivable notions create a rollercoaster of emotions for the beholder. Whether a myth is instilled in someone by society or by themselves, the reality can be devastating, and oftentimes can take away from life’s enjoyment. Jamaica Kincaid explains in her essay “On Seeing England for the First Time” the same concept that V. S. Naipaul demonstrates in

The Existence Of Absence In Keats' "On Seeing The Elgin Marbles For The First Time"

1941 words - 8 pages In his sonnet "On Seeing the Elgin Marbles for the First Time," John Keats presents a series of various forms of conflict and tension. Most prominent is the poet's sense of his own fleeting existence juxtaposed with the eternity of the Greek marble sculptures and, perhaps, with the timelessness of art in general. However, there is another, more subtle tension between what is in existence, and what is not, an absence which paradoxically manifests