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Friday, May 22, 2009

Context of the Novel

In 1857 the British empire faced turmoil in its Indian colony when native soldiers revolted against the intrusion and unjust treatment of the British. Though the Indian experienced some early victory, the British quickly put down the revolt, killing thousands of Indians in the process. Back in England, the press justified the killing of the rebels. One such publication was Household Words, a Dickens owned serial for which Wilkie Collins was a writer. Collins wrote "A Sermon for the Sepoys" for the publication uses a story from India's history to make a point that everyone should live in a way that benefits all humanity, not just oneself. Collins' point is that colonizers should stories from the Orient first, not Christian ones, in order to reform the Indians.

In presenting this point of view, Collins offered a more conciliatory attitude towards India than most of the British. He expressed an interest in seeing true reformation rather than just submission. This tone allowed him in the novel The Moonstone to be more accepting of Hindu beliefs rather than presenting those beliefs as paganistic and unsophisticated.

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