What is the contribution of the novel to colonialism?



What is the contribution of the novel to colonialism?

  • The novel originated in Europe at a time when it was colonising the rest of the world.
  • The early novel contributed to colonialism by making the readers feel they were part of a superior community of fellow colonialists.
  • The hero of Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe is an adventurer and slave trader. His ship wrecked on an island; Crusoe treats coloured people not as human beings equal to him but as inferior creatures. He rescues a ‘native’ and makes him his slave and calls him ‘Friday’.
  • Crusoe’s behaviour was not seen as unacceptable as most of the writers of that time saw colonialism as natural.
  • Colonised people were seen as primitive and barbaric less than human, and colonial rule was considered necessary to civilise them, to make them fully human.
  • It was later in the 20th century that some novelists depicted the darker side of colonial occupation.