Indian Mutiny part 2

1. “Mrs. Kirke … had that instant seen her husband [Dr. Winlow Kirke] shot before her eyes; and on her crying ‘Kill me too!’ they answered, ‘No, we have killed you in killing him.’ They spared her little boy” (Anthology 906).

I know that this is not the main point of the reading, but I couldn’t help but react strongly to the individual representations provided in this account of the Indian rebels’ attack on an English family. First off, the rebels declared that in killing Mrs. Kirke’s husband, they killed her, as well. How terrible for a women’s very survival to be so dependent upon her husband! Could she truly not survive without a man in the 19th century society of imperial Britain? Secondly, why is Mrs. Kirke asking to die?! She has a son who’s standing right next to her. Is her financial, emotional, or social despair at losing her husband so great that it eclipses her maternal instincts?

As an outside party living in the 21st century who didn’t have to witness the death of loved ones, I, of course, can afford to be judgmental, but I really did have issues with this passage.

2. John Nicholson, quoted in John Kaye, History of the Sepoy War in India: “It is necessary to all Eastern lands to establish a fear and awe of the Government…” (Anthology 909).

Nicholson ends his account with this line, using it as one justification for showing no mercy to the Indian rebels who murdered the women and children at Delhi. By painfully punishing the rebels, Nicholson hopes to achieve obedience and submission through fear. To maintain power through fear or love is often a question which those in power must consider. In Tim Burton’s Alice, the Red Queen ponders this very issue, and after she discovers that those in her court have been deceiving her, she tells her henchman, “You’re right Stayne. It is far better to be feared than loved.” Because the Red Queen is the “bad guy” in the film, Burton suggests that using fear is not the correct method. However, returning to the English and Indian rebels, Nicholosn is also promoting the use of ruling through fear due to the atrocities that the rebels committed. Does this make it an acceptable exception?

The Queen of Hearts in Tim Burton's Alice film
The Queen of Hearts in Tim Burton’s Alice film

3. Sita Ram, From Sepoy to Subedar: “The prisoners were to be shot at four o’clock in the afternoon and I must be my son’s executioner!” (Anthology 910).

This horrific account of Sita Ram, an Indian solider in the British army, who had to beg not to kill his own mutinous son, reminded me of the Civil War in America. Family members fought against one another to prove their loyalty to either the Union or the Confederacy. It seems almost worse for Ram. Here he is, in his own country of India, and he’s forced to prove his loyalty to the imperialistic English Government by not just killing his own people but potentially his son, as well.

Screen Shot 2015-11-06 at 3.36.15 PM
American Civil War

4. Thomas Babington Macaulay, Life and Letters: “But [it] is painful to be so revengeful as I feel myself … [S]hall we not hold human life generally cheaper than we have done? Having brought ourselves to exult in the misery of the guilty, shall we not feel less sympathy for the sufferings of the innocent?” (Anthology 911).

I really liked Thomas Macaulay’s account because he seemed very sincere and pensive with his thoughts. While he acknowledged his own desire for retribution against the Indian rebels, he also considered the moral ramifications on the English people. He poses a difficult question. Honestly, if hundreds of American women and children were murdered, I would possibly want revenge, too.

Also, this account reminded me a little bit of Carroll’s discussion on vivisection. Yes, one can argue that there are justifications for experimenting on animals, but what about the moral souls of those doing the experiments?


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