Saturday, July 5, 2014

Wales Trip Day 1

Well it has been a whole 24 hours since I left San Jose.  I am writing from my new flat in Cardiff.  I live in a tiny room, located in a small home, on Woodville Road in Cardiff.  Twenty-four hours ago, I left my family and friends in San Jose and embarked on a new adventure.  I left not knowing what would befall me.  The day before I left I heard my visa was denied but after discussing the possibilities with my Professor, I decided to come anyway.  On the plane I first sat next to a kind English gentleman named Robert.  We spoke for awhile about England and the Bay Area.  He then traded out his seat with his young son, Toby, who after our introductions began watching some sort of car movie.  Toby was a nice boy and behaved quite well throughout the journey. 
On my right, was a rather attractive Swede named Elin.  (pronounced A-leen) She lives in the United States and goes to school at DeAnza.  She was very pleasant and we spoke for several hours.  I tried to nap but never met with success.  (this means I am writing this without having slept in 30 hours—yikes)
When we disembarked I made it through a very long line at Customs and they let me through to go learn Welsh.  I quickly left Heathrow for the comforts of my old haunts in Kensington, where I topped up my phone, got internet, ran some quick errands, and got lunch/dinner/breakfast at Pret and cookies at Ben’s Cookies.  Then I booked it to Paddington Station as I thought that my train to Cardiff was leaving soon.  When I got there, I printed my tickets and rushed to the platform to find that I still had a two hour wait.  Not wanting to leave the station I sat down next to the bronze Paddington Bear and devoured my sandwich and then proceeded to doze.  That lasted for nearly an hour and then I grew nervous that if I fell asleep I would miss my train—so I passed the next hour watching pigeons. 
When it came time to embark on my journey to Cardiff, I boarded the train and found a seat next to some middle aged women returning to Cardiff from a day in London.  They seemed safe enough, until I realized that they had had a bit too much to drink and were quite loud.  They were pleasant and their accents were charming so their loudness was easily overlooked.  They were a group of secondary school teachers celebrating the retirement of one of their number.  Throughout the train they grew louder and louder as the wine bottles grew empty and the corks from champagne bottles flew through the air. 
The English Countryside is truly lovely.  As we trained along, I kept looking out and seeing tiny hamlets and villages with church spires, fields, and quaint cottages that seemed oh so inviting.  Maybe I am not a city person after all.  Finally we crossed the Welsh Border, and the signs gained many consonants and lost all of their vowels.  I arrived in Cardiff, relieved to have made it to my destination and anxious for a shower and bed.  I took the first taxi leaving the station for my new address on Woodville Road and spoke with the charming driver, Phil, about the Welsh Language, History, the history of Brittany, and the linguistic parallels between Welsh and Breton.  He was just great.  6 pounds lighter, I arrived at my new home and immediately left to go find groceries before all the shops closed.

Going to Tesco was nearly a religious experience as I found so many foods that I thought I had tasted for the last time.  Heavily laden with lamb, pork, pasta, and vegetables, I returned home.  There, I received my room assignment and immediately went up stairs to start unpacking.  The layout of the room was completely unsuitable so I moved furniture for a little while and now I am quite settled.  As it looks like it is time for bed I am signing off.  Until tomorrow,  Hwyl!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Lady Flora Hastings: A Window into Upper-Class 19th Century British Gender Roles

The 19th Century is often depicted as rigid, honorable, uptight, and stoic.  The heroes, praised in poem, song, book, and preserved in memory, include such worthy examples as Lord Uxbridge, a hero at the Battle of Waterloo, who famously lost a leg to a cannon ball. Upon being struck by the ball, Lord Uxbridge turned to the Duke of Wellington and said, “By God sir! I’ve lost my leg,” to which the grand old Duke replied, “By God sir! So you have.”  Lord Uxbridge then continued to lead his men during the battle as if nothing hampered him.  In 19th Century England, to be English meant to be the embodiment of honor and virtue.  In turn honor and virtue reflected not only your character, but the character of your family and your upbringing. 
Among the upper and middle classes, honor was central to life.  Gentlemen and ladies lived by codes of conduct that forbade certain activities and encouraged restraint and dignity.  The home was sacrosanct and the family comprised the priests and priestesses to her cult—the Cult of Domesticity.  The pantheon enshrined mother and child.  Women were to be honored, loved, respected, and adored.  Ladies were synonymous with virtue, paragons of decorum, and were to live lives above reproach.  To aid ladies maintain lives of devoted decorum, they were to reside at home with a chaperone and could not maintain a household until they were married and provided for. 
Sharon Crozier-de Rosa, in her work titled, “Marie Corelli’s British New Woman: A Threat to Empire,” argues that as the middle class became more established and gained power in their own right, the ideals of womanhood started to shift.  This shift gave middle class woman more freedom in society by loosening restrictions based on gender roles.[1]  In A Grocer’s Tale: Gender, Family, and Class in 19th Century Manchester, Hannah Barker makes the argument that middle class women were not more free, however, their circumstances sometimes required them to abandon gender roles—causing dishonor.  Barker argues that upper class women had more freedom within gender roles because of their access to education, money, and society.[2]  This argument is supported in William Manchester’s biography of Winston Churchill, when Manchester describes the sexual liberty of upper class women in late Victorian England.[3]
The idealized view of womanly comportment was equally inflexible for upper class women; however, because of their positions as leaders of fashion, and, in the case of a select few, as political leaders, upper class women had to balance their gender role with their social and political roles.  Thus when Princess Victoria of Kent became Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom, she had to balance both her roles as sovereign and of young lady.  As sovereign she presided over a household—her own.  As a young lady, she made up part of her mother’s household.  As young lady and sovereign her household had to be without blemish or stain of dishonor.  Her example set the social parameters of the realm and would be emulated by families from every element of the social strata.
When it came to Queen Victoria’s attention that an unmarried lady, residing at the palace, was in the family way, she had no choice but to investigate the matter thoroughly.  As sovereign, her every move was reported and talked of.  Accordingly, the investigation of Lady Flora Hastings, lady-in-waiting to the Duchess of Kent—Victoria’s mother, caused a scandal that rocked the personal popularity of the monarch, threatened to overthrow the government, and focused the national eye on core values and their implementation.  The sad tale of Lady Flora Hastings illustrates the supreme importance of adherence to the established gender roles in the household and in the family during the 19th Century.
While the London Times provides much information regarding the Lady Flora Hastings Affair, periodicals such as the Satirist, John Bull, and the Age provide more in depth information concerning what people thought during the affair.  Accordingly, this paper relies heavily on information garnered from these periodicals because of their sweeping clarity on contemporary views of gender roles in regard to the Lady Flora Hastings Affair.
Historical Overview
                Victoria’s childhood was replete with trials.  Her father died when Victoria was very young and she was raised exclusively by her mother, the Duchess of Kent, and her mother’s comptroller, Sir John Conroy.  Conroy sought to dominate Victoria’s mother and hoped that by controlling the Duchess of Kent he could control the future Queen.  He devised a method for raising the young princess, called the Kensington System, that kept Victoria isolated from her peers and the King’s court.  She was not allowed to sleep in her own bedroom, but had to share one with her mother.  She was not allowed to read popular books, or attend social gatherings at court and thus she became resentful towards her mother and her mother’s faction.  Her only ally growing up was her governess, the Baroness Lehzen.  When Victoria received the news that she was Queen, her first act was to spend an hour alone—her first ever, and to order that she be given a room of her own.
                Upon ascending to the throne she moved from Kensington Palace to Buckingham Palace, becoming the first monarch to take up residence there.  Victoria wished to use this move, separate her household from her mother’s but her Prime Minister, Lord Melbourne advised her against it.  She was immediately popular with the people and enjoyed the new freedoms she experienced.  Her household came to be dominated by her former governess, Baroness Lehzen.  As Lehzen was fiercely anti-Conroy, and Conroy was the dominating force in the Duchess of Kent’s household, tensions grew.  Partisans eagerly awaited the opportunity to disturb the peace and in May of 1839 an opening was presented in the form of the Lady Flora Hastings. 
                Lady Flora Hastings was the daughter of a formerly influential Tory Lord.  Victoria’s faction was dominated by Whigs, the political opponent to the Tory Party.  Lady Flora was fiercely loyal to Sir John Conroy and had supported the Duchess and Sir John while Victoria was under the Kensington System and for this reason Victoria resented her.  Thus when Lady Flora returned to the palace from the countryside late at night accompanied by Conroy and appeared the next day feeling ill and with a swollen stomach rumors began to fly.  The circumstances being suspect and out of character with 19th century morality, Lady Flora was assumed pregnant by Sir John Conroy—out of wedlock.
                Several notable ladies of the court reported the gossip to the Queen and Victoria believed them.  She ordered Lady Flora barred from the Royal presence and sent a doctor to examine her.  At first Lady Flora objected and claimed innocence.  She appealed to her own doctor, who wrote the Queen to tell her that Lady Flora was not to his knowledge pregnant.  But Victoria insisted that Sir James Clark, her own personal physician, perform a naked examination to confirm Lady Flora’s virginity.  Without any alternative, Lady Flora consented to the examination, which confirmed her virginity.  The Queen apologized and all would have been well—however, the next morning, news of the affair was published in several reputable newspapers.
                The ensuing scandal decreased Victoria’s popularity.  The people sided with Lady Flora, who they thought was mistreated.  Lady Flora’s brother, the Marquis of Hastings demanded that Lord Melbourne—the Prime Minister, remove the gossiping ladies from the Court.  Lord Melbourne refused to do so.  The Dowager Marchioness Hastings, Lady Flora’s mother, wrote to demand that some sort of punishment be met to the offending ladies and again Lord Melbourne refused to take action.  The scandal became a rallying cry against the Whig government led by Melbourne and boosted Tory popularity.  Lady Flora achieved martyr status, as she died in June of 1839 from a cancerous tumor that caused her stomach to be distended.  Furthermore, by examining the actions of the partisans one can better understand the acceptable gender roles in the upper-class Victorian household and family.
Main Body
Lady Flora, as a young woman member of the Court had several different roles to play.  She had to be the epitome of a virtuous young single woman in the care of and caring for the Duchess of Kent, she had to be a virtuous example, to the young women outside the Court, of moral rectitude, and she had to demonstrate her devotion to her family as she upheld the honor of the Hastings family.
Foremost, as a member of the Duchess’ household, Lady Flora had to be the in forma substantiae, the essence of an idealized young maiden attendant to the Duchess of Kent.  In an article from the Satirist, the authors make clear their view of the women at court as gossips and cynics.  They contrast the stereotypical idea of a lady-in-waiting with the old crones of court.  The article goes on to say that these old gossips would have been preoccupied with the appearance of Lady Flora and gone tattling to the Queen telling her that, “[the] condition of Lady Flora as being one of flagrant and notorious pregnancy, and insisted upon the disgrace which would accrue to the Court, from having an unmarried woman, in such a state, in close attendance upon the mother of Her Majesty.”[4]  This quote is highly informative because it exposes several layers of the Queen’s household.  First we see that the household of a maiden queen was full of ladies.  This is in keeping with the 19th Century perception of morality that a maiden should not be overly-exposed to the opposite sex.  Additionally, the necessity for purity is manifest in the language used to describe the scandal.  Important to the role Lady Flora owned in the Court is the last sentence which describes her relationship with the Duchess of Kent and the vitality of her reputation.  It is apparent that Lady Flora, by virtue of her position was expected to reflect the character of her patronne, the Duchess of Kent.
Lady Flora was supposed to be a virtuous example to the women outside of court because of her association with the Queen’s mother and her proximity to the sovereign.  This point is illustrated in a different article printed in the Satirist where the author writes about how unlikely it would be that a Lady—a woman—would, “with a knowledge of her guilt, court exposure, and go on to the last moment brazening out her crime, until the pains of pa­­­rturition should tear away all chance of concealment, and draw upon herself, the Court, and the Queen, the execrations of the nation.”[5]  The article, which speaks of the role of Sir James Clarke, Physician to the Queen, in the scandal further demonstrates the ramifications of a pregnant Lady Flora Hastings.  It is clear from this article that all eyes were on Lady Flora Hastings because of her public position.   In 19th Century Britain, the Court transformed from a very political role, under the early Hanoverians, to a symbolic role that lead society.  The Queen was to “set the bar” for social norms and etiquette.  As a member of the Court, specifically as lady-in-waiting to the Duchess of Kent, Lady Flora’s every move would have been reported in the Court Circular, in newspapers, and in Journals. 
                Finally, as a scion of the noble Hastings Family, much would have been expected of her as a daughter and sister.  Reverend Grundy writes about the responsibilities of a daughter during the 19th Century.  He writes, “In such a home one question will be asked over and over again by the ideal daughter within herself; one thought will abide daily in her heart—‘How can I help mother?  How can I share her burden, ease her toils, reliever her mind, and lift some of her cares out of the way?’”[6]  As a daughter Lady Flora was obligated to make the honor and comfort of her family her top concern and every action of hers reflected the character of her family.  With her father dead, her mother and brother would inherit the devotion previously given to her father.
The scandal provides insight through the Duchess of Kent into the role of female guardians.  As Lady Flora’s patronne au Court the Duchess of Kent would be censored to protect her and look after her.  In an article written in the Satirist one reads, “She might have sent for her mother, and committed to her an investigation which certainly was not a fit subject for a maiden of nineteen.  There were many other courses which might have been pursued…Even the Baroness could hardly have dared to suggest that the Duchess…might not be safely trusted with an investigation into the character of one of her own household.”[7] This article presents several interesting insights into the role of women in society and in the household.  Specifically to the Duchess of Kent, the article makes clear that the woman with absolute power over Lady Flora’s position at Court ought to be her sponsor.  The Duchess of Kent, as sponsor to Lady Flora ought to have been given charge of the investigation because she was directly responsible for Lady Flora’s conduct.  The duchess would have been like a “mother-figure” to Lady Flora, and, in return for the service Lady Flora provided as lady-in-waiting, would have been responsible to help arrange a good marriage, present her to well-connected individuals, help her to improve her accomplishments, and look after her general well-being.  The Duchess’ role was further entangled by her relationship with the Queen.  As the estranged mother of a young maiden Queen, the Duchess of Kent would be scrutinized and watched to see what power her example had to the young Queen Victoria.
Queen Victoria, by nature of who she was, found herself in a myriad of conflicting roles in society.  As a young lady, (aged 19 during this scandal) the Queen would have been considered a child and expected to follow her mother’s guidance.  As a Constitutional Sovereign, Victoria would set the rules by which Society ran and also be expected to exemplify the accepted rules of society.  As a daughter of the Duchess of Kent, Victoria owed her mother respect and obedience—yet as her mother’s Sovereign, her mother owed her daughter fealty.  Therefore it is unsurprising that early articles treating the scandal are conflicted in their verdict on the Queen’s comportment.  In an article written for the Satirist, it was reported[8]
The Queen, however, did not act thus, and it is with almost as much astonishment as sorrow that we contemplate the course which she did pursue.  A medical examination!  A medical examination of a lady denied that any grounds existed for the scandal against her, and who attributed the appearance that accused her to natural and probable causes!  And that horrible order prescribed by a virgin Queen—one who must have most accurately felt the full extent of the punishment and degradation which such a mode of vindication must impose!  We cannot think upon the fact, and upon the circumstances of its occurrence, without the most painful reflections;--we cannot review them without the most unpleasant suspicions as to the fitness and delicacy of feeling in one whom we would picture as all innocent, all pure, all unspotted by matronly knowledge—all unsophisticated as to the facts which had been brought before her.
Thus we see that the Queen is held by Society’s standard to act a certain way that is becoming of a young woman.  She is supposed to be innocent, perhaps even a little naïve.  And yet, she is Queen and the responsibility for affairs at Court lies with her.  And yet as the Head of Household, she is expected to be the ultimate font of justice, wisdom, and mercy.  Another article by the Satirist states, when speaking about the continued royal employment of Sir James Clark, “that it is disgraceful to the Queen and to her Court that he should be suffered to continue about the Palace.”[9]  As Queen, the behaviors of her courtiers reflects her own attitude towards morality.  Almost equally upsetting to the public as Sir John Clark’s confessions, as found in the article above, is that the Queen did nothing to punish him for his transgression.  The role of Queen Victoria in her own household and in the public perception could fill several volumes; however for the purpose of this paper she provides a good example of both the expectations of a head of household and of a high-born young maiden.
Lord Melbourne, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom during the scandal, occupied an interesting role during the early reign of Queen Victoria.  Deprived of a father figure for much of her life, it is suspected that she looked to him as a father for advice and comfort.  As Prime Minister, he had to be the protector of the Queen’s image.  As leader of the Whig party, he felt a need to be super politicized and yet sought, above all, his own advancement.  He was an apt manipulator.  In the Figaro in London, Melbourne is described, “like a Lilliputian Nero, (being in every way less than the monster alluded to) would not mind playing the fiddle (if he knew how) while the country was being torn to pieces, so long as he could only be as cosey and comfortable as his lethargic disposition seems to require.”[10]   Lord Melbourne, was popular with the people but he was also hated.  His relationship with the electorate was weird.  As a father figure he felt the need to protect his young Queen.  As a politician he sought his own advancement. 
                Another example of male roles in the 19th Century family come from the reports generated about the Marquis of Hastings, Lady Flora’s brother and the head of the Hastings Family.  With his sister’s reputation besmirched, the noble Marquis ran eagerly to her aid.  As a Peer of England, he had the right to demand an audience with the Queen, which he was granted.  As seen in this article from the Figaro in London the Marquis was the epitome of loyalty.[11]
We are glad to find from a very spirited letter addressed by the Marquis of Hastings to Lord Melbourne, that the former is resolved not to let drop the rascally conspiracy against his sister, and that he will not let even the slime of insignificance, or the crust of insensibility shield them from the consequences of their disgusting and infamous conduct.  The Marquis of Hastings seems strongly impressed with the idea of that a scavenger is required at court, and he appears to make himself the active person in the disagreeable process of emptying the cess-pool of impurity—Buckingham Palace.
The Marquis was determined to satisfy the demands of honor.  As his sister was wounded by the vicious gossips of the Court, he was determined that those gossips lose their positions of influence.  Lord Melbourne was determined to protect the ladies of the Court, all friends to his cause and of the Queen.  The result was an attempt at a government cover-up.  At first the Marquis believed strongly that the Queen was innocent and simply sought justice.  As the cover-up continued, Hastings realized that he would have to continue his quest for vindication despite the Crown.
                Hastings became a public hero because of his dedication to his sister.  His popularity aided the Tory Party and he was seen as a reformer.  The Figaro continues, “We only notice the affair for the purpose of expressing our admiration of the noble conduct of the Marquis Hastings, in coming forward to vindicate the character of his sister, even though he must as it were, throw his guantelet into the very face of royalty.”[12]  The Marquis needed to vindicate his sister—anything less would be a betrayal of his duty as her brother.  His conduct exemplified the idealized role of a brother.  His loyalty to home and family was admirable and demonstrated the standard for the period.
                However, the Marquis of Hastings was not only Lady Flora’s brother, as the current Marquis of Hastings he was the head of her family, and therefore, he had to protect her and see to her well-being.[13]
Lord Hastings professes to be assured that his sister was vilified and ill-treated by Lady Portman and Lady Tavistock, and we dare say he is quite right ; but if he was so convinced, why did he not resent it like a man, and take his sister away from a place where she was so shamefully ill-treated?  He tells us that if he had done so, it would have been thought to afford some ground for slander.  This is childish and nonsensical.  The certificates of the two surgeons which came out contemporaneously with the publication of the affair, at once concluded that all doubt upon the subject—there never was a day when the English public thought Lady Flora Hastings to be pregnant. 
                If Lady Flora had resigned, everybody would have said that it was a very proper step in her mother and brother to withdraw her from a society where she had been so grievously insulted.
This role was complicated by his loyalty to the Queen and to the Tory Party.  The Tory Party, now called the Conservative Party, believed firmly in the Sovereign.  The Hastings Family, Tories all, did not believe that anything was worth threatening the stability of the Queen’s reign.  The Satirist further examines this duplicitous loyalty saying, “he could not admit that he left his sister at Buckingham Palace through the over-persuasions of his great political leader, who was so anxious that by these means the Court should have an opportunity to ‘hush it up.’”[14]  The Marquis of Hastings, like so many in this scandal, had conflicting roles.  Perhaps, that is the best way to describe the 19th Century Family—conflicted.  The appearance of unity was paramount.  The ideals were noble.  The reality was much more complicated—just like the families of today. 
                The Marchioness Dowager of Hastings, as the Lady Flora Hastings’ mother, also held a complicated position.  Her son was the Head of Household.  Her political loyalties lay with the Tories.  Her social loyalties lay with the Duchess.  However, she remembered Victoria from Victoria’s childhood.  As a mother she wanted to, and was obligated to seek the welfare of her child.  As a loyal subject of the Queen she wanted to believe that the Queen was the font of wisdom and grace.[15]  As a loyal friend to the Duchess of Kent, she wanted to keep the scandal quiet so as not to harm her daughter, her friend, and her Sovereign.  Thus her loyalties were torn—that is, until Lord Melbourne’s rudeness towards her forced her to appeal to the press.  Only Lord Melbourne’s ouster would enable justice to be met.
                The public reaction to the scandal was mostly sympathetic to Lady Flora Hastings.  The populace was mostly disgusted at the manner in which the noble women of the court conducted themselves.  This article was published in the Satirist, which castigates the court saying, “Will it be credited that such wretches are to be found in England—wretches so callous and devoid of feeling as to sport with the death-pangs of a virtuous and unoffending female?  And yet such wretches there are in the persons of women of exalted rank and presumed virtue.”[16] This quote demonstrates the heat of the rhetoric used against women who “unsexed” themselves and betrayed the womanly ideal. At the onset, the public did not blame the Queen however, as time wore on they became disillusioned with Victoria and resented that she did not protect the honor of Lady Flora.  They were disgusted with the “political machinations” of Lord Melbourne.  The next election temporarily ousted Lord Melbourne and his return, a few days later, returned him with no support from either Commons or Lords.[17] 
The awful turn of events that launched a scandal in Victoria’s Court, is remarkable beyond its scope as an intriguing tale of court plots and scandal.  The Lady Flora Hastings Affair demonstrates quite clearly the roles of men and women in the upper class family and the importance of the cult of domesticity.  Lady Flora Hastings was tragically caught in the cross fire of Lord Melbourne’s political machinations and suffered great angst because of it. 
                In the Queen’s favor, she attempted numerous times to reconcile with Lady Flora.  And while she was unwilling to punish the gossips that caused the scandal she did attempt to repair the damages caused by her actions.[18]  To Lady Flora’s credit, on her deathbed she asked one of the ladies present to tell the Queen that she did not blame her in the slightest. 
                This triumph of forgiveness shows how deeply the values of the period influenced the two young women and again supports the ideal of femininity.  Though the people were angry about the purported “misconduct” of the Court and Cabinet—truthfully all of them fulfilled their duties as prescribed by their roles in society and family—albeit with perhaps too much vigor and too little love.  It is equally clear that the Lady Flora Hastings affair shows that gender roles were deeply entrenched in the upper-classes.  The 19th Century emphasis on family was what saved Victoria in the end.  When she married Prince Albert, Victoria’s popularity soared.  Albert helped effect a reconciliation between Victoria and her mother, the Duchess of Kent.  Family unity and family values became the emphasis of the Monarchy and Lord Melbourne lost power, never to regain it. 

[1] Crozier-De Rosa, Sharon. 2009. “Marie Corelli's British New Woman: A threat to empire?” The History of the Family 14, no. 4: 416-429.

[2] Barker, Hannah. 2009. A grocer's tale: Gender, family and class in early nineteenth-century Manchester. Gender & History 21, no. 2: 340-357.

[3] Manchester, William. Winston Spencer Churchill The Last Lion: Alone (1932-1940). Dell Publishing: New York, New York. 1988. Print

[4] “We speak, we believe, the sentiments of every manly heart.” 1839. The Satirist; Or, the Censor of the Times no. 366: 124.

[5] “The actors in the affair of Lady FLORA HASTINGS are somewhat like the nine worthies in Love's Labour's Lost.” 1839. The Satirist; Or, the Censor of the Times, October 13, 1839.

[6] Fahey, D. M. 2005. “Inside the Victorian home: A portrait of domestic life in Victorian England.” Choice 42, no. 6: 1086.  
[7] “We speak, we believe, the sentiments of every manly heart.” 1839. The Satirist; Or, the Censor of the Times no. 366: 124.
[8] “We speak, we believe, the sentiments of every manly heart.” 1839. The Satirist; Or, the Censor of the Times no. 366: 124.
[9] “The actors in the affair of Lady FLORA HASTINGS are somewhat like the nine worthies in love's labour's lost.” 1839. The Satirist; Or, the Censor of the Times, October 13, 1839.
[10] Lady Flora Hastings. 1839. Figaro in London no. 386: 127.

[11] Lady Flora Hastings. 1839. Figaro in London no. 386: 127.

[12] Lady Flora Hastings. 1839. Figaro in London no. 386: 127.

[13] “While we were taking leave of the affair of Lady FLORA HASTINGS.” 1839. The Satirist; Or, the Censor of the Times no. 388: 300.

[14] “While we were taking leave of the affair of lady FLORA HASTINGS.” 1839. The Satirist; Or, the Censor of the Times no. 388: 300.

[15] “Correspondence which has taken place between the Marchioness Dowager of HASTINGS and Lord MELBOURNE.” 1839. John Bull no. 958: 187.

[16] “The Hastings Affair.” 1839. The Satirist; Or, the Censor of the Times no. 378: 221.

[17] “The late Russelling (rustling) in the House of Commons is regarded as the preliminary of a stir in Downing-Street.” 1839. The Satirist; Or, the Censor of the Times: 102.

[18] Victoria Regina. The Letters of Queen Victoria, Volume 1 (of 3), 1837-1843):  A Selection from Her Majesty's Correspondence between the Years 1837 and 1861. Edited by: Arthur Christopher Benson and Viscount Esher. December 5, 2006.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

The Inherent Risk of Invasion

As the boom of rocket fire and the cacophony of war continue to disturb Syria, one cannot help but wonder if our intervention is necessary to the security of the Syrian people.  There is an outpouring of public opinion that envisions some sort of American retaliation for the chemical weapons, allegedly deployed by the government of Mr. Assad.  By the time this is published we may well find ourselves involved in yet another war in the Middle East.  Therefore I propose to focus on the morality of any retaliatory strike we may take, the risks to American interests, and the ponderous question we have asked since Vietnam—when is it acceptable for America to adopt interventionist policies?
Foremost lies the immediate question of the morality of invading Syria.  While not currently stable, Syria is on the road to stability.  Mr. Assad, the Syrian President, has regained control of most of the country. U.S. involvement in Syria would prolong the war and while our victory over Mr. Assad is assured, history tells us that it would be a pyrrhic victory; we would be required to dedicate countless taxpayer dollars into rebuilding a country and descend into the political quagmire that will inevitably arise from the annihilation of the legitimate Syrian Government.
Have we not learned our lesson since Charlie Wilson’s War?  The rebels we are arming are dominated by radical and militant Islamic leaders, for whom we are the natural enemy and next target.  Mr. Assad’s government is closely allied with Iran but they are not radically Islamic, in fact Assad’s government has done much to protect minority groups, like Syriac Christians and Samaritans.  His government has increased literacy, boosted economic growth, and protected the basic rights of his people.  Mr. Assad is not a saint-- he is the scion of a political dynasty that has dominated Syria since the French withdrew.  His government does not meet our standards for a Western democracy.  His government is no friend to Israel.  All this aside, the Syrian Government has done much to improve the lives of their citizens.  The rebels only agree that they want Assad out.  They have proposed no new government to replace the existing, they have made no declarations about a democratic government, a secularized western government, or that this new government would protect the human rights of the Syrian people. In short, there is no guarantee that the Syrian people would benefit from a rebel victory and even less evidence that the new regime would be pro-American.
Luckily our reason for invasion has nothing to do with the morality of either cause but instead focuses on whether or not the Syrian Republican Guard used chemical weapons on a civilian population.  Conveniently the area attacked by Mr. Assad’s forces was bombed by the rebels shortly after the strike—damaging any evidence that could have been gleaned from the ruins.  In an address given by President Obama, reported by CNN on the 28th of August, 2013, explains his rationale for responding militarily to the Syrian situation.  Obama states that the Syrian government must be held to the international norm associated with the use of chemical weapons.  He concludes that the Syrian Government is logically the only possible responsible party as he “doesn’t believe that the opposition had access to the weapons deployed.”  Obama insists that we must send a signal that such behavior will not be tolerated.
In Alexandra Hudson’s August 27th interview with Saleh Muslim, leader of the Kurdish Democratic Union Party, Mr. Muslim, arguably no friend to Mr. Assad’s Government, asserts that “Mr. Assad would not be so stupid as to use chemical weapons on a civilian population in his capital while he is winning the war and while the UN investigation continues.”  Mr. Muslim then points out the double standard: if the rebels were using chemical weapons it would be forgotten and the West would ignore the issue.  Both statements are as poignant as they are true.  Mr. Assad is winning the war.  In a few more months the rebellion will be quashed, meanwhile the eyes of America and her allies are watching for any sign of foul play that can be used as a pretext for American involvement.  Why would Assad authorize the deployment of chemical weapons in Damascus on a civilian population—ostensibly loyal to himself, with UN investigators there watching?  What motive could he possibly have?  Why would the rebels bomb the area immediately after the weapons were used?  I don’t know if Mr. Assad used the weapons or not, but logically he has no motive to do so and plenty of reasons to not. Second, what if the rebels were the culprits?  Would America, Britain, and France clamor to attack the rebel forces?  Would they cut off aid to the rebels?  Mr. Muslim believes that the West would ignore such an attack. 
Regardless of who actually used the weapons, our President assumes that the Syrian Government is behind it (and his sources are better than mine) what sort of action do we take?  Do we put boots on the ground?  Do we send in drones or missiles?  Our bombs and guns would affect the civilian population as much, if not more, than Mr. Assad’s alleged chemical strike, whether or not we send them with soldiers or hand them off to the rebels.  Who wins then?  Certainly not the Syrians.  Any strike we authorize is a declaration of war, a war we would win but a war that invites retaliation from Syria, Russia, and Iran and would catapult more civilians, angered by the atrocities of war, towards terrorist groups.
How does Syria effect our interests in the Middle East or globally?  Syria is supported by Russia and Russia has stated that any assaults on Syria will provoke serious consequences.  I don’t know what consequences Vladimir Putin may be contemplating but the least troublesome to us would be for him to shut off all gas to Eastern Europe.  The resulting suffering of the Eastern European civilian populations would be devastating and would not promote Euro-American relations—relations we must improve as we court their entry to NATO and build anti-missile protection devices on their soil that would protect America and Europe from a nuclear armed Iran.  If we do invade, what do we get from Syria?  More debt?  Syria can provide us with nothing of value and will most likely turn into another Afghanistan or another Vietnam. 
Lastly, how do we decide where to intervene and where to live and let live?  It is easy to decide that America will police the entire world but realistically our budget impedes our ability to do this.  Our foreign relations become more challenging as countries lose trust in our ability to successfully solve every problem.  The cold reality is that our policy must be guided by necessity.  We must only intervene in countries where a lack of intervention will harm our interests.  Our government’s responsibility is to us and not to foreign nationals, no matter their circumstances.  Our taxes are for our maintenance.  Our soldiers’ lives are dedicated to our protection.  Must we send them to die in a harsh foreign field where even the ultimate sacrifice on their part will have no lasting benefits for our people? 
If we don’t interfere-- If we let Assad win the war, the war will be over; the suffering will stop for the vast majority of civilians, and likely in the aftermath, serious reforms will be enacted-- Assad’s wife is an active reformer!  If we invade or launch air-strikes we will prolong the violent suffering of the Syrian people by decades and instead of a stable government we will have another Iraq—a state that relies on us for security, support, protection, and in return offers us only mistrust, bitterness, and debt.  No people welcome a foreign invader—even if they are in civil war.  Any invasion of Syria will be a mistake.

Les Arcs Triomphaux et La Theorie de L'Aqueduc

            Il y a beaucoup de grands monuments construit par les anciens mais parmi toutes ces ruines puissantes il y’en a une qui est construite toujours pour célébrer la victoire. Autrefois les romains construisaient les grands monuments pour célébrer une victoire sur une autre nation.   Cette tradition, de construire des monuments, est l’une des plus communes dans l’histoire des Hommes.  Cependant les romains firent quelque chose différemment ; ils construisirent des arcs de triomphe.  Mais les romains n’étaient qu’une nation qui construisait les grands arcs triomphaux ; l’arc triomphal continuât d’être construit plus tard par Napoléon et plus tard par les américains à St. Louis.    
A Rome, pendant la République, les romains avaient des grandes célébrations pour le général qui avait vainquit un grand ennemi.  Les romains appelaient leurs généraux « imperator » qui ce veut dire comandant suprême de l’armée romaine.  Lorsque le général avait terminé la guerre, il est revenu pour faire un grand défilé où il montrait des trésors qu’il a pris pendant la guerre, des otages nobles et des autres prix de la victoire.  Ce défilé  été appelé un « triomphe ». C’était le rêve bleu de chaque général romain d’avoir un triomphe.
Après un triomphe le Sénat Romain commandait qu’un arc de triomphe ou une autre sorte de monument soit construit pour commémorer le triomphe.  Pendant l’expansion de la République Romaine et plus tard de l’Empire Romain, beaucoup d’arcs de triomphes étaient construits.  Il y a un arc de triomphe à Glanum en France et un autre à Orange qui démontre que les romains les construisaient partout.  Il y a plusieurs autres arcs en France qui ont été construits par les romains. 
Après la période romaine les nouveaux rois de Francia n’ont pas construit d’arcs de triomphes.  Pendant le Moyen-âge les victoires été commémorées en faisant des grandes églises, des châteaux et plus fréquemment en faisant des peintures.  Mais pendant la Renaissance cette tradition de construire les arcs a été retrouvée.  Pendant le siècle des Lumières les traditions associées avec Rome étaient considérées comme le pinacle de la culture.  Lorsque la Révolution Française fut accomplie les révolutionnaires qui ont gagné le contrôle de la France ont liée la nouvelle République Française avec la République Romaine en construisant des grands bâtiments dans le style néo-classique et en adoptant les symboles de la République comme le cap phrygien. 
Exactement comme la République Romaine, la République Française est tombée pour devenir un empire.  Mais malgré la perte de liberté, Napoléon a continué à faire le lien entre les romains et les français. Il a écrit des nouvelles lois basées sure les idéaux du siècle des Lumières et par conséquent les lois romaines.  En plus il a fait des reformes militaires pour créer des légions, tout comme les romains et pour commémorer sa victoire sur presque toute l’Europe il a construit l’Arc de Triomphe qui se trouve maintenant  à Paris.  Ce grand arc et l’un des symboles les plus connus de France.  Le style de l’architecture nous rappelle Rome et là, c’était l’intention de Napoléon.  Il voulut que l’on fasse un lien entre les deux empires pour se souvenir de lui comme puissant « imperator » ou bien que l’Empire Français était la continuation de l’Empire Romain.  Mais enfin son empire a disparu, et comme le statue d’Ozymandias, l’arc se tien à Paris — un rappel de la gloire de l’Empire.
Des siècles plus tard, aux Etats-Unis, la ville de St. Louis a voulu bâtir un monument pour célébrer la domination des Etats-Unis sur la côte ouest.  Pendant le dix-neuvième siècle les Etats-Unis ont envoyé des pionniers pour cultiver le pays.  Tous les pionniers qui sont partis de la côte est pour l’ouest sont passées par St. Louis ; qui a été nommée le « gateway to the west » et alors les citoyens de cette ville ont construit un grande monument pour célébrer le succès et leur place dan l’Histoire des Etats-Unis.  Au premier coup d’œil cet arc a l’air très moderne.  Il est très grand et fait tout en acier, mais c’est un arc tout comme les autres.

Les grands arcs triomphaux de Rome servent de modèle pour l’Arc de Triomphe de Napoléon qui est le modèle pour le grand Arc de St. Louis.  Alors l’Arc de St. Louis est la continuation d’une riche tradition romaine.  On voit bien « la théorie de l’aqueduc » qui conclut que la culture occidentale est en fait une continuation de la culture romaine.  Un exemple de cela est l’Arc de St. Louis qui montre que la puissance de Rome a même affecté les Etats-Unis à travers la France. 

Exploring Legitimacy in Shakespeare’s Scottish Play

Historical Context
In 1603 James the VI of Scotland became King James I of England, essentially unifying Scotland and England; though parliament would take another century to complete the process.  King James I was an interesting fellow.  Obsessed with witchcraft he wrote Daemonologie, a book that would prove instrumental in the later persecution of women in Salem, Massachusetts and various other localities, and yet he also encouraged the completion of the King James Translation of the Bible.  Shakespeare is believed to have held the first performance of Macbeth in 1606 and must have taken the regime change into account while he wrote the piece.
England experienced some very violent upheavals during the 15th and 16th centuries in which rival branches of the royal family fought bitterly over the succession.  The Tudor line came to the throne through war and they held it through intrigue and quick vengeance against any who dared aspire to it. James’ mother, Mary, Queen of Scots, was executed for her attempt to take the English throne from Elizabeth I.  Elizabeth I ruled England as a strong and assertive monarch who defied even the great Spanish Empire, a feat considered remarkable given that she was a woman.
England’s troubles were not only political.  In the 16th century, Henry VIII, Defender of the Faith, left the Roman Catholic Church and created the Church of England.  He quickly outlawed Catholicism and ordered the dissolution of the monasteries and other Church lands.  Protestant England lasted through the reigns of Henry VIII and Edward VI and then the reign of Queen Mary almost brought Catholicism back.  James I, the son of a Catholic, came to the throne as a Protestant and provided a relief to Protestants throughout the country. 
Critical Analysis
Unsurprising, therefore, is Shakespeare’s exploration of monarchy, magic, religion, and legitimacy in Macbeth.  Shakespeare would not have been able to ignore the changing political and religious climate nor the powerful personality of James I.   In William Shakespeare’s Macbeth, Shakespeare uses juxtaposition to explore political legitimacy. 
First, Macbeth juxtaposes witchcraft against religion.  Throughout the play, witchcraft plays an important role.  The original title for Macbeth was the Witches, which emphasizes the importance of the three witches to the plot.  Shakespeare, familiar with King James I Daemonologie, mocks the king’s opus magnum and instead of the popular tradition that defines witchcraft, Shakespeare’s witchcraft is much more evil and in direct opposition with the light.  Witchcraft in Macbeth takes a very ritualistic approach with the witches muttering incantations, “double, double, toil and trouble,” (Shakespeare 51) and playing at prophecy, “when shall we three meet again / when the hurlyburly’s done / when the battle’s lost and won.” (Shakespeare 1)  These incantations and prophecies have power and they mirror the power of the priesthoods and sacraments in religion. Shakespeare is thus able to explore the concept of legitimacy in religion through the juxtaposition of the witches against popular religion.  In Act IV, Scene V, Shakespeare employs the darkest scene of the play, the scene known as the Witches Sabbath, to showcase the witches’ evil.  The very name of the scene shows the juxtaposition of the Sabbath, where the Lord is worshiped, with the Black Sabbath, where the black arts are employed to seek dominion and power.  Indeed, the primary juxtaposition, that runs as a theme in the play, is the evil embodied by witches and witchcraft that Macbeth seeks out in his time of need.  Witchcraft is a sin against God precisely because it involves seeking answers apart from God and all that God has to offer.  Macbeth is described at the beginning of the play by Duncan as “worthy” (Shakespeare 11) and he seems to exude an aura of adroitness; but it is a façade.  Macbeth is twisted and he allows the witches to further taint his soul by believing their prophecy, then acting to ensure the prophecy, and finally by acting as a witch in their rituals.  Shakespeare emphasizes that real witchcraft is bad because it leads us away from religion and that it has little, if not nothing, to do with the fanciful descriptions given it by King James.  Legitimate religion is not mentioned in the entire play and we are left to contrast witchcraft with Macbeth’s obviously Christian culture; implying that there is legitimacy in religion and it cannot be replicated by men.
            Macbeth is juxtaposed against Duncan several times in the play.  At the beginning, Macbeth is a good and great man in the public eye.  Duncan honors him with titles and is full of his praise, “Give me your hand / conduct me to mine host; we love him highly.” (Shakespeare 15)  Yet we learn that Macbeth has dabbled in evil before, “Had I so sworn as you have done this.” (Shakespeare 17)  Duncan is shown as a trusting, goodly man.  He is loved by his people and exemplifies the virtues of kingship.  Conversely, Macbeth, once his treachery is revealed, his name becomes associated with evil: “the devil himself could not pronounce a title / more hateful to my ear.” (Shakespeare 79)  This contrast is more apparent as Shakespeare examines the transformation of Inverness during the play.  Inverness starts as a locus amoenus, “this castle hath a pleasant seat; / the air nimbly and sweetly recommends itself / unto our gentle senses.” (Shakespeare 14)  However, after Macbeth becomes king, Inverness is no longer a locus amoenus but has transitioned to a place of madness and chaos that resembles the wicked and hellish nature of the Macbeth’s soul.  This contrast is best exemplified in Act III, Scene “[speaking about the horses in the stables at Inverness] ‘tis said they eat each other.” (Shakespeare 30)  Ross goes on to talk about other strange occurrences that he attributes to Macbeth’s treachery.  While Duncan was king, nature acted as it should but when Macbeth overthrew the rightfully reigning king the order of nature fell apart.  This juxtaposition demonstrates the lack of legitimacy leads to chaos.
A final example of juxtaposition that explores the topic of legitimacy, is Lady Macbeth’s masculinity and Macbeth’s femininity.  At the beginning of the play, Lady Macbeth is powerful.  Upon learning of Macbeth’s future, as described by the witches, Lady Macbeth turns to sorcery and asks “Come, you spirits / that tend on mortal thoughts unsex me here, / and fill me, from the crown to the toe top-full / of direst cruelty.”  Lady Macbeth turns to daemonologie and invites the incubus to endow her with power.  This endowment robs her of the traits of a woman and fills her with the strength and ambition of a man.  Shakespeare is making a statement with this transformation about the nature of man and woman.  In Shakespeare’s day for a woman to dress as a man was considered a gross misconduct and sometimes even a sin.  While Lady Macbeth does not put on men’s clothing she goes beyond simply dressing the part; she takes on masculine traits and is dominant.  Macbeth, a man by birth, is weak and floundering.  Lady Macbeth emboldens him through taunting until he transitions, seduced by succubae to the power of a crooked masculinity, eventually restoring to him his natural dominance.  Shakespeare points out that legitimate masculinity belongs with the man and that in the hands of a woman masculinity is dangerous and despicable.  Similarly, in a man, femininity is weak and callous. 
            Macbeth, Shakespeare’s play examines legitimacy in religion, government, and sexuality through the use of juxtaposition.  In the play, the audience is exposed to contrasting opposites that show the peace and glory of righteousness contrasted with vilest and most abject wickedness.  Shakespeare’s reflection on legitimacy is natural given the time period in which he wrote the play and his genius is not that he considered what made for legitimacy but the answer he gave.
Personal Response
            Due to popular culture, witchcraft has always held a certain allure.  Stories like Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings glamorize magic and employ it both in good and evil purposes.  Magic becomes a mere tool that can be used according to the conscience of the practitioner.  However, as one reads Macbeth, one is exposed to the vile nature of witchcraft as an alternative to God. 
            Highlighted in Shakespeare’s Macbeth is the relationship between sex, violence, and witchcraft.  This trifecta of perverted practices seeks power through the manipulation and promulgation of evil.  Legitimacy is ignored, for legitimacy implies a right; an absolute truth.  Witchcraft cannot exist in support of legitimacy for witchcraft is illegitimate—it seeks to replace the real and righteous power of God with the power of evil.  From, the Book of Mormon we learn that “wickedness never was happiness,” (Book of Mormon, 310) and Shakespeare’s play arrives at the same conclusion—illegitimacy never was happiness.

            True happiness, a veritable locus amoenus, can only be present where the laws of God are obeyed.  This constitutes order and is something eternal.  In Shakespeare’s day Duncan, as a king, was considered the sovereign chosen by God.  Rebellion against the king was blasphemous because of this concept that the king’s power came from God.  While we no longer support the philosophy of the “Divine Right of Kings” we must see the importance of sustaining legitimate authority, religion, and sexuality as the alternative is wickedness, chaos, and madness.

Reminiscing on World War II through Harry Potter

Nostalgia is complicated.  Often times one is nostalgic for moments that are romanticized without any reference to the reality of that which is missed; however, nostalgia is based on perception and that perception becomes reality.  In fact, the etymology of the word nostalgia is itself a nostalgic reminiscence for classical language.  The word came in to being during the Renaissance and in Erin Sullivan’s article “Nostalgia” she writes,
Searching in 1688 for the perfect word to express the strange emotional and mental symptoms seen in Swiss mercenaries fighting far from home, medical student Johannes Hofer decided to make up his own. Looking back to ancient Greece, the birthplace of western European medicine, Hofer settled on the term nostalgia, a combination of the words nosos (return to the native land) and algos (suffering or grief). Nostalgia was literally the pain that came from the intense but unfulfilled desire to go home, and for the next 200 years it remained a constant category in medical writings. (Sullivan N.P.)
Like the Swiss mercenaries who fought anciently in foreign fields longing for their faraway homeland, modern society is often nostalgic for picturesque moments of historical events.  This is manifested in fashion, language, and literature. 
            Fashion is perhaps one of the clearest evidences of social nostalgia; as styles change they tend to reflect the styles and cuts of previous eras.  Women’s hats that were stylish in the thirties found themselves in a “renaissance” in the 1960s and once again in to vogue in 2012.  Similarly men’s suits evolved from military uniforms over the course of the last three hundred years—however, recently jackets reminiscent of military uniforms have re-entered high fashion.  United States President, Richard Nixon, impressed by European army uniforms, once tried to impose the fashion on the Presidential Guard[1].  Interesting to note, Americans of the 1960s recognized the nostalgia for imperial pomp and pageantry present in the proposed uniforms, and that because of the American view towards imperialism, they became immediately unpopular. 
            More subtle than fashion is literature and yet it is clear that literature can be nostalgic.  Romantic writers like Wordsworth and Coleridge sought to echo medieval styles and their poetry is full of allusions to a glorified past that is far removed from their own industrialized Britain.  The Romantic period gave birth to the idea of nationalism, which sought to unify empires with common legends, beliefs, and characters consistent with a perceived cultural history.  The power of nationalism is often listed as a cause for the Great War.  Since nostalgia is a key part of both romanticism and nationalism, the power implicit in nostalgic literature is therefore unsurprising. 
After World War II and the subsequent collapse of the British Empire in the 1960s, nationalism became a dirty word in Britain and was often associated with imperialism.  Torn between disassociating herself from her former heroes and colonial legacy and embracing the heroes of a more powerful past, the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth Realms struggled during the latter half of the 20th century, and even into the 21st century, to find national identities.  Different political factions in various former imperial dominions first removed references to the mother country and then during the 1980s and continuing today have slowly re-embraced appendages like “Royal” in their national institutions.  Steven Harper, the current Prime Minister of Canada, re-introduced “Royal” into the Army, the Navy, and other branches of Canadian Government and in the Canadian diplomatic corps; Canadian Embassies were even instructed to display a picture of Queen Elizabeth II in a prominent location.  As of 2012, the British and Canadian Governments announced that they would share some embassies in order to cut costs prompting different reactions from different factions.  Some in the United Kingdom and in Canada are charmed by the nostalgic idea of a closer relationship with the monarchy and their historical ties; while others bemoan the loss of national identity into a broader sense of self espoused by two sovereign states working together in the diplomatic field[2] (the Economist N.P.). 
However, the most compelling manifestation of nostalgic power in our modern society is expressed, not through legal codes or international treaties, but through the most defining books of the last decade—the Harry Potter SeriesHarry Potter is obviously reminiscent of Britain during the Interwar Years and World War II.  Allusions are made to Winston Churchill, Adolf Hitler, Kaiser Wilhelm II, the nuclear bomb, Nancy Astor, and other prominent figures of the period.  Hogwarts itself is an obvious characterization of the classic British public school and Harry Potter is himself the quintessential amateur hero of British tradition (Rowling Secrets 250).  While J. K. Rowling herself is not a product of the interwar or war years, it is clear that she is a product of a culture deeply nostalgic for, in the words of eminent statesman, Winston Churchill, “Britain’s finest hour.” (Manchester Defender 147-9)  That she is not alone in that nostalgia is manifest by the success of her opus magnum.
            Nostalgia, first and foremost involves noticing a lack of something familiar.  The Swiss mercenaries, for whom the term was coined, experienced a lack of their foods, their language, and other aspects of Swiss culture.  Nostalgia involves missing something lost in the mists of time that is often recalled through a sudden reminiscence.  Again quoting from the article by Erin Sullivan,
By the end of the 19th century, nostalgia had lost credibility as a disease category. In 1899, The Lancet published an opinion piece defending the Royal College of Physicians' decision to exclude it from its “Nomenclature of Diseases”, arguing that it was “a purely selfish disorder” and unworthy of medical classification. Today, nostalgia has shed its original medical trappings, moving instead into the world of the imagination and the arts, which attempt to evoke through memory, music, and poetry the buried pain of all those longing for an unrecoverable past. (Sullivan N.P.)
Important for this argument is not that nostalgia lost its medical status but that it gained an association with the liberal arts.  Nostalgia is inherent to poetry, music, and other art forms because art seeks to express through lyric, word, or image the beauty of the currently unattainable.      
            However, some may argue that nostalgia is not as powerful as it is made out to be and that there are many other factors that contribute to modern society.  Why should nostalgia be the key to interpret Harry Potter?  According to R. Trimm, in his article the Incredible Shrinking Empire,
Englishness has been particularly blessed among studies of national identity. The fascination with national identity in the decades after Imagined Communities and the re-flowering of nationalism after 1989 has produced a welter of studies detailing manifestations of the Sceptered Isle's sometimes peculiar case. The genealogy of this concern with Englishness is usually thought to originate around the Second World War, threats of battle sparking an almost retrospective retrieval of what would be lost by figures such as J.B. Priestley, George Orwell, and, a bit later, Nikolaus Pevsner. This after-the-fact quality of national discovery has proved to be a boon for postcolonial critics such as Simon Gikandi and Ian Baucom. Belatedness in such accounts betrays a failure of organic belonging, for a national sense of self is found only after collision with alterity, the "colonial crucible" being perhaps the most forceful. Post-imperial Britain and postcolonial nations then both suffer from a sense of dislocation, a national identity fractured by failure of self-coherence. (Trimm N.P.)
Harry Potter as a work of fiction is an amusing story, as a work of literature it is an attempt to redefine, in a modern setting “Englishness” by using the Interwar and World War II saga to bring the traditional definition to a modern audience (West N.P.).  Britain is still struggling to redefine itself and preserve their historic culture in an ever changing society.  While nostalgia is not the only driving force of modern British public, modern society is becoming increasingly nostalgic.
            One cannot understand World War II without understanding the Great War and the Edwardian world.  First and foremost the modern image of America as a great hegemonic power is but an echo of the 19th century perspective on the British Empire.  The Victorian Period saw the rise of the British Empire from a local European Power to the pre-eminent global power.  In the Edwardian Era, it was said that “the sun never set on the British Empire.”  Britain controlled one fourth of all the land on earth and her culture was emulated in every industrialized capital in the world.  Every eye watched London; it was the capital of finance, of fashion, and of policy (Manchester Visions 44-45).
            The end of the Great War marked the end of empire for many of Europe’s powerhouses, and yet, in the popular view, it only testified to the greatness of the British.  In 1919 the mighty German Empire, proponent of eugenics in nationalistic passion lay shattered.  The Austrian Empire erupted into tiny small states based on liberal ideas of nationalism and self-determination.  After forty years of German militarism, Europe expected to see peace.  France, particularly worried about German Aggression, sought to prevent another war by decimating German industry, military, and economy through the Treaty of Versailles (Manchester Visions 669.  While modern historians tend to blame the Treaty of Versailles for World War II, French worries regarding a strong Germany seem slightly vindicated, given that France was destroyed by Germany in 1870, 1914-1919 and again in 1940.
            Economically, Europe’s recovery from the financial burden of the Great War seemed possible, until the Stock Market Crash of 1929.  Overnight, Europe was wiped out and the issue was compounded by the vast debt owed to America.  The British Empire was spent and the attitude in Great Britain was that the Empire cost too much to maintain[3] (Manchester Alone 42-5).   India clamored for independence and the Dominions claimed parity with the United Kingdom.  Rather than go to war, Westminster signed treaties that eventually dismembered the British Empire.  Financially, London could not afford to maintain her Empire without the support of willing colonial peoples.  The debt issue was further impeded by American insistence that war debts be paid, despite their objections to Britain and France forcing Germany to pay reparations for war.
The horrors of modern war so affected the populations of both Britain and France that they became desperate to avoid war at any cost (Manchester Visions 661-668).  Policies advocating disarmament became reality and partly as an effort to cut costs, partly as an effort to avoid war, military spending was cut, armies were disbanded, and the Empire was further weakened. 
            The Interwar Years[4] were marked by both economic success and complete destruction of the financial system.  Europe, still recovering from the devastation of the Great War, was plunged into complete chaos by the crash of the American Stock exchange in 1929.  The rise of progressive liberalism in Great Britain resulted in the formation of the Labour Party which decimated the ranks of the Party of Gladstone—the Liberal Party.  It was very much a period of upheaval and yet, in England, it was upheaval masked and ignored by the elites.  The Treaty of Westminster already spelled out the certain demise of the British Empire and yet Churchill famously declared much later that he would not oversee the dismemberment of the British Empire.
            Germany did not seem to experience, at least to the same extent, the effects of war or depression.  The economy under the Weimar Republic, the government which replaced the German Empire, stagnated until a “terrible but great” (Rowling Sorcerer’s 23) man took control of the country and revolutionized the economy: Adolf Hitler.  At first, Hitler was universally admired for his seemingly shrewd, now understood as fraudulent, economic development (Manchester Alone 50-1).  As German economic power boomed, Germany began to push away from the Treaty of Versailles.  Hitler, and the German people, found the terms of the treaty humiliating and impeding to their development as a state—en plus, the treaty robbed them of sovereign rights; like the ability to operate an air force.
            Though Churchill is the most famous and dominant impression of the Interwar Years he is a poor example of the period.  Churchill’s character predates the Interwar Years and he is, essentially, the last of the Victorians.  A much better representation of the period is Stanley Baldwin; the Prime Minister for most of the Interwar Years.  Baldwin, rather than oppose German refusal to cooperate with their treaty obligations, initiated a policy of appeasement that emboldened Hitler and made the war Baldwin so hoped to avoid, inevitable.  
            Throughout the gathering storm, Churchill remained a consistent critic of government policies.  He was in the minority and describes this period as his “wilderness” (Manchester Visions 857).  Churchill’s repeated opposition to Baldwin cost him popularity, government office, and in the end redeemed him and made him Britain’s hero during the war.  During the Interwar Period, however, he was one of the few who realized that Hitler’s Germany was not an example to be emulated but rather a tiger to be contained.  Had Churchill’s suggestions been taken, when they were recommended, the cataclysm of World War II might have been avoided; but alas, Churchill was dismissed as an eccentric old fool. (The Gathering Storm)
The parallels between the Harry Potter characters and the actual historical figures are astoundingly obvious to anyone who is familiar with the British political climate during the Interwar Years and World War II.  The characterizations are witty and accurate in their portrayal of the elites of the day. 
One of the most compelling characterizations is that of Albus Dumbledore.  Professor Dumbledore is clearly Winston Churchill.  He is brilliant but odd, witty, and a good orator.  He is popular with the masses but lampooned by the elites.  The newspapers go against him to promote government policy.  His family life is complicated and his father was implicated in a scandal that threatened to tarnish the family reputation (Rowling Deathly 286-295).  The “he” described above could easily implicate either Sir Winston Churchill or Albus Dumbledore and both came to be the leaders that embodied the anti-fascist movement. 
Dumbledore’s most loyal supporter and colleague is perhaps the rarely mentioned yet stalwart Minerva McGonagall; thus it is no surprise that she corresponds well with Clementine Churchill.  Clementine Churchill held different political beliefs than her husband.  Clementine was much more grounded than her erstwhile husband and, yet, she was his biggest supporter and always remained constant (The Gathering Storm).  Minerva McGonagall serves roughly the same function as Clementine Churchill—she is the quiet and loyal supporter in the background; strong and confident. 
Dumbledore’s rival, in the eyes of the political elite in the Wizarding World, is Cornelius Fudge.  Fudge is the Prime Minister and harbors a belief in “the proper wizarding pride” (Rowling Phoenix 71) yet he doesn’t go as far as the Death Eaters.  When warned that Voldemort is back, Fudge refuses to believe that Voldemort has returned, he refuses to see the signs of rearmament by the Death Eaters, and his lack of action ultimately leads to war (Rowling Goblet 710).  Fudge is Stanley Baldwin, the British Prime Minister who watched as Hitler led Germany to war; and did nothing.  In a Times article, Smyth writes this about Baldwin, “Hitler's remilitarisation of the Rhineland in March 1936 was the cause of the great crisis of the year. Baldwin, then in his third spell as Prime Minister, argued for restraint, ignoring the calls from those who said that the Nazis must be confronted…” (Smyth N.P.)  Up until Churchill started to scrutinize government policy regarding the Nazi threat, Baldwin and Churchill enjoyed an amicable relationship, however, once Churchill took up the call to re-arm, Baldwin used every possible measure to silence and sideline Churchill.  This is paralleled in Harry Potter as Fudge is warned of Voldemort’s return by Dumbledore and then ridicules Dumbledore and uses the press to reduce Dumbledore’s influence.
            The obvious correlation between Lord Voldemort and Adolf Hitler is their common dislike for “impure” elements of society.  Adolf Hitler used the Jews, Romanians, and other ethnic groups as scapegoats in his program of eugenics. (Manchester Visions 669)  Voldemort believes muggles and mudbloods weaken wizard society, and like Hitler’s corrupt Aryanism, sees that their only purpose is to be slaves to the master race—in Voldemort’s eyes: wizards.  Additional parallels are their common and ignoble births and childhoods, their charismatic leadership, their genius, and their ability to master the art of terror.
No story of the Interwar Years would be complete without Nancy Astor.  Lady Astor was an interesting character in her own right.  She was born and grew up an American but immigrated to England, married a Lord and replaced him in Parliament.  Her house at Cliveden hosted gatherings of those loyal to the Prime Minister and opposed to re-armament.  She was staunchly anti-soviet and liked the idea of a strong, Nazi Germany to oppose Stalin.  She was an anti-Semite and her loyalty to Baldwin blinded her to the evils of Hitler.  She loathed Winston Churchill (Manchester Visions 883).  Delores Umbridge is a perfect caricature of Lady Astor.  Umbridge is fiercely loyal to Fudge and is violent in her opposition to Harry Potter, Dumbledore, and the anti-Voldemort movement.  Umbridge is consumed by a hatred for half-breeds and other sub-human members of Wizarding Society.  When Voldermort seizes the ministry, she quite happily goes about persecuting mudbloods.    
Other minor characters in the Harry Potter series correspond directly with other members of the Interwar and World War II period.  Examples would include Rufus Scrimigeour, the Minister for Magic who replaces Fudge, but is too worried about public perception to actually fight Voldermort.  He is reminiscent of Neville Chamberlain who at first followed the policies of Baldwin and is synonymous with the idea of appeasement, famously stating after the Munich Conference that he had brought “peace with honour.” (Manchester Alone 358)  Chamberlain later recalled Churchill to the cabinet and even put Churchill in charge of the Admiralty, however, he did too little too late.  Remus Lupin, the werewolf, spies on his kind and loyally reports to Dumbledore about werewolf activities.  Ralph Wigram, a brave civil servant in the Foreign Service, tirelessly smuggled clandestine government documents to Churchill enabling Churchill to be apprised of Nazi Germany and give accurate numbers and statistics in his speeches.  Like Lupin, Wigram had a young son for whom he was very worried.  Wigram’s son was mentally handicapped (Manchester Alone 135).  Lupin worries that his son will inherit the characteristics of a werewolf.  Lupin, also like Wigram, is of questionable social status (Rowling Azkaban 423) Well before the events in Harry Potter, Grindelwald was a dark wizard who mobilized a wizarding country and led them to war in an effort to dominate the other Wizards and muggles (Rowling Deathly 286-295).  Although Grindelwald’s rise at surface value seems to correspond to the exact time of World War II, he seems to represent Kaiser Wilhelm II.  Like Kaiser Wilhelm, Grindelwald loses power and is eventually exiled.  Grindelwald does not support Voldemort just as the Kaiser did not support Hitler. 
            In addition to the people in Harry Potter, Wizarding Society seems to run parallels to the Interwar Years.  Muggles and Mudbloods seem to represent Jews and other “impure races” that Hitler tried to eradicate and whom many wizards held in contempt.  Death Eaters clearly correspond with the dreaded S.S, Hitler’s most loyal and rabid followers.  Like the Death Eaters, the S.S. used a skull as their sigil.  Hogwarts is the stereotypical British public school (Rowling Half-blood 219-220).  In Britain, public schools are actually expensive private schools that cater to the elite[5].  One of the most famous British public schools, Eton, produces Prime Ministers and Parliamentarians almost exclusively.  Hogwarts, like a typical English boarding school, housed a unique culture that taught their graduates to be perfect Englishmen or wizards.  Upon the commencement of the Wizarding War, Voldermort began searching for the Deathly Hallows, items that would give him total dominance.  Voldermort is unsuccessful, and though he finds the Elder Wand—the most powerful wand in the world—he is unable to master it.  In World War II, the Germans gained technology that would have allowed them to build nuclear bombs, but they were just a few months behind the Americans (Manchester Defender 305-306).  This meant that the war was over before the Germans were technologically ready to use their new capabilities.  However, in Harry Potter, Harry destroys the Elder Wand, and accordingly, Germany never made a nuclear bomb; in fact they renounce all nuclear technology.
            Some may argue that the Harry Potter Series does not portray World War II nor is it a perfect representation of the historical events that led up to war.  Perhaps J. K. Rowling was just writing a child’s story; after all, she is not of the right generation to write about World War II.  In the analogy, others may wonder—who is Harry Potter; and if the series represents the Second World War, why are Harry, Ron, and Hermione not representative of major players in the war? 
            Literature often fails to capture the exact history of an event—that is not its purpose.  Literature represents, often more accurately than history, the emotional state created by events.  Additionally, it is consistent with nostalgia to romanticize the past and obscure the actual events to better represent the nationalistic legends that unify the audience.
            While J.K. Rowling was not a product of the time period in question she is the product of a generation that experienced the Interwar Years and the Second World War.  Her conscious thought may not have been to write a representation of that cataclysmic event, but there are obvious parallels to this period that make key plot elements and define key characters. 
            Regardless of her intent, if Harry Potter is examined as a stand-alone work using the analytical technique that “the author is dead,” the work speaks for itself and J. K. Rowling’s intent is irrelevant.  According to this method of critique, Harry Potter is a manifestation of nostalgia for the Second World War and the Interwar Years both because the work illustrates a story remarkably similar to the historical events and also because the compelling story—full of references to the past—defined the last decade in both literature and film in the entire English Speaking World. 
            In historical fiction the protagonist is often a non-historical figure who must accomplish something critical to the development of the actual history represented.  Some may argue Harry Potter and his friends represent specific people or groups of people during this period—but even more important is their status as representations of the types of heroes often portrayed during the period. 
Harry Potter is an excellent character, not because he is endowed with special powers, but because he is normal.  He is every boy and yet he is nobody.  He is not special because he is intelligent or even because he is an expert warrior, in fact Harry Potter is none of these; Harry Potter is the classical British Amateur Hero. 
            During the Victorian and Edwardian Periods Amateur Heroes dominated literature and popular culture.  The British are often thought to be obsessed with class.  In fact, the Amateur Hero is the embodiment of British Aristocratic culture.  During the Interwar Years, British Aristocrats did not study to become something—they already were something.  British Aristocrats didn’t need to try to prove themselves; in fact if they proved themselves they sank to the level of the vulgar middle class.  Their heroic antics were simply a combination of luck and moral character.  Harry Potter is the perfect amateur hero and he reinforces the nostalgia for the Interwar Years and the old national identity found in the series.
            “No prophet is accepted in his own country” (King James Bible) and so it is with literature too.  As a society we are reluctant to endow mere contemporary books with the semi-divine status of literature; and yet what defines literature—writing that examines an issue. Does not Harry Potter provide insight into the modern British psyche?  Does not Harry Potter explore social issues? 
            Harry Potter, as a work of literature, examines the British fascination with World War II.  The story is nostalgic, even though its setting is modern; for it repeats the familiar saga of Britain before World War II and during World War II. 
            The series uses fictional characters to represent the actual political elite of the Second World War.  Rowling’s characterizations are masterful and show a real understanding, and a real longing, for that era.  The Wizarding Society is almost stereotypically British and the Wizard government, culture, and institutions are reminiscent of Britain during the Interwar Years. 
            Whether or not Rowling’s Harry Potter is supposed to represent World War II and the years leading up to it is immaterial.  Nostalgia comes out in many different ways and the allusions made to World War II and the Interwar Years, if made nostalgically, would only more powerfully portray the poignancy of World War II and the Interwar Years in British culture.  The Harry Potter Series is literature as relevant as any of the great British literary gems because it illustrates a clear social issue: the British nostalgia for the Interwar Years and World War II.

Works Cited
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[1] This was unpopular and viewed by many Americans as monarchic paraphernalia.
[2] In fact some Canadians tend to resent that their passports tell them that if a Canadian Embassy or Consulate is not present that they must report to the nearest British Embassy.
[3] This is in fact, an attitude repeated in England towards the concept of Scottish Independence.
[4] from 1919-1939
[5] Examples include some of the world’s most prestigious schools like Oxford, Cambridge, Harrow, and Eton