A Postcolonial Analysis of the Protagonists Maturity and Changes in The Mystic Masseur从后殖民主义视角解读《通灵推拿师》中主人公的成长与蜕变毕业论文
The Mystic Masseur, the first novel of the Indian-British writer, V. S. Naipaul, mainly tells a story of Ganesh, an Indian immigrant intellectual, climbing from the grass-root to the social elite, from the edge to the center through a series of legendary and ridiculous incidents. Different from the style of Naipaul’s works in middle and late stage, this novel is a social satirical comedy. Therefore, both of its plot setting and character building are rather exaggerated and even ridiculous, but it is set in Trinidad, the ex-colony of Britain, which can comprehensively display the people’s living conditions and social problems during colonial period, and has profound research significance. This paper is going to, from the perspective of post-colonial theory, conduct a thorough analysis of the protagonist’s maturity and changes, interpreting the process and reasons why Ganesh gradually denied and abandoned his cultural origin, and finally changed his name, gave up his cultural identity as an Indian immigrant and became the spokesman of the colonial empire. Through the interpretation of the novel text, it is warning that even though the colonial system has collapsed, the spiritual control and influence from the sovereign to the ex-colonies still cannot be overlooked.
Key Words: V. S. Naipaul; The Mystic Masseur; Ganesh; the post-colonial theory
1 Introduction 1
1.1 V. S. Naipaul 1
1.2 The Mystic Masseur 2
1.3 The post-colonial theory 3
1.4 Literature review 4
1.5 The structure and significance of the research 6
2 Process of Ganesh’s Growth and Changes 8
2.1 Changes of the identities and social status 8
2.2 Corrosion and reconstruction of the ideals and beliefs 9
2.3 Abandonment of the original name 11
3 Individual Destiny Under the Colonial Domination 12
3.1 Dominant influence of the colonial government 12
3.2 Effects of social environment 14
3.3 Infiltration and mind-control of colonial hegemonic culture 15
4 Conclusion 18
A Post-colonial Interpretation of Ganesh’s Growth and Changes in The Mystic Masseur
1.1 V. S. Naipaul
In 2001, the Nobel Prize for Literature was awarded to an Indian-British writer, V. S. Naipaul, for his unique writing technique and style, and great contribution to the literature world. Being a well-known contemporary writer among the whole world, he lives an unusual life full of legends. First of all, he has a rather complicated family background. His ancestry were Indian, but he was born and brought up in the ex-British-colony Trinidad, a small island in Caribbean, since his grandfather was shipped to this remote island as a contractual labor at the time of colonialism. His father was an Indian, while his mother was a local, which further meant that Naipaul had to grow up in such a complex environment mixed with Indian tradition and local culture. In 1950, Naipaul was lucky enough to receive a large amount of scholarship so that he could manage to pursue his dream of becoming a writer at Oxford University in London. Although it is rather rough, through many years’ persistence, struggle and efforts, he finally succeeded in transforming from a nameless Trinidadian boy to an excellent and prestigious English writer among the whole world.
Naipaul is a very talented and productive writer. In 1957, he published his first novel, The Mystic Masseur, which won him the John Llewelyn Rhys Memorial Prize and earned him the first fame in the British literature circle. From then on, he continuously issued more than 30 works within 50 years, which includes novels, short stories, travels, diaries, letters, etc. According to Yang (2004), his major works can be divided into three categories. The first one is novel. Throughout his writing career, 14 to 33 works are novels, including The Mystic Masseur (1957), The Suffrage of Elvira (1958), Miguel Street (1959), A House for Mr. Biswas (1961), etc. The second category is travels. Owning to his complicated background, deep sense of rootless and strong desire for identity building, Naipaul chooses the lifestyle of traveling and exiling. Once in an interview, he said, “I don’t belong here, of course, although everyone has been very gracious.” (Bharati amp; Robert, 2015) Moreover, he makes use of his journey in India, Trinidad and African countries as writing materials and produces several travels depicting the true portraits of people’s life in the Third World and revealing the cruel and devastating consequences brought by the colonial deprivation and oppression. The representatives include An Area of Darkness (1964), Indian: A Wounded Civilization (1977), India: A Million Mutinies Now (1990), Among the Believers: An Islamic Journey (1981), etc. The third category is half-autobiographical writings, including novels, letters, historical reports, and social analysis. The Enigma of Arrival, written in 1987, is a typical representative. To some extent, Naipaul inserts his own life into his works and expresses his own ideas through building fictional characters (Nicholas, 2016).
1.2 The Mystic Masseur
Published in 1957, The Mystic Masseur is the first published novel of V. S. Naipaul. It tells a rags-to-riches story of the protagonist, Ganesh Ramsumair, from a struggling masseur to a successful political pundit. Together with Miguel Street and A House for Mr Biswas, The Mystic Masseur belongs to the very beginning of Naipaul’s writing career and all of them can be categorized as social satirical comedy. Moreover, all these novels are set in Naipaul’s homeland, Trinidad, a place that he is extremely familiar with. Actually, it is understandable that Naipaul chooses Trinidad as his first subject, for he can take his early experiences there as writing materials and gets his writing career start rather easily (Griffin, 2016). On the other hand, it is also much safer for him to depict the vivid living situation of the local people under heavy colonial oppression and to reveal numerous terrible social problems brought by the cruel colonialism, because he is not only an observer, but also a participant.