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International Letters of Social and Humanistic Sciences
ILSHS Volume 60

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Edward Said’s Orientalism and the Representation of Oriental Women in George Orwell’s Burmese Days

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Edward Said’s groundbreaking text, Orientalism is a contrapuntal reading of imperial discourse about the non-Western Other. It indcates that the Western intellectual is in the service of the hegemonic culture. In this influential text, Said shows how imperial and colonial hegemony is implicated in discursive and textual production. Orientalism is a critique of Western texts that have represented the East as an exotic and inferior other and construct the Orient by a set of recurring stereotypical images and clichés. Said’s analysis of Orientalism shows the negative stereotypes or images of native women as well. As a result, Orientalism has engendered feminist scholarship and debate in Middle East studies. For Said, many Western scholars, orientalists, colonial authorities and writers systematically created the orientalist discourse and the misrepresentation of the Orient. George Orwell as a Western writer experienced imperialism at first hand while serving as an Assistant Superintendent of Imperial Police in Burma from 1922 to 1927. One of Orwell’s major concerns during his life was the issue of imperialism and colonialism which is reflected in his first published novel, Burmese Days. Orwell’s own political purpose in this novel was to convince the reader that imperialism was morally wrong. Although he saw imperialism as one of the major injustices of his time and had declared himself against Empire, in Burmese Days, Orwell, consciously and unconsciously, repudiated his views and followed the Orientalist discourse. In this study, the authors demonstrate how Orwell maintains a white male Eurocentric imperialist viewpoint. The authors attempt to examine how the ‘female subalterns’ are represented in Burmese Days. While Oriental women are represented as the oppressed ones, they are also regarded as being submissive, voiceless, seductive and promiscuous.


International Letters of Social and Humanistic Sciences (Volume 60)
E. Shabanirad and S. M. Marandi, "Edward Said’s Orientalism and the Representation of Oriental Women in George Orwell’s Burmese Days", International Letters of Social and Humanistic Sciences, Vol. 60, pp. 22-33, 2015
Online since:
September 2015

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[1] A. Harper, Premodern Rulers and Postmodern Viewers, p. 51, 2018


[2] C. Doran, "Maugham on Myanmar: gender trouble and imperial decay", Studies in Travel Writing, p. 1, 2019


[3] E. Eissa, R. Hassan, H. Guta, The International Encyclopedia of Gender, Media, and Communication, p. 1, 2020


[4] E. Aysha, "Science Fiction by, about, and for Arabs: Case Studies in De-Orientalising the Western Imagination", ReOrient, Vol. 6, 2020

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