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Civil and Savage – European Colonialism Essay

Edgar Huntly and Arthur Gordon Pym are two prime examples of stories that dramatize European colonialism. They incorporate violence, morals, and racial discrimination as leading parallels to colonialism. During a time of much chaos and anarchy, it was hard to tell who was civil and who was savage. Though two completely different narratives, the characters in each story are all struggling to find their own humanity. Both stories are a representation of human’s inner struggle between what’s right and what’s wrong.

Edgar Huntly, written by Charles Brown, incorporates many qualities that represent European colonialism. The American frontier in the 1780s and 1790s, when the novel takes place, was full of disorientation and war. The concept of a socially and economically superior establishment overtaking an inferior one is most obviously shown between the Europeans and the Delaware Indians. Edgar often refers to the Indians as “savages” or “the other.” He tends to view people who are different than him as inferior and untrustworthy. At the time the American frontier was moving forward, loyalty and conformity were very important to their cause. If anyone differed in race, culture, or ideals, they were automatically viewed as untrustworthy or inferior. European settlers on the ground of this newly conquered land were prone to Indian raids. Meanwhile, immigrants of different race, religion, and culture were multiplying. Both of these situations created a suspicion of anyone who was not obviously of colonial American descent.

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Many times during their journey in Solesbury and Norwalk, Edgar and Clithero’s grip on reality becomes lost and transformed by fear, guilt, and anger. Clithero’s anger over his tortured past, love for Clarice, and fear of Arthur, leads him to a depression that takes over his life. When this depression surfaces, Clithero is driven towards suicide. Edgar also lives in the tension between his civilized upbri…

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