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The Journal of English Language and Literature , Vol.63, No.2, 317 ~ 338, 2017
Romance with the Veiled East: Ayesha in She and the “Eastern Bride” in Lord Jim
Hye Ryoung Kil
Reading Conrad`s Lord Jim as imperial romance, with a modernist vision, renders the imaginary veiled figure “Eastern bride,” which personifies Jim`s “opportunity” to conquer the East, compared to the veiled immortal Arab Queen Ayesha in Haggard`s She. Like the “Eastern bride” waiting for Jim to uncover her veil, Ayesha has waited over two thousand years for Leo in Africa, providing him with an opportunity to rule the world. The two veiled brides, each embodying the colonial frontier of the East and Africa and acting as the other of Western masculine imperialism, similarly represent an opportunity for the British Empire to expand when the bride is eventually married or unveiled to the English adventurer. Significantly, the brides both remain veiled at the end of the text, as Ayesha dies, though she will return, before uniting with Leo and Jim dies in order to unite with the “Eastern bride.” The failure to unveil the Eastern or Arab bride signifies the end of imperialism, while on the other hand, the failure is inevitable with the veil hiding the truth that the bride, seemingly deemed the other of imperialism, is really its double and unconquerable. That truth, like the goddess “Truth” worshipped by Kor, the great ancient empire in Africa, can be revealed only by death. The “Eastern bride” thus reflects the veiled bride Ayesha, who symbolizes the Arabs challenging the English in the East and Africa, and whose veil is not to be drawn in imperial romance.
Key Words
Eastern bride, Ayesha, Lord Jim, She, imperial romance
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