The English Gentleman and the Transformation of Britain in Kazuo Ishiguro's The Remains of the Day and Malcolm Bradbury's Stepping Westward

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From this approach it becomes obvious that the figure of Britannia was found to be ideal by the British for the symbolic depiction of the country because she holds the characteristics of both a warrior and a caring mother protecting her children from their enemies. These characteristics became especially identical with the qualities attributed to the nation during the years when Britain was growing out to become the world’s foremost economic power. However, this recognition also solicits attention to even more interesting questions: Does the collapse of the empire despoil Britannia from these characteristics ? If the answer is yes, how does the image of the warrior woman exist in the national consciousness transformed in close contact with the fading faith in Britain’s ability to ensure lasting peace and prosperity? In order to address these questions it may help to examine Ishiguro’s masterpiece, The Remains of the Day, and Bradbury’s great novel, Stepping Westward, which offer far-reaching perspective on the working of this process. The chief triumph of these narratives is the way they represent the character of the English gentleman in the face of post-imperial moral and social changes, and highlight his endless fidelity to the allegorical figure of Britannia.

Britannia, changing figure