BRITAIN AND ITS PEOPLE
Britainand its People
Britainand its People
Atthe beginning of the course, there were so many things I though aboutBritain and the British people. Majority of these perceptions andimpressions about the British people and Britain were based onstories, history and films that have highlighted varies aspects ofthe British society. One of the most important source informationthat had a huge impact on my perception of the British people was theHarry Potter series. Harry potter series is one of the most popularfantasy novel and film in the modern world. Whenever I thought aboutBritish, the characters portrayed in the series come into my mind. Inmy thought, life is the British culture is about the struggle toconquer the magical world. As a result, the picture of Britain in mymind was a society that is defined by magic.
Inaddition to the Harry Potter series, there are numerous literaturesthat I have come across that talk about the highly developed magicaland cunning folk in the British society. I have read stories ofmagic being a profession in the history of the British society. Inhistory, charms and spells played an important role in the Britishsociety. The professional magicians and sorcerers were used by theBritish society to conquer malicious witch craft, deter criminalactivities, tell fortunes, heal, locate missing persons and influencelove. Therefore, in my own interpretation of the information I hadabout the British society, magic is an important identity of theEnglish people. Although majority of the stories of magic in theEnglish society were mainly from the past, the harry potter seriesand other English films with magic as one of the themes made mebelieve that magic and superstations remains an important aspect ofthe society. Nonetheless, I also thought that the British people areenergetic, noble and brave. The British society is one of the mostphenomenon societies in the history of the world. Their influence inthe world can not be underestimated. For many centuries, the Britishsociety has been prosperous in business activities, militaryactivities, literature, governance and cultural heritage. However,the course material has taught me several aspects of the Britishsociety I did not know.
Oneof the most lessons I have learnt about the British society from thecourse material that has impacted on my perception about Britain hasbeen the role of the monarchy of the United Kingdom and the unionjack in the British society. In my view, the two are the mostimportant symbols of the United Kingdom society. In the UnitedKingdom, the monarch, mainly the queen and her family, plays acritical role in the society and the government. The influence of themonarch in the British society is very significant.
Althoughthe monarch is the commander in chief of the armed forces, accordingto the United Kingdom constitutions, its functions in the governmentare limited to activities that are non partisan. The monarchinfluences every aspect of the British society. The significance ofthe monarch in the British society is best exhibited in the film TheQueen especiallyafter news on the death of Princess Diana emerged. For example, inthe 16thcentury, the queen was a protestant which resulted into decline ofCatholicism in England. The rise of protestant movement in Englandwas successful largely because Queen Elizabeth 1 was a protestant.However, when she dies in the early 17thcentury and did not have children to inherit the throne, her cousin,James VI of Scotland assumed the throne. Although James VI was acatholic the influence of the monarch made his favor the Protestants.Guy Fawkes, a catholic convert, plotted to kill the king since he wasan impendent to the return of Catholicism in England. However, thisplot was not successful.
Todate, there is a national day of celebration, 5thof November to remember the day the monarch was saved. The passionand emotions through which the British celebrates this day emphasizesthe importance of the monarch in the British society. After readingthe course material, the Union Jack comes into my mind whenever Ithink about Britain. Like the United States flag, the Union Jack isone of the most important symbols of the United Kingdom. GreatBritain refers to England and Wales while the United Kingdom includesEngland, Wales and Northern Ireland, which are all under the Queen.The Union Jack and the monarch are the most important factors thatunify the three nations. It is used as a symbol of patriotism andnationalisms in different aspects of the British society.
Oneof the historical aspects of the United States society that will notfade away is slavery and segregation and discrimination of people ofcolor, especially African Americans. Before the civil rights era,African American in the United States was not allowed to mix withother races. In the British society, although there was an element ofslavery and racial discrimination, it was not as widespread as in theUnited States. As a result, the British society is viewed astraditionally more accommodative to minorities. Perhaps this isbecause of the lack of African heritage in the British society,compared to the American society. During the slavery era, there wereno large plantations in Britain that required large scale importationof slaves into the country. Additionally, mass immigrations intoBritain were experienced in the second half of 20thcentury. Therefore, blacks in Britain have never been a source ofconcern.
Additionally,whenever the question of British society emerges, one thing thatcomes into mind is the origin of the English language andEnglishness. Englishness refers to manners and character that definesan individual from the British society. For example, in the Englishsociety, "How do you do?" "Pleased to meet you"are some of the most important aspects of a conversation.Additionally, English mannerism requires that a person should statehis or her name at the end of the conversation. TheLavender Hill Mob, a1951 comedy film exhibits some of the mannerism that characterizedthe British society in the mid 18thcentury such as dressing, dining and communication. Although some ofthe aspects of mannerism such as dressing code has changed, majorityof the aspects have remained the same.
Otherimportant aspect of Englishness that stands out in the Britishsociety includes lack of easy engagement or rational assertions andthe importance of sense of humor. In general, the British society isgoverned by complex and all inclusive unwritten and unspoken rulesand codes of conduct that defines the way English people talk, dress,drive, walk, eat, queue and every aspect of life. The hidden rulesare unconsciously obeyed and characterize the British society (Fox,2004). The Englishness, for example, the use pipe (although it hasbeen replaced with nicotine patches) is also depicted in the movie AStudy in Pink.Therefore, after the course, whenever I think about the British, I donot think about Harry Potter and magic. Rather, what comes into mymind is Englishness, the monarch, the Union Jack and tolerance of theBritish society.
Cole,N. (2010). Madein Dagenham.Film.
Crichton,C. (1951). TheLavender Hill Mob,Film.
Fox,K. (2004). Watchingthe English, The hidden rules of English behavior.London, Hodder and Stoughton.
Frears,S. (2006). TheQueen,Film.
McGuigan,P. (2010). AStudy in Pink,Film.