Figure 23: Essay Excerpt on “Confessions of an English Opium-Eater,” Thomas De Quincey

Below is an excerpt that falls under the comment “Better/Much Better.”

You may access the comment by clicking on the “B” category or by typing the title into the search box.

You may print the excerpt for class discussions.

Sample Excerpt

De Quincey introduces the pains of opium, which presents the Malay.  The Malay knocked at the door and De Quincey wondered immediately “what business a Malay could have to transact amongst English Mountains” (449).  De Quincey thought that he might be on his road to a seaport some forty miles away. He continues to mentally attack the Malay as the servant opens the door. There stood both the Malay and a little girl. By De Quincey’s view “his attainment in English were exactly of the same extent as hers in the Malay, there seemed to be an impassable gulf fixed between all communication of ideas, if either party had happened to possess any” (449). It was clear that De Quincey didn’t take too kindly to whom he deemed outsiders.  He couldn’t fathom the nature of the Malay, knowing that he is below De Quincey, as to why it would prompt him to call upon De Quincey. De Quincey assumes his inner criticism of the Malay and the little girl.  The visitors called upon De Quincey to exorcise a demon from their house.

He accepts the request and hesitantly goes down to the house and comes upon the group “which presented itself, arranged as it was by accident, though not very elaborate, took hold of my fancy and my eye in a way that none of the statuesque attitudes exhibited in the ballets at the Opera House . . . had never done” (450). Simply stated, they are savaged, untamed and primitive.  They don’t fit the perception of people who are among the social elite.  By De Quincey’s standards, they are illiterate and uneducated to the world around them; nor do they have the potential for pursuing the value of an education.  It is his belief that they don’t value anything.

Figure 23: Essay Excerpt on “Confessions of an English Opium-Eater,” Thomas De Quincey

Copyright 2011 Regina Y. Favors. All Rights Reserved.


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