Social Darwinism refers to ideologies developed in the nineteenth century that affirmed on the idea focusing on the survival for the fittest. It states that there are various struggles involved in existence and that are used to justify social policies that create a difference between individuals who are able to support themselves and those who cannot.
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“East London Opium Smokers” is a microcosm of Victorian social and cultural mores. The author of this narrative is highly influenced by the mysteries related to the use of opium, as well as the rules in the East London society. He states the use of opium is based on some fantastic interest which hovers around fascination. To some, they believe that opium is miraculous hence hold an intimate acquaintance with the drug (Anon 71). Therefore, there is no one who speaks loudly about the use of the drug in the area. This is because there are superstitions associated with the drug that everyone dreads to be involved in. Therefore, individuals in this area use the drug as a societal practice (Dickens 120). On the same, there are seductive stories that have been developed to lure people into the use of the drug. Such stories include “Arabian Nights” that to some extent gives inspiration to the users.
There are various political philosophies that influenced the author to develop this narrative. Notably, during the century when opium smoking was common in East London, there arose various anti campaign movements that aimed at reinstating the legacy of the city. The behavior was threatening the condition of the street of East London (Helmer and Vietorisz 31). As a result, a campaign was done as a way of restoring morality in the area. In this case, the campaign drew attention especially from the political scene to the community that was thought to have been isolated because of what it was thought to be.
The increased opium smoking in East London was associated with the rise in the number of Chinese immigrants. Previously, opium smoking in the city did not attract much attention from the outside community. It was treated just as any other practice. However, opium smoking as a domestic practice was highly discussed at the end of the 18th century. Opium smoking was deemed to be a noble phenomenon by a majority of the users (Raymond 188). They described the practice calmly stating that it was their style of life. Indeed, the growth in the number of Chinese immigrants in the area was a prerequisite for discovery of the practice. This was done due to Prince of Wales who visited the city and noted the practice that was said to be noble by the inhabitants (Dickens 79). Despite the fact that most users were mean and miserable, some individuals like Chi Ki went to court to defend their practice. He argued that opium could even be administered for medical purposes. Indeed, this resulted into increased recognition not only drawing the attention of the inhabitants and surrounding community but also from the author. The practice was now taking both a political and judicial course.
The use of opium in East London aroused interest from various parties especially with the growth of anti-opium movements. Nevertheless, various experiments were being carried out in the medical field of opium smoking. Opium smoking was said to have the capacity for treating tetanus. Professionals in the medical field also argued that the drug could be used in treatment of chronic and neuralgic affections (Helmer and Vietorisz 31). Despite the fact that communities in other parts of London were criticizing the inhabitants in the east, they found opium to have myriad uses. This is the reason why the author takes different perspectives in his story. This is because opium brought a new awakening in various fields for research and experiments. Therefore, opium smoking was a part of the long recreational development of medicinal drug (Anon 70). However, some individuals believed that smoking opium was as bad as excessive alcohol drinking.
Eventually, smoking opium was declared illegal and evoked harsh punishment. As earlier stated, opium smoking was practiced by the Chinese in East London. Therefore, it was possible to impose stern legal controls to implement the narcotic policy (Raymond 186). Smoking opium was associated with economic uncertainty and imperialism in England by then. Nevertheless, it is true to state that the Chinese and their opium set a milestone in coming with various discoveries in the medical field (Leonard 48). Indeed, the pace of opium as a narcotic drug was changed. It was something that also gave the Victorian society a new perspective.
In conclusion, it is evident from the above analysis that there are various political philosophies that influenced the author to write this story concerning opium smoking in East London. Moreover, it is true to state that these factors played a significant role in helping him to make informed decisions that changed his perspective on the inhabitants of Blue Gate filed. Smoking opium by the Chinese immigrants and the sudden interest in the region are associated with a political course. However, smoking opium was only a practice among the Chinese until when laws were established to stop the use of opium.
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