Dreaming of Colonialism: Imagining “Place” in Richard Brome’s The Antipodes

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Matthew Ryan Hetu


This article explores the colonial mindset behind the depiction of space and travel in Richard Brome’s The Antipodes. Using Benedict Anderson’s Imagined Communities and Robert T. Tally Jr.’s “On Literary Cartography: Narrative as a Spatially Symbolic Act” as frames for reading travel and travel literature in the text offers new insight into reading Antipodes’ underlying colonial mindset that is intertwined with the complex metatheatrical elements of the play. I read Peregrine as a British explorer going into the exotic to reform and impose his own ways of knowing on the people of the Antipodes. However, the complex metatheatrical elements further complicate this colonial reading of the text. The text uses metatheatrical elements that ultimately makes the audience aware of their own role in the space of the play—invoking a sense of self reflection. By focusing on the ways in which the exotic world is constructed and imagined, the nation as a performance, and the colonial discourse and power dynamics underlying the text I argue that The Antipodes can be read through modern literary theory to better understand and display the emerging difficulties and problems that accompany the developing sense of English nationalism and proto-colonialism. In doing so, the text displays the inherent colonial structures that inform and limit the role of both travel literature and the romance genre in “imaging” nations—something that is pivotal to both questioning and understanding the role of the nation in an increasingly global context.