Fracturing the Occidental Mirror, Renouncing the Myth of the Terrorizing Oriental: Contesting the Imperial Representation of the Oriental Female “Other” in Rider Haggard’s She

Hela Zouari


This paper studies Rider Haggard’s She, a late Victorian imperial adventure novel, uncovering the imperial representation of the female “Other,” Ayesha.  Throughout the novel, Rider Haggard attempts to orientalize the female protagonist Ayesha, representing her from an imperialist viewpoint. In this context, this paper attempts to fracture the Occidental mirror of megalomania and self-aggrandizement to the detriment of the Oriental, who is relegated to a stance of marginality and is preposterously stigmatized as the “other.” In reading the novel from a postcolonial standpoint in the light of Edward Said’s book Orientalism, this paper develops an anti-imperial stance, or more specifically an alternative reading, directed towards the contestation of the imperial discourse and the subversion of stereotypical representations of the “Other,”[1] percisely the Oriental woman in canonical imperialist texts, most notably in imperial adventure tales.  In a similar vein, this paper exposes the ideological process of othering the Oriental female is subject to. It also unfolds the way in which the queen Ayesha is textually constructed as an Oriental woman, as Haggard stigmatizes her allegedly oriental attributes, notably her tyranny.

[1] Boehmer states in his book Colonial & Postcolonial Literature, that the “Other” is recognized as the non-European in general and the non-British in particular. The latter is disdainfully perceived and conceived as such, because he/she is assumed to be different from the European in many respects, notably race, intellectual capacities and civilizational attributes.


Rider Haggard, the Oriental female “Other,” the ideological process of othering, tyranny.

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