Oscar and Lucinda embodies the Victorian emphasis upon linear progression by means of the trip Mr. Jeffris heads to carry the glass church through uncharted land. The creation, transportation, and construction of the glass church illustrates a technological achievement which stands central to the idea of human progress. Furthermore, Mr. Jeffris as the embodiment of imperialistic notions of exploration becomes a symbol of linear progression. Constructing him as this symbol, the narrator explains that Mr. Jeffris thought that "each pane of glass would travel through country where glass had never existed before, not once, in all time. These sheets would cut a new path in history. They would slice the white dust covers of geography and reveal a map beneath" (374). Jeffris perceives the trip as a way of bringing civilization to the savage lands. Disregarding the aboriginal past, he looks ahead to the future and dreams of the fame this trip will bring him in coming generations. Placing progress before morality, Jeffris murders the natives to ensure his exploration, and he then defends his actions to Oscar by saying, "Churches are not carried by choirboys. Neither was the Empire built by angels" (401). Though he murdered a few natives, Jeffris justifies his actions by asserting his belief that his actions progressed the interests of British imperialism. Equating progress with British imperialism, Jeffris establishes a linear view of time which disregards the native past and looks ahead to the betterment of the Empire.
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Last modified 1998